J500 Media and the Environment


Reconnect: With Your Past by justinlev7

Farmers pass on more to their children than their name. They pass on their cultural legacy, in the form of  agricultural tradition. Their greatest fortune is the soil they cultivate.

child-garden

By helping their children till this soil and plant seeds, farmers  pass along the tips and tricks that their ancestors had left to them. Years later, their children inherit the land, add their own innovations, and pass them on to their children. 

Try to remember when your land was this important to you. It was your cultural legacy, your unique perspective on life, and your fortune. It was the age of the family farm, in the truest sense of the term.

Now, we live in the age of the factory farm. Our food is abundant but obscure. Our land is simply a site for a house, a tree or two, and a manicured lawn. The convenience of the corner grocery store has killed our need to produce our own food.

Despite having to plant their roots in a new country, immigrant farmers Pov (pronounced Paul) Huns and Aye Aye Nu used their farms to reconnect with their heritage.

Pov, originally from Laos, farms untraditionally. “It’s common American practice to keep weeds out, and I’m the one that says keep the weeds in,” he said. And Aye Aye, from Thailand, grows chaibong, a Burmese sorrel that usually can’t be found in the U.S., at her Kansas City, Kan., farm. She has driven as far as Omaha to sell her crop to fellow immigrants.

Follow their example! Help your children start a garden this summer. Dig a plot near your house, plant some seeds, and water and weed every now and then. Spray each other your hose! Get muddy! Get some dirt in your fingernails! You’ll keep cool, and your kids won’t forget it.

-By Justin Leverett, Group 2



Fighting Fast Food with Cute Cows by brennad87

“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.

Eating habits start young. Sadly, those habits usually stick.

Eating habits start young. Sadly, those habits usually stick.

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?”

Shatto Milk Company welcomes young visitors to their farm. Lessons like that stick too!

Shatto Milk Company welcomes young visitors to their farm. Lessons like that stick too!

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

 

— photos at http://www.fox4kc.com/media/photo/2008-12/ShattoMilk082.jpg, http://vivirlatino.com/i/2008/07/mcdonalds-kid.jpg