‘I believe the children are our future,
Teach them well and let them lead the way,
Show them all the beauty they possess inside,
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier,
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be….’
Whitney Houston knew it and so does the food industry. Teach them while they are young and they’ll never question it when they grow up. Yep I’ve found a child’s colouring book promoting the factory farming of pigs, read it here.
The truth is that the majority of us has a wonky perception of reality when it comes to farming, thanks to our childhood. ‘Drink milk for strong bones’ is the first one that springs to mind. (Which, if you haven’t read the post about ‘calcium and dairy’ you’ll know that bone density is mainly attributed to weight bearing exercise done during your 20s and 30s and over 40 food contain calcium – anyway back to the point…)
Start ’em young and ensure your customer of the future. We all do it, we take the kids on days out to ‘show’ farms. We buy them farm sets of the happy farmer and the animals dotted around the pastures. We coo at the baby chicks. And so we should, we should show our children the sunny side of the street, teach them what a good farm looks like and to love and respect nature. On the flip side we should teach them that not all farms are like that and that they should watch out for it as they would any danger. The same as we teach them about about crossing the road, stranger danger, smoking, junk food.
But to teach children that factory farms are great places – that is wrong for so many reasons. Where taking the pigs away from the mud into the clean barren plastic indoor stall, with a slatted floor (to allow the poo and wee to flow away) is a good thing. Or that small metal cages that house the mummy pigs are a great because it makes it safer for the piglets, or to teach them about mutilation of 3-10 days old piglets, or that ‘culling’ is the practice used to deal with the sick pigs. ‘Don’t worry children the sick pig has been culled, it is all OK now’.
YES this is happening. A colouring book and quiz aimed at children of 12 yrs and under is being distributed by the US pork council, and supported by the USDA (equivalent to DEFRA) and the US government. It is lovingly, titled ‘Producers, pigs and pork’, see the real life version here Factory farming colouring books
(double click the link), and take the very age inappropriate Swine Knowledge Junior Quizbowl
it is worth a look, even for a laugh at how ridiculous it is. If you don’t laugh you’ll cry!
Now this is in the US so why is it relevant to us? Well there is a universal theme here and a serious topic. We are very lucky that people in the UK are not so gullible. No one would ever fall for such a tactic. Would we? Think about how many images and statements of false advertising we see every day relating to food production that we don’t question? The smiling child holding the chicken or the cuddling family in front of their spacious lawn rather than the massive windowless sheds, the Willow farm logo, when no such farm exists it is meat that comes from the EU, not even a specific country. When we start to see past the marketing messages we start to see what we need to and make the right choices.
Get your colouring pencils out, draw a blue sky, big fluffy clouds, a big yellow sun with spikes, a cow grazing in the long grass and a pig laying in a muddy hole. That is the image I want both in my imagination and my reality. P.S. If anyone does do a drawing, I’d love to see it!
Love you Whitney!
The Ethical Omnivore