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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

does meat start off saran wrapped?

This post brought to you by reason #5642 why I love my tiny laptop: nursing and typing simultaneously.

A week or two ago, a couple of my girls wanted to make a baked potato dish for lunch. I thought, "Great! We'll heat up the lamb stew in the freezer and have potatoes for a side!" Very Irish, right? Except then I told them that it was *lamb* stew.

Oops.

"I can't eat that! Lambs are cute!" "I'm going to throw up!" "There's LAMB in this??" "I have a hard enough time eating beef!" "I'm going to throw up!" "Can I just eat fruit?" "I'm going to throw up!" (The threat of throwing up is a recurring theme.)

Oh man, I was so tired of hearing that they didn't like this or that food that we'd given them. And this was really delicious stew, courtesy of the lovely people who package it at the Food Pantry. Yum.

But here was what really got me: "I have a hard enough time eating beef and knowing a cow had to die. I can't eat this stew since I know lambs had to die for it."

I wasn't mad at this point. That's not spoiled-ness. It's actually a really interesting question, and one that I considered a lot in my brief stint with vegetarianism. Here's what I said:

"You should know where your food comes from! You get the nutrition you need for life from the lives of other creatures. Even if all you eat are plants and seeds, those plants had to be picked to feed you, and those seeds gave their ability to germinate in order for you to eat. It doesn't matter if animals are cute or ugly; they still gave their lives to nourish you. That's just the way of life, and you should be connected to it instead of separated from it and in denial. The Native Americans have a beautiful custom when they hunt of thanking the animal for its life that will give the hunter life. Don't pretend you live in a vacuum or that your meat started off saran-wrapped. Embrace what it means to be a living creature. Embrace being human. Give the things you eat the respect of knowing what they are, and don't shut your eyes."

Another girl: "Well, animals that eat other animals are sinning, so if you have to eat other things to live, you should just starve yourself to death."

Me: "Ok, you obviously don't think that because you're not starving yourself to death, so I have to believe you just want to argue."

But I think I actually got through to the girl who had the real concern that seemed to bother her conscience and hopefully I helped her have a healthier view of food. It just kills me that these girls don't know where their food comes from, and worse, that they're afraid to know where their food comes from.

So this summer I think we will have some field trips to Farmer's Markets and to local farms. Hopefully we can help them understand that meat doesn't come from the grocery store; it comes from animals. Vegetables don't come from the produce section; they come from farms.

Links of note:
Oklahoma Food Coop
Tahlequah Farmer's Market

1 comment:

  1. I think this is a fantastic post. I love that Native American tradition, too.

    We watched The Lion King this morning, and I was thinking about how much wisdom is packed into that movie. As cheesy as it sounds, we really are part of the circle of life, and ought to be grateful for that instead of trying to remove ourselves from it.

    I think you're doing a really fantastic job with those girls.

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