Family Dinners, A Family Value

me and my sister, circa '86 or so

me and my sister, circa ’86 or so

People are usually surprised to learn when I tell them that even though MOM’s typical store footprint is about 1/4 the size of a typical Whole Foods store, our average purchase is about 20% higher.  Our customers buy much more per shopping trip.

Why?  Because our customers by and large buy ingredients to make meals for the week, rather than buy the meals themselves.  MOM’s keeps growing, but trends are heading in the opposite direction, as modern culture’s priorities shift and people’s lives become more hectic.

When I was a child, the sounds and smells of an active kitchen were very comforting.  I would sometimes visit the kitchen to see what was going on.  I don’t remember a single instruction from my mother about how to cook, but somehow I learned, seemingly through osmosis.

My family ate together multiple times per week.  This brought a routine to my otherwise confusing and unpredictable childhood.  I learned much about current events.  My father in particular loved to debate with my older siblings at the table, so I learned how to think critically.  Such benefits have been well-documented.*  I was lucky in that my mom had the opportunity to stay home and chose to sacrifice her career and apply her organization skills and good work ethic for the direct benefit of her family.

It is not easy cooking meals and eating together as a family.  It takes planning, time, work, and the courage to say “no” to a world around us that is speeding up.  Today, I admire not only the stay-at-home parents who make such sacrifices, but also the incredible dedication of families with 2 working parents who are still able to pull off this feat.  Food and The Family are such important parts of some of our lives- and I feel that MOM’s has become an outpost for those people whose priorities are becoming increasingly less mainstream.

*[I believe some of these statistics are somewhat unscientific, however… eating dinner together might be more of a symptom (vs. a cause) of a family who has other qualities and values that are beneficial to children- like a 2-parent household, an emphasis on structure, good priorities, working one well-paying job instead of 2 low-paying jobs, etc.]

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4 Responses to Family Dinners, A Family Value

  1. John Tomlin says:

    Well said, Scott. I, too, remember the dinner table debates among family members, mostly about politics, school, and the war in Vietnam. I also remember lending a hand in the kitchen, particularly when the evening’s menu included one of my favorites, Spanish rice. With five children in the family my Mom had to be careful with meal budgeting and we tended towards more simple fare that could be prepared in bulk. During my teen years I was a bottomless pit as far as food went, often consuming an entire loaf of bread between the time I got home from school and the time I sat down to dinner, not to mention midnight refrigerator raids to finish off the cold roast potatoes.

  2. says:

    Scott, I complained to your College Park staff and the good people representing you at the D.C. Green Festival that you seemed to be suddenly discriminating against wannabe brunettes–the only Naturcolor shades in the store were in the blond range.

    After consulting a dermatologist about my scalp condition and being prescribed medication too toxic to use, I did my own research and read about P-phenylenediamine, a toxic chemical in all permanent dyes for dark hair, even in Naturcolor’s otherwise perfectly organic 5N. I’m now trying to decide between accepting the ravages of age or trying your sable henna.

    Thank you for saving me from myself.

    Catherine Turner

    Please note: message attached

  3. charisomatic says:

    I read a book called “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community” by Robert Putnam that has resonated with me over the past 6 or 7 years and rings even louder since becoming a (working) mom. I go back to it ever so often to keep myself “in-line.” Putnam talks about how important the family meal is to building social capital and building the skills to develop social capital outside of home. Interesting stuff:

    • Scott says:

      I love this quote by a reviewer of the book: “His most damning remarks are reserved for television. According to Putnam, no single technology has had such a damaging effect on America’s civic and personal relationships.” I couldn’t agree more. I should read the book, but it might be too painful- kind of like seeing a meaningful, but painful movie. One of my biggest worries for our society is how much time is wasted on screens and how people don’t interact face to face nearly as much as they used to. I don’t even think the phone gets used much anymore.

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