Last night I went to tuck in Camden, and as he was putting his book away, he asked, "Can we move to Europe?"
What?? Where on Earth did this come from??
He's reading Chew on This: Everything you don't want to know about fast food by Eric Schlosser, the same guy that wrote Fast Food Nation. Chew on This is the children's version of the first book (more for middle school ages and up, but Camden's an advanced reader, and we read this together a few years ago - because I wanted to know what was in it, as well - but he's reading it again now). (I will let you know there is a part that mentions how either Santa or the Easter Bunny isn't real - can't remember which one - the first time we read through this, I just skipped that part b/c Camden still believed. Now he knows, and it's fine for him to read that. But if your child still believes...just cluing you in. You might want to read it out loud to him/her in that case...?)
In this book is ALL SORTS of things you don't want to know - but SHOULD. After reading it the first time, Camden learned a lot and changed his way of thinking when it came to eating at places like McDonald's...for a while. I'm glad he's revisiting the book, and on his own (he just up and decided to read it again one day!) because he might change his way of thinking even more so now. Some of the topics have to do with what's in the food, how it is really prepared, how the animals are treated, hormones they are given while alive, the marketing towards children, how workers are treated in factories where the toys are made, etc, etc. This list goes on!! After reading these books and watching the documentary movie Fast Food Nation (which I did let Camden watch, too) a few years ago, we have certainly cut down our fast food dining, and we are VERY picky about where we WILL eat. And we haven't eaten at a McDonald's in YEARS!! No kidding. Well, I did stop through and get pancakes one morning when I was pregnant, but it's only because I was craving them BIG time (any pancakes, not McD's) and they were one of the very few things I could eat at that time with the morning sickness - and Camden doesn't know. ;)
(GRANDPARENTS...if you're reading...these are some of the reasons we don't eat at these places. It's not just that it's junk food...it's also about quality, health, and all sorts of things related to how they run their businesses. So when we ask you NOT to take the kids to McDonald's or other fast food places, please understand why and go along with us. Thanks!) :)
Anyway...I digress...When I came in to tuck Camden into bed, he had just finished reading some of the information on chickens and how they are butchered in many factories in America. It's really sad and gross, and if you care at all about animals (and I mean even just the tiniest bit), you would be horrified at some of the stories. I won't go into detail....but I'm not exaggerating at how horrific it is. The first time Camden read this book, he would keep coming back to this topic; it was clear that it really hurt his heart knowing what happened to the chickens at these slaughterhouses. The book also discusses how European countries deal with these issues, having the chickens breathe a gas that "painlessly knocks them unconscious." There are many pros to this method - it's more efficient, better for the birds' welfare, better for the workers in the plants, and doesn't affect the quality of the meat. But it does cost more. (I would be willing to pay a little extra, though, and I'm sure more people would if they knew what went on in American slaughterhouses. And this is just with the chickens...he hasn't gotten to the part about the cattle slaughterhouses again yet. It can be even worse there.)
So, while we have no plans on moving to Europe in order to be able to eat chicken that was killed more humanely, I am very proud of my son for caring so much and wanting to be proactive in some way. And it's a good time for us and him to start thinking about what we CAN do. I'm not going to stop eating chicken (just being honest), but there are things we can do to change some of our ways. I did consider telling Camden he could stop eating chicken. I would support that if he chose to do so. I know a number of people that don't eat meat because they do not support these kinds of practices. I'm not sure I could give it up...though it has been a thought from time to time; just don't think I could do it! Time to brainstorm other ideas, though, I suppose!
If you haven't read either of these books or watched the documentary - check them out!! I recommend the books more than the documentary because it gets more into the behind the scenes information, while the documentary (from what I recall) is more about what happens to the guy that eats McDonald's straight for however long and how it affects his health. But definitely get the book(s)!! And let your children read Chew on This, too!
Now...any thoughts from you guys? Any ideas? Especially ones that a nine-year-old (he'll be TEN THIS MONTH - oh my!!!) can get into? Please share!!