Here at Chicago Food Planet we believe that food is the universal language that unites people. Through breaking bread together we can break down walls and boundaries that can unfortunately separate individuals, races, ethnicities and cultures. We believe these things because we experience this everyday. Each tour we operate brings a new mixture of guests together from different countries, religions, and entirely unique backgrounds. Yet, in many cases at the end of our experiences these individuals have found common ground to bond on. Whether this be their new found love of the authentic falafel from Sultan’s Market, to their shared humor of the history of the original Playboy mansion, to learning that they share the love of soccer/football; these connections are all made through the simple act of breaking bread together. We wanted to dive a bit deeper into this belief and did a bit of research. Read below to see what we learned from several studies about the power of eating together.
We all do it. Work through lunch to push through a deadline or try and get out of the officer earlier. However, eating alone at work while checking your email might feel productive, but there are many more benefits to eating with one’s colleagues, says workplace psychologist Jennifer Newman in an interview with CBC’s Early Edition.
Sharing meals together builds relationships. Workers miss out on opportunities to get to know each other better if they eat alone. Eating together can also encourage cooperation. A lot of informal communication can happen over meals, so colleagues may miss out on information they need to do their jobs. Even so-called ‘small talk’ can boost performance.
The personal and friendly tone set when colleagues eat together can support more intense conversations later in the day. By eating alone, workers miss out on the benefits of camaraderie, increased cooperation and performance. They also tend to be less satisfied at work.
Eating together is a way to be productive too. Companies can encourage employees to rendez-vous for a meal. The benefits are increased satisfaction, performance, cooperation and engagement.
Kevin Kniffin, a professor and applied behavioral scientist at Cornell University, recently conducted a study that researched how firehouses who eat together are more productive than the one’s that don’t eat together. Kniffin says, “From an evolutionary anthropology perspective, eating together has a long, primal tradition as a kind of social glue. That seems to continue in today’s workplaces.” The study suggests that the act of eating meals together is associated with increased cooperation and collaboration, bringing to the business better work-group performance. Even the skills needed for simple meal planning—cooperation, communication and collaboration—show up then through performance on the job. Companies that encourage this behavior in their culture will see more productivity out of their employees over the long run, especially organizations which have work environments that are highly team-based.
Children who do not eat dinner with their parents at least twice a week also were 40 percent more likely to be overweight compared to those who do, as outlined in a research presentation given at the European Congress on Obesity in Bulgaria this May. On the contrary, children who do eat dinner with their parents five or more days a week have less trouble with drugs and alcohol, eat healthier, show better academic performance, and report being closer with their parents than children who eat dinner with their parents less often, according to a study conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.
Sad Fact: Americans rarely eat together anymore. In fact, the average American eats one in every five meals in her car, one in four Americans eats at least one fast food meal every single day, and the majority of American families report eating a single meal together less than five days a week as quoted by The Atlantic.
In her book Eating Together, Alice Julier argues that dining together can radically shift people’s perspectives: It reduces people’s perceptions of inequality, and diners tend to view those of different races, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds as more equal than they would in other social scenarios.
“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.” François de La Rochefoucauld
So there you have it. Eating together is truly a powerful event that increases the well-being of those involved. We challenge you to make a more conscious effort to do so in your personal and professional life. Break bread with someone, you’ll be a better person because of it – we promise! Don’t want to do it alone, we can be your guide 🙂 www.chicagofoodplanet.com/tours