Filed under: Food + Health, Local Events + Action, Society + Media | Tags: children, cows, eating habits, eric schlosser, fast food, Fast Food Nation, Shatto Milk Company, sustainable food
“We are going to talk about cows today!” I said cheerily to the bunch of bright faces assembled.
It was a Sunday morning and I was with the group of children I have babysat for two years. Fresh from watching a You Tube video of Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, I was keenly aware that the kids around me were right in the middle of their most formative years. Fast food knows this too. With the pull of good taste and good advertising, children get hooked into bad eating habits young.
In an interview with CBS, Schlosser explains, “It started innocently enough, giving a toy with the meal, playgrounds, there are good things about it. But these are very, very crucial years. If you look at the ingredients of the fast food meals that are being heavily marketed to children, they’re extremely high in fat, and high in sugar, and high in salt.”
So this morning, I decided, I would do some counter-advertising. We were going to learn about sustainable agriculture.
The kids began by envisioning that they owned cow farms (“Mine is named Blackberry farm,” said Bella). I then explained to them the consolidation of buyers for milk and why that was hard for small farms (“Why would a group selling milk to Dillons want to buy from a place with lots of cows?” “It’s easier for them,” said Li, who I was quickly realizing was the cold hearted capitalist amongst us.)
“So, if you buy more cows,” I continued, “how can you afford that?”
Less trips to the vet, cheaper food… they understood.
“And what if you want to stay small? So you can afford the good stuff for your cows?”
“The buyers won’t buy from you,” said Li, “They can’t make money.”
“So how can you survive?”
With remarkable ease, the imaginative kids solved the problem just like the ace advertisers hired by Shatto Milk Company, a local sustainable and successful farm. Bella produced a drawing of a funky looking bottle to sell the milk in (Something Shatto already does). Li admitted she would rather buy from people (and cows!) she knew (Shatto makes a point to involve themselves in the community). They brainstormed different kinds of milk—“Coconut!” and “Mint!” (Shatto is famous for Root Beer Milk.)
At the end of the lesson, I told them about Shatto farms and the kids were entranced that the whimsical farm existed. They left after an hour, still chatting about Farmer Shatto’s horn that moos instead of honks, and as I called “Tell your parents about the stuff you learned,” I hoped I had made a difference.
— Brenna Daldorph
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