The 6th and 7th grade kids at Sage International charter school had lots of questions for us. “Do you have mule deer or white tail deer?” “Who will take care of the cows if you die?” “Does it hurt the calves to put a tag in their ear?” “Do you slaughter the cows on the ranch or take them somewhere else to be slaughtered?” And this one from a petite dark-haired girl, “Isn’t the filet from the back of the cow?”
We showed them slides of a “year in the life” of a cow on Pratt ranch. From calving, then walking to mountain range, winter feeding, and finally a photo from Portland Oregon, where we helped the staff at Burgerville serve burgers from our co-op, Country Natural Beef. We talked freely about the cold hard facts of beef production – taking grass that humans can’t harvest and turning it into nutritious delicious beef. And how, along the way, nature recycles plant life by manure on the ground. The children’s ability to grasp the entirety, right down to the human element (what if you die?) took me by surprise.
I applaud the administrator and teachers of the school for exploring this very practical topic - for we all eat. They used a student edition of The Omnivore’s Dilemna, Michael Pollan’s critical look at our food system, as a preliminary to our presentation. They visited farms in the Boise area. And even though the book is one-sided, the kids didn’t seem to be. They are naturally open-minded and inquisitive. Maybe it’s us adults that insist on taking sides and thereby lose our ability to learn from each other.
Here's a few of the slides we showed the kids:
|mother and son|
"They look alike!" they said
|Just good honest "real" food|
Country Natural Beef in Bend, Oregon