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There Is No Love In That Food

“Even though the food is bad, I really like McDonald’s,” my son explained.

“Why is that, son?” my husband asked. He expected to hear something about indoor play places or ice cream. Instead, my soon-to-be five year old continued, “Well, I think it’s special.”

“But they’re not special,” I interrupted. “Every McDonald’s is exactly the same. They all look the same, make the same foods. There is nothing special or unique about them.”

“The really special food is the food Mommy cooks for you,” my husband contributed.

“What makes it special?”

“All the love that goes into it. The food Mommy makes is full of love every step of the way — from the way the vegetables and animals were cared for and raised, to the way the animals were killed and turned into meats, to the way Mommy bought them and turned them into meals. But the food at McDonald’s, there’s no love in that food.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, maybe there’s love in the heart of the person buying it for you, like Granna or Grandad. But there’s no love in how the animals were raised or how the food was prepared.”

“What happens if there’s no love in the food? Can you eat it?”

“Well, you can eat it. But if all you ever ate was food without love, a little piece of you would die. You’d suffer in a world with just a little bit less love in it, and that’d be sad.”

“I don’t want to be sad.”

“Neither do I.”

(photo by libraryman)
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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.

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29 Responses to There Is No Love In That Food
  1. Local Nourishment
    September 9, 2009 | 8:57 am

    Ah, teachable moments. Aren’t they wonderful? And your husband certainly has a handle on something very special there. Thank you for sharing that!
    .-= Local Nourishment

  2. Silvanamondo
    September 9, 2009 | 9:03 am

    Definately what it all boils down to…RT @FoodRenegade: My husband on McDonald’s: There is no love in that food. http://bit.ly/YXcWt

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  3. Mrs. Not the Jet Set
    September 9, 2009 | 9:09 am

    Thanks for sharing! We also struggle with this type of questioning from our kids about fast food. I’ll have to take the page our your playbook for the next time I get asked.
    .-= Mrs. Not the Jet Set

  4. hypenoticbam
    September 9, 2009 | 9:12 am

    There Is No Love In That Food http://is.gd/34VJI (Via Food Renegade blog)

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  5. Hortense
    September 9, 2009 | 9:33 am

    Wow, telling a kid “a little piece of you would die?” Do you think a 4 year old has the reasoning skills to understand that?

  6. Formwell
    September 9, 2009 | 9:52 am

    Reading @foodrenegade There Is No Love In That Food http://tinyurl.com/m5t2ve sooo true!

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  7. KristenM
    September 9, 2009 | 10:06 am

    Hortense — That depends on the 4 year old. An inquisitive 4 year old (who will be 5 in a few weeks) as exposed to poetry, piety, and metaphor as mine? Definitely.

    Mrs. Not the Jet Set — Right. You can only tell them the same answer so many times before you start to feel like a broken record. I’m so thankful that my husband is good at looking at things from a slightly different point of view.

    Local Nourishment — Life is full of teachable moments!!

  8. parousia
    September 9, 2009 | 10:21 am

    wow… this is life that is too substantial to be merely imagined

  9. Green Bean
    September 9, 2009 | 10:41 am

    Ohh, can you send your husband over here? That was a lovely explanation!
    .-= Green Bean

  10. Hortense
    September 9, 2009 | 11:04 am

    “A little piece of you would die. You

  11. KristenM
    September 9, 2009 | 11:08 am

    Hortense — I’m sorry you find our parenting style stupid. To each his own.

    Green Bean — I thought so, too.

    Parousia — Yes, that’s kinda the point. If we really believe that all of creation is shot through with the presence of God, then it ought to affect how we live. And it would make even the smallest of things (like our food choices) rich with meaning and substance.

  12. mkdphotography
    September 9, 2009 | 11:58 am

    Reading @foodrenegade There Is No Love In That Food http://tinyurl.com/m5t2ve

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  13. Formwell (FormWell)
    September 9, 2009 | 2:52 pm

    Reading @foodrenegade There Is No Love In That Food http://tinyurl.com/m5t2ve sooo true!

  14. Lauren Grosz
    September 9, 2009 | 3:44 pm

    Kristen, what a great story. My daughter is now 8 but she definitely could have handled that explanation at your son’s age. Today, we wanted to go to our local Gelato shop for a treat. They use real cane sugar instead of HFCS. Unfortunately, they were closed and as she was really looking forward to it so I suggested Ben n Jerry’s even though they do use HFCS. This time I was willing to make a concession but she suggested the cupcake shop because she wanted to spend our money at place that uses real ingredients – butter, cream, and eggs!

