Image via: pascalk on Flickr.com
This last week the Sacramento Bee featured an article about a "mobile classroom" idea where a dairy cow is brought into elementary school classrooms. School children can pet the cows and learn about where their milk comes from. Sounds like a great idea to teach children at a young age where their food in general comes from. Some of the article readers didn't this so.At first, this sounds like a good idea. Who doesn't like a dairy cow with their long, fuzzy ears and their soft, doe eyes? What a great idea to let city kids pet an actual dairy cow. In fact, the Dairy Council of California includes both a dairy cow and calf as part of the tour. Baby animals? Now who can say no to that.
Several article readers highlighted those very points, stating,
"This is one of the best school assemblies ever. City kids are so clueless about farming. They freak when they find out the cow's milk is warm. Wish they could make more visits."
Several of the article readers felt that these mobile classrooms are nothing less than brainwashing and manipulation by the dairy industry to teach young children that they have to drink lots of milk (support the dairy industry) while failing to mention the real story behind dairy farming. After reading, Eating Animals just last month, I too had a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. Sure, the kids get to pet a dairy cow and learn about milk production, but no one is going to tell young children about how this cow (and all of her friends) aren't allowed out of their cage to roam free, how they are pumped full of hormones so they produce milk at an unnaturally high rate, and how they live an often sad and very painful life.
Maybe it's too early for young children, but should there also be an assembly that balances this one out - talking about the importance of vegetarianism both for health and for the planet? Or at least talk about how there are alternatives to meat and dairy that provide many of the same benefits? Maybe don't give them a gross-out video, but at least provide options and alternatives. Cow or not, is your school providing healthy alternatives in the cafeteria and talking about the importance of what kids put in their bodies? Maybe this is one way for you to get involved and start the conversation. With many schools these days concerned over lunches and working to provide fresh cooked meals using fresh fruits and vegetables, is it ever too early to talk healthy eating?:Sacramento Bee
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