Sunday, March 6, 2011

Rules for Children

One of the most important issues facing our world today is the need to secure a healthy, consistent, fairly-distributed, environmentally-friendly and humanely-raised source of food for the future. We are a society that depends on oil at a rate that can’t be sustained, makes land use decisions with only the short term in mind, and wastes literally tonnes of food every day (either by throwing it in landfills or into our already satiated and overweight bodies). There are not a whole lot of us who respect food, know where it comes from or care what it is really doing to our bodies (good or bad). In addition, conflicting information is constantly circulating and will confuse even those with the best intentions.

After a discussion on facebook about food production, I jotted down some rules that my tiny mind thought to be helpful as we go forward as producers of food. As a mother of 2 small children, I have come to rely heavily on outlining rules.

Yet as I made my list, I quickly became aware that the rules that apply to food production could well be the same rules that are used at our children's day care facility. If there was to be such a list posted on the door in crayon, here is what it would say:

1. Wash your hands. Keep the environment clean and don’t contaminate the play area. Do not use toxic materials.
2. Prevent illness by ensuring proper nutrition, regular fresh air and movement. Use common sense when determining which foods are good and which are not.
3. Treat illness or disease with appropriate medicine. Stay away if you are sick. Consider what worked for your grandmother.
4. Ensure a proper ratio of caregivers to dependents. Provide space that allows for an appropriate density of individuals in every room.
5. Don’t take more than you need and leave some for others. Don’t take or destroy things that don’t belong to you.
6. Listen to your elders. Obey the authorities but ask questions out loud if you do not understand.
7. If a new food is put in front of you, try it first before you say it is yucky.
8. Don’t call each other names or push each other around. Especially if you are one of the bigger kids.
9. Dispose of waste in proper containers. Designate an area for the use of the potty. Clean up accidents properly.
10. Incorporate joy, play, exploration and creativity into every day. Allow children to be children. As Joel Salatin would say: celebrate their ‘kidness’ (although he usually refers to chickenness or pigness but you get the idea).

I do not for one second mean to imply that taking care of a cow is anywhere near the same thing as taking care of a human child. But humour me for one second, open your mind and imagine this set of guiding principles on a farm.

I think that we all need to take responsibility for our choices and stop judging the other guy. We have to find out everything we can from a variety of sources and make educated yet intuitive choices. Further, we should lean more on a higher power or some kind of natural cycle. After all, whether we believe in it or not, it has been ticking along without our ‘help’ for thousands of years and like our grandmothers, probably learned a few things along the way that we don’t know yet. We should question everything we hear and don’t take any information for granted – whether from a shocking documentary or directly out of your friendly neighbourhood farmer’s mouth.

It’s child’s play really. Though I wouldn’t guess for a minute it could be that simple.

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