Where does the food we eat come from? The question may seem trivial, but when asked to the right people, it can yield interesting answers. Take this example this studyPosted in Journal of Environmental Psychology It was conducted on a sample of American children between the ages of 4 and 7 years: they were asked to indicate the source of the food they ate, and what the source of a series of foods they consumed each day – mainly meat and surroundings.
Disaster! The answers will surprise you, and not necessarily positively: a large percentage of respondents, for example, answered that Bacon comes from plants. It’s a disastrous situation, but it may also mask unexpected positive repercussions.
The study included a total of 176 children (47% of whom were girls) living in the southeastern United States. The sample was very diverse, including children who grew up in families living below the poverty line and eligible for US government food aid programs. Children are introduced to two very simple exercises. In the first, they were presented with a list of foods (including cheese, french fries, bacon, shrimp, and eggs) and asked to indicate whether they were of animal or vegetable origin; The second instead asks the children to indicate whether certain animals and plants are edible.
Is it possible to eat? At first glance, the results were shocking: 44% of children referred to cheese as a vegetable food, 41% said it was about bacon and 40% said it was about sausage. In contrast, 47% of participants claimed that the chips were of animal origin. There are also issues with edibility: 77% of children think cows are inedible, and 73% say so about pigs.
According to the study authors, the results reveal an important opportunity. The children’s answers, in fact, indicate an ignorance not innate, but driven by what they were told (or not told) by their parents: worried they would be bothered too much by stories of slaughter and suffering, they would rather fluctuations of words not clarify the nature of certain foods and cause confusion.
Let’s take advantage of it! The hypothesis is that if children are taught about this at an early age, they can reduce their meat consumption: according to the study authors, many would already, if only they knew that what they eat is of animal origin. Informing young people early on what they are eating can help create new generations of citizens who eat less meat and prefer a plant-based diet – and the transition of food is one of the many important steps we must take if we are to try to save the universe.
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