I had a very interesting discussion the other night with my husband about why we had kids. I honestly never thought I’d ever want kids when I was a summer fun leader back in college. I thought they were dirty, gross, and to some degree, bratty. Why would I ever want that in my life?
I can honestly say that I totally feel differently now that I’m a mother to three kids. None of them were planned either. I didn’t expect to have them, they just happened when I least expected it. I do feel blessed that my stubbornness to not want them in my 20’s changed in me. My children have given me new vision for what life is really about.
The actions we take now and the lessons we teach them all shape our future world. I my kids aren’t here just for me to love and develop a bond with. It’s so much more than that. They are my hopes and joys. They are my chance to instill important lessons I learned as kid into them so that they can continue the legacy of our family. My dad always told me that no matter what I did, I had to make the world better in some form or fashion.
The anti-everything people are right in some ways with preserving our past and malama the keiki. They are dead wrong with the way they do it however. We must use education to make this next generation better than the one before. This is the expectation that my dad held for me and my siblings. It’s the same expectation I hold for my own kids.
I believe that every child has the potential to be a contributor to making the world a better place. The only way we can achieve that is through education to inspire our kids to go over and beyond what’s expected. After the disturbing anti-GMO excerpts found daughter’s textbook, I decided to contact the teacher and the principal about it. I was not the only person to see that the material presented was not evidence based. I was invited to speak to the kids today.
I took the teacher up on the offer and went in today to talk about the issue. My goal was to give them tools that will help them think critically about anything that pops into their radars. If I could give this tool, it would serve as a lifelong lesson in how to vet eivedence and protect them from getting sucked into the latest scheme. These kids learned about the basics of how Google works and how to pick correct terms to see what is evidence based.
I then proceeded to talk about why so many of us don’t farm. The kids threw out numbers like 50% of folks farm to 30%. Only one kid gave me the correct percentage of less than 2% farm. I told them the story about how my grandfather farmed with a water buffalo and how my dad farms. I added the analogy about how our phones used to be all corded and now are connected via satellite. Technology has changed around us and the same applies to how we grow food.
I touched upon various topics like basic genetics, plant breeding, how science works, and current events on various crops that may affect them like oranges and chocolate. We even talked about how and why seeds are grown here in Hawaii and how it comes back to us in the form of various proteins like beef, chicken, and pork.
I gave them lots of time to ask questions and realized that the problem isn’t only coming from the fact that we are so farm removed from agriculture but also that we don’t know the basics about our foods, textiles, and other products. They do not realize how nearly every aspect of our lives are touched by a farmer.
I reminded them about how lucky we are to have so many modern conveniences that because of it, we should be responsible for sharing good information that can help others. I asked them if they have gone without food or water or had no shelter over their heads. None had ever experienced this. These kids could never understand what it’s like to suffer. If we have to power to alleviate suffering, we should do that for others as we are global citizens.
I briefly spoke about school gardens and how it’s good to know how to grow plants. However, a garden can’t feed the masses 365 days a year 3 meals a day or clothe them or provide other useful products for them. That’s the reality that our keiki just can’t comprehend. They can’t even comprehend what it’s like to go hungry day after day either.
I took my two friends along, Frank N. Foods and Lanakila Anuenue Papaya to tell the story of agriculture to these kids. Even though I did the teaching, I got the most important lesson of all. The people who know and love agriculture must tell their stories not only to adults but to our future consumers, the children. If we miss them, we will lose a generation of young minds, who can continue our legacies to leave their mark in the world to make it better?
Our kids deserve to remain fascinated by the world around them, not fearful of what they don’t understand.