As a child, I never questioned where my food was coming from or how it was produced. I was oblivious to the quality of food that I was consuming. Whether it was a McDonald’s happy meal or home cooked dinner, all that was important to me was the taste. If it’s tasty, it must be good for me. Right?
I never made the connection of just how horrendous the food industry in America is until 5th grade. My family and I were walking down Daley Plaza and ran into a PETA protest. The protesters, dressed up in bloody pig costumes, were fighting for animal rights in the meat industry. I was handed an informational pamphlet about PETA’s purpose. As soon as I turned the page, I felt a pit in my stomach. I read the captions of gruesome photographs of animals in the meat, poultry and dairy industries. I did more research about these industries and was appalled by the cruelty of animals. I made a lifetime decision to stop consuming meat. I have been following my pescatarian commitment for 10 years now. I eat seafood, eggs and some dairy and have been gradually refraining from drinking milk (due to lactose intolerance). Without my family’s support, my dietary switch would not have been possible. Around the same time of my transition, my sister was already following a vegetarian diet and my father soon joined us.
“If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.” -Paul McCartney
On our final excursion, I had the opportunity to experience the organic farming of Anna’s dairy farm and Ramone’s bee keeping farm. Anna introduced her cows and explained the cycle of upkeep and production that is maintained on a daily basis. Her farm of 100 cows is a healthy and happy environment. Anna knows the cows on a first name basis and speaks of them like they are family. The cows are kept in spacious pens and are allowed to roam the fields when the gates are open. Anna feeds the cows greenery which helps them with digestion and adds more flavor to the milk. She gives back to the community by providing milk, yogurt and cheese to children in schools. She builds relationships with the children by educating them about the farm and the products that they are consuming. The children are the future. Ramone’s bee keeping farm believes in this too. Him and his wife built a classroom especially for children to visit their farm and learn all about the importance of bees. We had the opportunity to put on bee keeping suits and see how Ramone and his wife work with the bees. I felt a strong appreciation for everything that Ramone and his wife do, especially educating the children.
The more educated we are about the production of food, the more likely we are to make better decisions as consumers. It is essential to start teaching nutrition to children at a young age. This may influence children’s dietary choices and raise awareness about the food production industry. My education and experiences as a child sparked my interest in the health and sciences field. I now minor in nutrition and have always craved to learn more about the subject. I strongly believe that all children should have an equal educational opportunity to learn about nutrition. The children are our future.
// ALL PHOTOGRAPHS ARE EDITED //