After saying grace before meals, my younger son looked at the food on the table and asked me. "Ma, pwede ako mag-hotdog sandwich?" (I cooked steak, served with the usual boiled potatoes and boiled vegetables, which is the way my husband like his dinner most.)
I quipped," Anak, the best way to show God your appreciation for the food that He gives us is to eat what's on the table and avoid as much as possible wasting anything."
Quite reluctantly, he acquiesced, then, not looking directly into my eyes and with furrowed brows and puzzled look, he asked, "Ma, panong nanggaling ke God yung food? Di ba binili mo yung iba sa Hannaford, tapos yung iba sa garden mo galing? Tapos galing ke Grandma yung beef tsaka eggs natin, tapos yung milk galing ke Aunt Stacey?"
Is this scenario familiar to you? How do you approach it? How do you answer your child's questions?
Here's how I did it. I looked at it as another opportunity to teach my children about how the earth sustains us humans. What I told them was something like the stream of conversation presented below (and I have been repeatedly instilling the lessons in them)...
Do you believe that God created the Universe?
Do you know that the sun and the earth and the other planets are in the Universe?
Hindi ba, kaya tayo kumakain, para me energy kayo pag naglalaro, tumatakbo, nagba-bike, mag-pile ng wood, etc. etc.?
Di ba pag di ka nakakain ng matagal, nanghihina ka, nauubos ang energy mo?
Ganito kasi. Sa planet earth, the energy that we get ultimately comes from the sun, which is in the Universe that God made. But we can't go out on a sunny day and expose ourselves for a long time to try to get energy from the sun directly. That is not possible and will just create cancer of our skin. We have to get the energy indirectly. Here's how we get that energy.
Plants have the capacity to convert the sun's energy into a form usable to humans (and other animals). Some of that energy is stored in fruits (cucumbers, tomatoes, berries, apples, squash, zucchini), flowers (cauliflower, broccoli, squash), a bit in the leaves (pepper, spinach), some in their roots (like camote, potato, carrots, beets). Some plants we can't eat (grass, etc.) can be eaten by cows, goats, chickens, pork, deer, etc. which we can eat.
You see how the cows eat the grass and some other plants...
So we humans eat the stored energy in the plants' fruits and flowers and stems and roots,
Or we humans (and other animals in the upper level of the food chain) eat the animals that eat plants, like the cows that we call beef when it ends up on the dining table.
So if you want to make the same approach to your kids, please do so, and help them become more aware of how our very existence is sustained by the earth.
Here are some links about the
Food Chain and Food Webs (features an interactive food-web making that is printable)
Chain Reaction (What will happen if a living thing is removed in a food chain? Have fun with your kids trying this one.)
These will also help teach your children to respect other forms of life, because in so doing, we are preserving our very own species.
Isiningit ko po itong post na ito in between canning-related posts, despite this being a non-kitchen and a non-recipe post. I just felt the need to share this with mothers like me.