The importance of social connection can’t be understated: humans are social creatures. We bond with each other in many ways, but one of the most compelling and cozy ways is over food. Food and relationships go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Whether you’re eating with family at a large gathering or sharing lunch with a friend, you’re using food to improve your social connection. Meal sharing is a way to spend time with others, but more than that, it invites intimate conversations, laughter, and a spirit of togetherness. Researchers exploring the functions of social eating found that:
- People who eat socially are more likely to feel better about themselves and to have a wider social network capable of providing social and emotional support
- Eating with someone in the evening makes one feel closer to them than eating with them at midday
- Evening meals at which laughter and reminiscences occur and alcohol is drunk are especially likely to enhance feelings of closeness
These findings help explain why the practice of a family eating together can promote closeness. Family bonds are incredibly important social ties, and meal sharing can be a fun and effective way to strengthen that support.
The increased levels of closeness in evening meals rather than those shared during the daytime also highlight an interesting aspect of human connection. Low-light environments are certainly known to be compelling atmospheres. It’s been theorized that low lighting, such as that around a campfire, encourages people to focus on their internal selves, whereas bright light focuses attention on the external.
Eating together is not the only way to bond socially over food! Cooking together is also an amazing way to connect. You’re not only sharing food, but developing relationship skills and roles—practicing communication, finding a flow with each other, and working to complement each other’s skills and actions.
Food as Community Building
Connection over food extends far beyond two people on a date or a family having dinner. Food can also unite communities in powerful and compelling ways. It can be used to bring people together, find commonalities, share knowledge and wisdom, and promote healthy local food systems!
Our Community Cooks workshops here in Minneapolis offer groups of youth, community members, and new or expecting mothers a space to explore preparing and enjoying new ingredients and nutritious recipes. At the same time, workshops lend space to discuss cooking, nutrition, and the social justice issues that affect our community.
Here at Appetite For Change, we use food as a tool to build health, wealth, and social change in North Minneapolis. We bring people together to learn, cook, eat, and grow food, creating change that lasts. Learn about our own urban agriculture projects and explore what we do for our community. Browse our shop, consider volunteering, or donate today to support our incredible impact in North Minneapolis! Together, we can create well-rooted and flourishing change!