What’s For Dinner?
Taste, Availability, Health, Cost, Culture, Hunger, Ethics…there are a myriad of reasons we choose to eat certain foods. Sometimes the choice is fairly unconscious. We’ve all undoubtedly been engrossed in a movie only to find ourselves surprised to discover that the popcorn bag, once full, is suddenly empty. But unconscious eating comes at a price–social, environmental and health–to name a few. For our most recent Cornerstone Day we went, as a school, just down the road from The Outdoor Academy to visit the Gwynn Valley Farm.
Understanding where food comes from is one of the biggest steps in moving towards conscious consumption. After a brief introduction to the farm, Farmer Dale, walked us out into his pasture to meet his herd of cows. “There’s Leonard,” Dale says, as a three month old Wholesteen calf ambles towards us. There is lots of crooning over the adorable calf. After some discussion over the process of caring for the animals, Dale points out the tag in Leonard’s ear, “2014 on the tag, means he’s a calf born summer of 2014—which means he’ll be 2016 hamburger.”
Many of us are fairly distanced from the reality that our hamburger was once an “awww” worthy calf. The danger of that distance is that it allows us to take part in systems that we’d never condone if we were personally involved. That pause we feel when we think about putting Leonard on a bun is healthy. Sustaining life requires taking life, but it doesn’t mean we should take that life lightly.
It is part of our tradition at OA to pause before a meal and “Give Thanks.” Part of our food themed Cornerstone day—besides being an excuse to commune with cows and chickens and goats–was an opportunity to connect with the complexity and beauty of what is at the end of our forks.
Dean of Students/Environmental Seminar Teacher