It's not very often a person gets the chance to grab the attention of a couple dozen 5-year-olds and captivate them talking about where food comes from. Today, I got that chance. And, honestly, they seemed captivated. Today I read a book to my daughter's kindergarten class called, "The Cow in Patrick O'Shanahan's Kitchen" by Diana Prichard. And it was awesome.
I sat down to read the book, and had 24 pairs of focused eyes on me, as I read, and even got to squak like a chicken, which the kids loved. In the book, Patrick came down to his kitchen in the morning to have breakfast, and there was a cow in the kitchen. His father offered to make French toast, and ask Patrick gathered ingredients, animals and other food sources appeared to offer the food product in need. Chickens to offer eggs, a cow to offer milk, trees to offer syrup.
It was a great way to help young children understand that food doesn't just show up on their plates. That it comes from someplace beyond the grocery store. That it comes from fields and trees and places outside of the city.
To my surprise, the children knew where their meats came from. We talked about the grains in things like cereal. The cotton fibers in clothes. The leather on shoes. Sure, we got a little off the food track, but I think the important part is that I got to have a CONVERSATION about where food (and other products) comes from with kids. A chance to spark their interest, and understanding, of agriculture.
The kids had lots of comments and questions. It was great to see them excited and inquisitve about food and agriculture. And it made me realize that no matter who your audience is, what matters is starting that conversation. Talking to people about agriculture, about food. And as much as I would have LOVED to share my thoughts on GMOs and so-called "factory farms" and all the negative things people bag on ag for, I kept those thoughts to myself (I mean, these were just kindergarten students, afterall). Sometimes you have to start small and simple and just start a conversation. Who knows what sparks could ignite from there.
So, I implore you, start an ag/food conversation with someone today. Whether it's your child's class, or a person at the grocery store. Take the time to share your farming story. It'll be well worth it. If you do share your story, tell us about it! Comment below about your experiences, your sharing. Or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.