  15. narsenau
    September 9, 2009 | 4:11 pm

    Reading @foodrenegade There Is No Love In That Food http://tinyurl.com/m5t2ve

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  16. Melicious
    September 9, 2009 | 4:26 pm

    Brilliant! Love it! We joke in our house that you have to be happy when you chop the vegetables or your grumpiness will go into the food. Healthy food is love — thanks for writing this so beautifully.
    .-= Melicious´s last blog ..Be yourself, loudly. =-.

  17. Natalie
    September 9, 2009 | 4:28 pm

    My three-year-old screamed with delight as we passed the establishment today and I couldn’t find the right words to explain why we don’t eat there. Aside from telling her that it’s junk food. This was a very timely post and I will use this the next time it comes up! Thank you!
    .-= Natalie´s last blog ..We’re All Going to the Dentist! =-.

  18. mkdphotography (MKDPhotography)
    September 9, 2009 | 4:58 pm

    Reading @foodrenegade There Is No Love In That Food http://tinyurl.com/m5t2ve

  19. debbie
    September 9, 2009 | 4:59 pm

    Beautiful…

    I love when those moments result in such priceless explanations. Please thank your husband for sharing his wisdom, not just with your son, but with all of us.

  20. emily
    September 9, 2009 | 5:41 pm

    my kids allsay they hate mcdonalds. but my kids take things a bit literally so i probably would leave out the “dying” comment for them.
    .-= emily´s last blog ..The Real Food of Summer: veggies and butter! =-.

  21. narsenau (Natalie McQuilton)
    September 9, 2009 | 9:11 pm

    Reading @foodrenegade There Is No Love In That Food http://tinyurl.com/m5t2ve

  22. Elisabeth
    September 10, 2009 | 4:01 am

    I would have seized the moment not only to indoctrinate my child on healthy eating (as I did shamelessly) but also to do some market research.

    Why do children find McDonald’s so attractive? The bright colours, familiarity, TV ads…WHAT?I wanna know!

    Just to add: My wholefood-indoctrinated kids had, naturally, a rebellious junk-food period when they were teenagers.

    However as they got older – and more importantly on their own account – they discovered the benefits of healthy eating. Now they are organic-fanatics themselves!
    .-= Elisabeth´s last blog ..Hemp porridge knowledge =-.

  23. Living A Whole Life
    September 10, 2009 | 4:58 am

    What a great way to look at food! Thanks!

    Karla
    .-= Living A Whole Life´s last blog ..Natural Air Fresheners =-.

  24. emily
    September 10, 2009 | 12:40 pm

    elizabeth- i wasraised/”indoctrinated”on real food and did rebel a bit as a teen when i had my own money and could buy candy bars whenever i wanted. but overall, i have always enjoyed, and chosen realfood, and now raise my kids eating real food. ive also always been adventerous with food and attribute this to my parents serving lots of varried, real food to me as a kid.
    .-= emily´s last blog ..The Real Food of Summer: veggies and butter! =-.

  25. Dawn @ Small Footprint Family
    September 10, 2009 | 10:52 pm

    Wow, what a sweet story. I will try to remember this when my daughter is old enough to ask about food.
    .-= Dawn @ Small Footprint Family´s last blog ..Weekly Environmental News Highlights – 9/10/2009 =-.

  26. Jennifer T. (hippygirl)
    September 11, 2009 | 4:15 pm

    My son is an unapologetic meat-eater. He knows fully well where meat comes from and has no problem with it. I was a vegetarian for about 5 years (most of his almost 6 year old life) and he knows why. I recently started eating meat again, but only local, humanely raised, etc. I have explained this to both of my kids and they really seem to get it. However, we do eat fast food and eat at restaurants occasionally (trying to cut down on that for many reasons), so I am waiting for them to decide that they do not want to eat meat at fast food places. I’m not sure it will happen, but it is their choice and I can at least give them an awareness of where that food comes from.

    I do love the idea that the food we make at home is made with love. That is so true! Even when I buy things at the store, I am thinking of my family and their health, so even those choices are made with love, which is more than any fast food place can say.
    .-= Jennifer T. (hippygirl)´s last blog ..Homemade food =-.

  27. DansMum06
    September 14, 2009 | 9:57 am

    Reading @foodrenegade There Is No Love In That Food http://tinyurl.com/m5t2ve

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  28. DansMum06 (DansMum)
    September 14, 2009 | 2:57 pm

    Reading @foodrenegade There Is No Love In That Food http://tinyurl.com/m5t2ve

  29. wendy
    October 22, 2013 | 5:47 pm

    Could u use honey to sweeten??

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Who Am I?

My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.