Something I meant to write about it my last post (but completely forgot, or at least got sidetracked!) is my effort to teach my children to be mindful consumers. I always seem to forget to write about WHY I do things like make jams and preserves at home, rather than take the easy and cheaper route of buying low price preserves at the supermarket.
In recent years, we as consumers have been made very much more aware of the journey that our food takes to get onto our plates. We have seen campaigners like Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall using their influence as high-profile chefs to highlight the poor conditions in which a significant number of animals are kept before being killed to produce meat for our tables. We have heard about harmful chemicals being sprayed on food crops, and have witnessed the rise in popularity of organic food.
We don’t have the space ourselves to grow more than a couple of tomato plants and a basil plant as we have only windowsills but no garden. However, the boys have enjoyed this windowsill horticulture, and are on a daily hunt for the ripening tomatoes and chilli peppers. So, as we have no garden ourselves, I’ve enjoyed taking them blackberry picking in our local park, as they get the experience of seeing food growing at first hand, and can start to appreciate the work it takes to prepare food truly from scratch rather than buying pre-made foodstuffs in the shops. It was an added bonus this afternoon when I was able to take my younger son, Cheeky, outside our flat to pick even more fruit (the elderberries) within view of our front window. We will ask around to see if anyone has any cooking apples ripening that they can spare for our jam making, and then the boys will help me to make the jam which they will love to eat on their toast, in their sandwiches and in their porridge through the coming winter.
This all fits together with my teaching them about where their sausages and roast dinners come from. Jo has been a great help in this, as my boys have been able to get to know her various livestock and realise that animals should be treated well (like royalty, in Jo’s case!) even when they are destined for the dinner table. They have also had the opportunity to learn and accept from a young age that the sausages, ham, bacon and roast gammon they both love, as well as the minced beef in Cheeky’s favourite lasagne and Handsome’s favourite cottage pie have all come from what was once a living animal. I’m doing my best to teach them to buy meat according to whether the animals have been treated well, and I’m also trying to teach them to question where their food comes from, rather than just accepting whatever arrives in front of them. They have both eaten and enjoyed meat from Jo’s pigs, even when they’ve known the pig. I’ll admit that at first, they were a little wary and squeamish of eating meat from a pig they knew and talked to, but they are very receptive to reasonable argument and so after I’d explained that there’s really no difference between eating pork from a pig you’ve known and from one you haven’t, they were both fine with it.
Well, this post has got away from me a bit, but I’ve been meaning to write all of this down for some time. Sometimes I feel like I don’t really write much about what I believe to be right. It’s much harder to express beliefs than it is to simply write down the events of the day.