And chicken doesn't come from a package. And, your chicken nuggets most likely aren't even chicken! This blog has been inspired by two great friends of mine, Katherine and Parvati, with whom I've had the privilege of having real adult english-speaking conversations with the last two days. Thank you ladies. Something I got from both of these conversations is how grateful I am that my daughter, Liliana, is currently growing up in a country where food is about SURVIVAL, plain and simple. And that it's actually okay to see where our food comes from. But I didn't always feel this way.
When I first visited El Salvador with my mom a year and a half ago, I remember they were doing us a huge honor by killing one of their chickens for us to make soup. We being the Americans we are, were devastated by this. We didn't want to actually SEE the live animal which was soon going to be our dinner! I remember my brother-in-law, Mario, telling his mother not to kill the chicken in front of us, to take it around back. But I was still afraid of hearing it, this poor animal suffering, I thought.
Since actually moving to El Salvador 9 months ago, I have been witness to quite a few of our animals becoming dinner and my perspective has recently changed. We have a chicken coop out back that is quite large. We always have several chickens and 4-6 ducks. One of our hens recently hatched 10 little "pollitos", or little baby chickens. So we have quite the little family back there. Every now and then we get eggs from either the ducks or chickens and we make eggs in the morning and we would love to raise enough chickens to never have to buy eggs again. What I have realized is that we raise these animals in a loving, caring environment. They have good food and a good home. When they are killed for food, it is done out of respect and it is done out of necessity. The people of El Salvador and other third world countries are not consumed with guilt about killing their animals for food, but they also raise them in healthy environments and don't put them in cages with 20 other chickens and pump their cows full of hormones. They eat meat and eggs because they do what they have to do to survive. And they actually consume the WHOLE animal. I have never seen any part of an animal go to waste here. The kids love all the parts that I still don't like and won't eat.
As humans, we need food. That's a given. Our American culture though gives us the idea that as long as we don't see where our food is coming from, then it's okay to eat. This is actually completely twisted. I have heard people say they won't eat organic food from a Farmers Market because it is "dirty". Well HELLO!! Of course it is...carrots come from the earth as well as all the other fruits and vegetables. The grocery stores just happen to buy from large producers that spray crap on everything to make them look nice. Most of them aren't even real anymore, it's all becoming genetically modified. (I'm realizing this is going to need a new blog post do go more in depth about that. lol)
One of my shifts in perspective happened a couple of days ago with a wake-up call from my husband, which was a pleasant surprise. I was worried about Liliana witnessing the ducks being killed and feathers being plucked for our lunch party. We had another incident where she got a little upset by seeing the feathers being plucked and cried "no, pollo, no." Although she had moved on from that incident, I obviously had not. Eduardo told me that it's good for her to see because she sees that chickens and ducks (sometimes) are for food and that there is nothing wrong with that. And you know what, he was actually right! It's just my limited American beliefs that she shouldn't take part in the preparation of her food and see how it all happens. Eduardo reminded me that if I'm not upset about it and make a big deal out of it and see it as bad, then she won't. And he couldn't have been more right! Our beliefs are what we make them to be. It's sad how so many kids think that eggs and meat really do just come from the grocery store and have no awareness that an animal gave his life for that. It's actually shocking.
And it saddens me how the average American child doesn't get to eat fresh fruits and veggies and organically grown meats and eggs. We as parents need to be more aware of what we are putting in our child's bellies and heads and educate ourselves so we can in turn educate our children.
I'm so grateful for this multi-cultural experience Liliana is getting to have. She's becoming so cultured!!