If you’re a parent, you’re trying to raise your kids to love Real Food — food that’s nourishing, traditional, & sustainably raised or grown. You want them to know the joy of digging in a garden, planting seeds, and harvesting fresh veggies & fruits. You want them to chirp at chickens, prefer your homemade meals over fast food, and more.
As a parent, I rejoiced when I read the recent post up at Civil Eats about Kids Radically Changing the Food System. Read this article. Then — no matter what — NEVER let your child feel like they’re too young to make a difference!
On a recent Sunday afternoon in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, over a hundred people gathered at the 6000-square foot Eagle Street Rooftop Farm to talk about the farm’s newest addition: six laying hens.
The farmer, Annie Novak, put together a panel that included Bronx urban gardener Karen Washington, Owen Taylor from the non-profit organization Just Food, and a thirteen year-old chicken enthusiast from Massachusetts named Orren Fox.
“I pretty much planned the event so that Orren would come down and see the farm,” Novak said. This comes as no surprise since she runs an organization called Growing Chefs, which educates youth about food on the farm and in the kitchen.
Fox has twenty-seven hens and four ducks in Newburyport, 35 miles north of Boston. Last year, he started O’s Eggs, a small farm business selling eggs for $5 a dozen.
That Sunday, he held one of Novak’s hens, which he used to discuss chicken anatomy. He pointed out the crop, where food goes to be digested with the aid of swallowed rocks, the comb (he suggested using Vaseline in winter to keep it from freezing) and tail, where the hen produces wax that she uses to clean her feathers. “If your hen looks like she doesn’t have a head, she is probably just cleaning herself,” he said to laughter.
His love of chickens started early. At age nine he was a volunteer cleaning chicken coops at a local farm, learning all he could about the birds. Then he adopted his own flock. After choosing chickens as the subject of a school research project, “I found out how horribly most hens in this country are raised,” he said. “I know chickens are smart, they have personalities, and opinions. I am not ok with what I consider mistreatment of these cool birds for cheap meat and eggs.”
Fox is one of a growing number of young people taking on big projects with the aim of changing the food system. Author Michael Pollan last year released a young reader’s edition of his bestselling book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, to reach this growing audience.
“Food is a uniquely empowering issue, it’s something you can change without waiting for government to act, since you’ve got those three votes every day, and this particularly appeals to young people,” Pollan said. “I also wanted to reach them before they went out on their own and took control of their food choices.”
No longer satisfied with blindly eating chicken nuggets, middle-schoolers are raising backyard chickens instead. Or making movies.
She then goes on to tell the story of two teenagers who created a feature-length documentary on kids and food politics that’s already been aired on Discovery’s Planet Green and is making its way across the country’s film festival circuit.
Seriously. Go read the rest of the article.
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