(or, what to do when your seven year old refuses to eat today what he gobbled down yesterday)
Mmmmm, bacon. Meat candy. I know vegetarians who make exceptions for bacon, omnivores who gobble down pounds of it at a time, no one who doesn’t love it. We’re lucky to be able to purchase locally raised heritage pork in bulk, but even bacon that’s not locally produced is pretty darn good.
Which is why my husband was so shocked when our son flat-out refused to eat bacon for breakfast one morning this past winter, when he had happily eaten it the day before. I got a phone call at work requesting me to discuss the problem with my son – who was so upset about the situation he was crying, and then had to get off the phone because he got a nosebleed – which left me scratching my head as well. Apparently we had been good at instilling in him the need to question his food’s sources, but not so good about discussing the particular options for responsible food choices.
So, as my pedantic brain is wont to do, I started thinking of the conversation to have with him and ended up with a flow chart (you have been forewarned of my geek factor).
The conversation continues – it’s not just a one-time and you’re done thing – but the big issues and questions that arose were important ones. Why do you think pigs have rights? Should we stop killing all animals for food production? What would happen to us? What would happen to the animals? Should we just make sure that pigs while living live like pigs should live? Why don’t we do that as a matter of course?
So yes, I’ve discussed food systems planning, factory farms, free range animals, the state of animal domestication and husbandry, the pros and cons of vegetarianism, processed versus non-processed food and their relative costs, and overall nutrition issues with my second grader. He swore off bacon for a couple of days but doesn’t mind eating it now that he knows that the pig from where it came lived a happy, mudwallowing, grunting life at a local farm. He also further understands why we don’t like him eating school lunches, and will look at food labels in the grocery store to avoid things he can’t pronounce.
Hopefully, I’ve helped to inform his decision-making. If he decides one day to become a vegetarian, I’m ok with that, as long as it’s not a knee-jerk reaction. And in the meantime, we’re doing our best to make sure pigs have rights AND we have meat candy.