I’ll never forget a story I read about a group of 2nd graders who went on a field trip to a farm. Although I can’t remember where I read it originally, I will tell you that the story is true, which is why it has remained so memorable to me.
On their tour of the farm, the children had the opportunity to see many different types of plants growing. The farmer showed them tomatoes, lettuces and greens, beans, squash, okra, cucumbers, peppers and carrots, among others. When touring each plant, the students were allowed to examine, feel, taste (if they wanted), and ask questions.
When they got to the carrots, the farmer pulled some of the carrots out of the ground, brushing the dirt off with his calloused hands. Many of the children were amazed that carrots came out of the ground! They looked on in wonder. One boy, in particular, made a grimacing face and loudly proclaimed, “If I knew carrots came out of the ground, I wouldn’t have eaten them!” He then proceeded to say that he’d never eat carrots again.
This story really made an impression on me for two reasons. One, because out of a group of maybe 20 second graders, many of them didn’t know where carrots came from. And two, because one of those second graders was disgusted by the idea that food could come out of the ground!
What a disconnect these children have from their food and from mother earth! Worse than a child who cannot appreciate that his food grows from the ground is a child who doesn’t eat food from the earth at all—only processed frankenfood!
What has our culture come to, that our children don’t know where sustenance comes from? Everything we eat should originally come from the earth. Now, some people eat chemicals, but that is not sustenance. And many frankenfoods originally come from the earth (e.g. high fructose corn syrup). We consume animals that were made to eat food from the earth. The earth is our mother outside the womb. When we are no longer attached to our own mothers and receiving nutrients from them, we begin to eat other foods, foods which should come from the earth. And what did our mothers eat, when they carried us inside them? Food from the earth, no? But today, in our American culture, we are detached from our ecological umbilical.
In this culture, there is a disconnect between farmer, consumer, and regulatory bodies (e.g. FDA). What is being done to cultivate and nurture mother earth? For all this “sustainable living” and “save the planet” and “go green” trending, what of our food supply? It’s all good to want to save water, recycle, stop pollution, etc.—but what of us polluting our soil with pesticides and chemicals, and in turn consuming the food grown from there and polluting our bodies? …Save the earth? Are we not a part of the earth? And do we not return to it? Are we not a part of a greater ecosystem? The rulers of the animal kingdom? Stewards of terra and hydra? Harnessers of solar and wind? All this to say, that should we not just be in good health, but in exceptional health?
Yet the majority of people that I see in America don’t seem to be concerned about what they’re consuming, absorbing, breathing, becoming. If we continue in this direction, where else could we be heading but to sickness and death?
For these second graders…seven years on this earth should have been enough to know that carrots—that living food—comes from the ground. The dirt is a life-source, full of minerals, nutrients, potential. It’s time we reconnected to our ecological umbilical, re-learn to till the earth and sow it’s bounty—or at least support those who do so responsibly by buying local produce from farmers we know and can count on to be good stewards to their animals and the land.
You better believe it, that if anyone asks my seven year old where a carrot comes from, they’ll say, “The ground of course. Don’t you know?”