Recently I watched an artistic view on our food source called "Our Daily Bread". A look at our mass-producing food industry and I have to tell you, even I was shocked at some of the things shown.
night I was discussing the documentary and my children overheard what I
was saying. They were curious and wanted to watch it as well. I was
hesitant at first, because I want my kids to eat their food. But after
talking with them, I thought it would be good for them to know where
their food comes from and how it goes from an animal to the styrofoam
plastic wrapped pieces of meat in the supermarket.
Easter Weekend, we planned on taking the kids smelt fishing. Something we
haven't done as a family as we always miss the times they run. But we
were in luck this year, they were just starting to run down the small
stream on our lake. We explained to them how it would all go down,
what they had to do and they were quite excited.
Ironically, that was the night we watched the documentary on our food source... it was their
choice to watch and they had many questions afterwards. So it was
fitting that we went smelt fishing to catch our breakfast for the next
morning. A continuation of what they learned in the documentary and why I
choose to buy locally from farms and grow my own food.
When we arrived at the smelt run location, there were already about 10
other people there. Some of them we knew and some were new friends we
made that night. It was quite the social event and we enjoyed it very
Unfortunately, we didn't have all the proper equipment to catch the
little fish and everyone was willing to pass on their nets to the kids
to catch a few. They had to be patient and learn the technique of
catching them as they swam upstream. One of the men even waded through
the culvert to scare the spawning fish over to us. The kids had a blast.
We caught about a dozen of the fish and since I was the designated
cleaner, I was quite happy with that number.
This started conversations of hunting and fishing, about catching your
own food and knowing where it comes from. My kids were listening in and
absorbing the conversation.
When it was time to go home, about 11pm, one of the guys dumped his pail
into ours so we would have more fish... I thought it was nice, but
really all I could think of was, I had to clean more fish!
On the way back, both kids started to ask if they could keep a few as
pets, that they were not sure if they wanted to kill them. Although most
of them were already dead, the realization that their heads had to be
cut off and cleaned started to hit home for them.
This is where the lesson of the law of nature started. Talking about
taking an animal's life is one thing, but when it comes time to actually
do it, is another. We talked about having respect for the animal, that
if you are to take a life, you are thankful for it, give thanks for the
animal to give up its life so you can sustain yours. And that you only
take what you need or what the population can handle. This goes for
plants as well as they are living creatures too
We got home, got our knives, scissors, bowls and cleaned the sink to
make way for the process. As they picked up the first fish to clean,
they examined it. My daughter remarked how silvery it was and my son
looked at the eyes, gills and fins.
Then they started questioning if they could eat them, that these once
alive creatures that they caught was soon to look like the fish they see
in the supermarket, but something changed. They now had a connection
with these animals. That they are living creatures that had to give up
their life. The air changed from excitement of bringing home the catch
to respect and connection to just where our food comes from. A real
appreciation of the food.
They each took turns cleaning a few fish and although they were
wondering just if they could eat it. I turned to them and asked how this
is different from eating the fish we buy from the supermarket, or that
Grandpa brings to us all filleted and in a package? The connection
becomes deeper and they realize that the difference is that they
themselves caught it and cleaned it. That they have connected to the
Ah, a great experience for the kids. My daughter soon became turned off
eating them, and I just said to her, "why don't you just think about how
you are feeling and tomorrow try just one and go from there." I am sure she dreamt about the whole ordeal.
The next morning, we got the smelt out and lightly battered them and
fried them. My daughter even helped in the cooking. At first she was
only going to try one. She wasn't sure if she would like it. And what
about the bones? What are you suppose to do with them? Well eat them of
Tonight, we will go back to harvest another dozen. This time, I am
letting my son and daughter clean them.