SGT June Event: Signal Free Saturday - Turn Off Your Phone and Cook!

I spend a lot of time connected - my job as partner at Simple, Good, and Tasty requires it. When I'm home, my laptop sits on the buffet beside the dining room table so I can easily check traffic numbers, research important facts (like what's on the menu at Lucia's this week), and search for my own name on Twitter. I check my iPhone every five minutes or so, whether I'm in the car (only at stop lights, natch), at the park with my kids, or making dinner.

I love technology, and I love my cell phone. Being connected helps me stay in touch with old friends, find great recipes, catch up with my favorite farmers, and talk with my kids when I'm out of town on business. When I'm connected, I'm more productive, smarter, and happier. At least that's what I tell myself.

And yet, I readily acknowledge that my need to be accessible and connected at all times has a dark side. My wife notices that I'm often distracted. My kids wonder why I need to check my phone when they switch from the monkey bars to the tire swing. I have a hard time focusing all the way through a two hour meeting. I feel compelled to check in on Foursquare when I visit my favorite restaurants. Sometimes I wonder if I'm exchanging the illusion of connectedness for actual connections with the people I love most. Is distracted "connectedness" really connectedness at all? To make matters worse, now there even seems to be evidence linking cell phone use and cancer. What the heck am I doing?

As much as I love being connected, it turns out that putting down my iPhone makes me feel great. I feel focused, in the moment. No random emails can harm me, no long-lost friends (or telemarketers) can track me down. I can play with my children without wondering if the buzzing in my pocket is more compelling than they are. It's awesome.

These days, lots of people are extolling the virtues of putting away our cell phones during sex, eating without tweeting, and driving without texting (Tiger Woods and his former sponsors at Accenture, for example). Earlier this month, Huffington Post Living and Health Magazine teamed up to propose The Unplug and Recharge Challenge, saying:

This month, we want you to spend 30 minutes a day doing something off the electronic grid: It can be 30 minutes all at once, or 30 minutes split into small chunks over the course of your waking hours [...] Arianna is going stick to the "no BlackBerrys during meals" promise she made to her daughters.

Because we at SGT are committed to fostering community around good food, our approach to this situation is a little bit different. This month, we're taking our event national. No fancy dinners. No babysitters. No Foursquare check-ins. No Facebook updates about where we are and what we're in the middle of eating. This month, on June 26, we're asking you to disconnect for at least three hours and cook. It's our first ever Signal Free Saturday, but we're betting it won't be our last. Here are the rules:

  • Leave a comment below, telling the world of your commitment to Signal Free Saturday on June 26.
  • Tell us how long you plan to go signal free (a meal? an afternoon? the whole day?).
  • Tell us what you plan to do while you're offline.
  • If you plan to cook, tell us what you're cooking and where you got it (if you're in the Twin Cities on June 26, you can stop by our booth at the Mill City Farmers Market to say hi and tell us in person).
  • Tell your friends what you're doing and recruit them to join you. (Invite them to dinner if you want!)

That's it. This month, we're taking the opportunity to really, truly, fully connect - with those we care about, with good food, and with ourselves. Please join us. If you take the challenge and write about it, we promise to post it to the site. See you offline!


Lee Zukor is the founder of Simple, Good, and Tasty. Email him at or follow him on Twitter.