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Setting The Table: Why Dinnertime Is About More Than Just Food

family sitting around the dinner table

For years health experts have been touting the benefits of sitting down at the dinner table for a family meal. The tradition of a big Sunday dinner after church is not uncommon in the South, but not many people meditate on all of the labor that goes into making a home cooked meal possible.

With the increase in loaded moral language around food, three sociologists decided to investigate the social and economic dynamics of dinner time. In the book, “Pressure Cooker: Why Home Cooking Won’t Solve Our Problems and What We Can Do About It”(Oxford University Press/2019), Joslyn Brenton, Sarah Bowen and Sinikka Elliot share stories from their five years of research with more than 150 mothers and grandmothers. Their experiences highlight the gendered pressure on women to put “healthy” food on the table and the unique challenges for poor and working class families in our current food system. Brenton is professor of sociology at Ithaca College and Bowen is a professor of sociology at North Carolina State University. They join Frank Stasio to share their conclusions, including the role of food deserts and food access in the conversation about dinner time, and the unequal burden placed on women to live up to societal standard crafted decades ago.  

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