New children’s book shows readers where their food comes from | TSLN.com

New children’s book shows readers where their food comes from

Opening up the pages of Diana Prichard's children's book entitled, "The Cow In Patrick O'Shanahan's Kitchen," readers might be surprised to learn milk comes from cows, eggs come from chickens, and bacon comes from pigs.

Prichard is a hog farmer from Michigan and freelance writer, photographer and professional speaker. Prichard dives right in with this children's book, clarifying the big misconception that many consumers have – food comes from a farm, not a grocery store.

"I think we're seeing the effects of kids not knowing where their food comes from right now; in an entire generation of adults who grew up, formed preconceived notions and developed deeply-seeded opinions about food and farming with absolutely no frame of reference or basis of knowledge," said Prichard. "It's something that gives corporations wide open opportunities to exploit consumers' fears, and something that puts the future of ag and food in danger."

Prichard's story, illustrated by Devlin Knopf and published by Little Pickle Press in November 2013, goes into the home of Patrick O'Shanahan as his family makes breakfast on a Saturday morning. Suddenly, a cow shows up in the kitchen, and Patrick realizes he must milk the cow in order to have milk for breakfast. Chickens show up next, and he must gather their eggs. He needs syrup for his pancakes and discovers that syrup doesn't come from the refrigerator, but from a tree outside. And, if he wants bacon, well, that comes from a pig.

"I think youth is where we really have to be proactive," she said, of sharing the farm-to-fork story. "With any luck I can hand off not just a farm to my kids, but also a generation of their peers who are informed enough to help them create a country in which that farm can continue to grow and flourish. That's my ultimate goal."

In her book, Pirchard hopes to explain the origin of food to children of all ages; help kids appreciate regional agricultural and farmers' markets; show families how they can navigate an increasingly complex food system; and be more transparent as a farmer.

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"I'm hoping the book sparks interest and curiosity; that it spurs kids and their families to be proactive about understanding where food comes from," she added. "There are plenty of companies and organizations that specialize in bringing messages about farms and farmers to consumers, but not many that do so without spin and bias. I want people to realize that, while there may not be farms and ranches popping up magically in their kitchen, they can reach out and get more information directly from farms and farm organizations.

Of course, when tackling a tough subject of the circle of life with children, negative feedback comes with the territory. After all, who wants to see that cute pig turn into crispy bacon? It's a subject that Prichard faced head-on and do so with a flair that will make kids laugh, not cringe.

"I get occasional hate mail, mostly from vegans," she admitted. "Coming from a writing background, and having written fairly extensively about agriculture and food politics in the past, I just chalk it up to part of the job. I think the best policy is always the high road; I don't draw attention to them and don't feel the need to make a scene out of every negative comment or email. Like children, if their behavior is ignored it generally ceases pretty quickly."

Prichard blogs at RighteousBacon and can be found on Twitter at @diana_prichard. "The Cow in Patrick O'Shanahan's Kitchen" is available at http://www.amazon.com, http://www.barnesandnoble.com, and bookstores nationwide.