When I was 7 or 8 years old, my favorite reading material included Ranger Rick magazines, comic books and some of my mom’s Hardy Boys books — pretty innocent stuff. Today, though, young children can develop a complete aversion to eating meat just from reading picture books. The pro-vegan children’s books are out there, and they pull no punches in depicting the evils of eating meat.

I’ve seen them at my local Whole Foods store. Flip through the pages, and you’ll see sketches of the most miserable animals you’ve ever seen in your life. Chickens, cows and hogs are kept in small cages in dark, foreboding places… except for the ones that live on farms and are never used for food. They’re free to play all day long.

Try explaining to child in first or second grade about difficult concepts like bias or agendas. The vivid images in those books, misleading though they are, are pretty clear in what they want children to think. Eating animals is a bad thing, and the people who raise them on farms don’t care about them.

I’ve encouraged my children to ask questions, and I’ve given them the food chain talk in the past about where their hamburgers or chicken nuggets come from as honestly as I can. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t — one of my daughters loves steak but won’t touch lamb. It’s hard, though, to compete against something so one-sided.

A new children’s book takes a different approach to telling children where their food comes from, and I quite like it. "The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen" was written by Diana Prichard, a writer and hog farmer from Michigan. While the book doesn’t get into the meat aspect, she does explain how all the ingredients for young Patrick’s breakfast came to be. The milk and eggs for French toast come from animals that suddenly show up in Patrick’s kitchen. To get syrup, a forest appears, and Patrick has to tap one of the maple trees.

Most children are so far removed from the production side of the food chain, it’s easy to mislead them with some frightening pictures and talk about the evil farmers who imprison them. I’m glad that Diana Prichard has decided to provide a little counterbalance with something that could lead to a favorable discussion on agriculture and farmers. If you’d like a copy of the book, it is available through Amazon.com or www.littlepicklepress.com.


New for 2014: Independent Processor of the Year

Independent Processor is launching a new contest for 2014 — The Independent Processor of the Year. In the seven years that this magazine has been around, I have written about all manner of opportunities and advantages that smaller companies have, and now we are looking for a company that best epitomizes what it means to be a successful and thriving small business— a company that is having strong growth, developing intriguing new products, excelling with community and employee relations and focusing on sustainability. If you would like to nominate your company to be considered for this award, please contact me at gazdziaks@bnpmedia.com or call (770) 777-0058.