Thanks to my savvy Facebook friends I found out about the free online screening of the movie Hungry for Change. (It’s available only until March 31st, watch it here!)
I invited Anna to watch it with me; it’s a documentary about our current food choices and how they affect our health. One could assume that the topic would be pretty boring for a 10 year-old, but that’s not our case.
Anna has sat with me through Earthlings (and yes, there was a lot of crying– from both of us. A lot.), Supersize Me, Food Inc., and Forks over knives. I keep telling her that it’s important to give her access to information so she can draw her own conclusions and make her own choices. It has worked wonders. Now don’t get me wrong, she’s still a kid and if she’s offered cake it’s very likely that she’ll take it, but at the same time she’s aware that she’s making a choice. She also consistently chooses to say “no thanks” to fizzy sodas when at friends’ homes because there’s knowledge of the havoc they create in the body. What I’m saying is, though we still have a way to go in the path of decision making there definitely have been changes already, and these changes I think have happened mostly because of the awareness she now has.
One thing I’ve worried about and have put emphasis on is the fact that we can’t go preaching our ways to others, assuming everyone should do what we do. Well, I guess technically we could, but to what point? I can’t imagine anyone welcoming a personal attack on their food choices, and it’s certainly not our place to tell them they’re doing it “wrong”. I believe in offering information and letting the chips fall where they may. Some people are perfectly comfortable in their patterns and have no desire to change, and that isn’t any less respectable than those who take the opportunity to learn and move beyond potentially harmful ways. It’s choice, and it’s a personal thing.
When we go grocery shopping there’s a game we play sometimes: When Anna asks for crackers, cookies, treats or anything like that we turn the package and read the ingredients. If there’s one single thing we don’t recognize, then buying that product is a no-go. The way I’ve explained this to her is, you know you wouldn’t take food from a stranger; the companies that make these products are strangers, so why would we eat something they offer us if we don’t even know what it is? It’s just as dangerous.
In the middle of the documentary Anna pressed pause to tell me the following story:
“The other day I was having lunch at school with my friend T and she pulled out some cup noodles. She was just breaking them off and eating them dry like that!”
(I began to fret)
“… then I told her we should read the ingredients!”
(I got really worried)
But what do you know, the girls took the package and made a game out of trying to pronounce the tongue twisting ingredients. They laughed hard at trying to say things like disodium guanylate, sodium alginate, tocopherols and maltodextrin. Anna’s friend T looked at her giggling and exclaimed “I don’t even know what these things are!”, to which Anna still laughing, responded with a Yeah, so why put it in your body? Good point, agreed T. She took her cup of noodles and dumped it in the trash.
I could hardly believe it. Leave it to kids to accidentally turn what could be a touchy subject into a game in which they’re willing to learn from each other. I was very humbled by both girls.
Children are more intelligent than we give them credit for, and they want information. They want to feel part of their everyday choices and they appreciate being seen as people who can understand and analyze by themselves. As a confirmation to this after the movie was over Anna turned and gave me a hug, “I’m so glad you let me watch stuff like this while I’m still a kid.”
You deserve nothing less, kiddo. You deserve nothing less.