Friday, 4 March 2016

Peppa Pig and Sausages


A couple of weeks ago on #AnimalTales Emma posted a very thought provoking post about whether petting farms are in fact dumming down farming.  Now I am a farmer's daughter.  I was brought up knowing where the eggs and the meat on my plate came from.  I have seen birth and death first hand and I was also brought up with a healthy dose of James Herriot vet programmes where the young vet was always in at the deep end and the actor who played him really did have his hand up that cow/sheep's vagina.  I too have done the same in order to get a stuck lamb out so I think it is safe to say I understand the work that is involved getting meat to your plate. However, in today's world, many people are far removed from the realities of farming: their meat arrives all cut up and bearing no resemblance to the animal it came from and with no indication of the hard work the farmer undertook to get it there.  In Emma's post a lady was horrified when she saw a video about true life sheep farming (Addicted to sheep) as I suppose her view of farms had been dummed down by the more sanitised petting farms where the real working side of things is kept hidden away.

Which brings me to Peppa Pig ... well not just Peppa, to be fair, but any adorable farm animal from a popular children's TV show or book.  You see Peppa Pig and friends are not real farm animals.  They often walk on 2 feet, talk, wear clothes etc and in doing so this is the image children develop as to what farm animals are really like.  And parents are happy to feed into this myth with many not prepared to tell their children the truth - that the sausage on their dinner plate is made from pork which come from pigs.  I have heard of a mother told her children that the pigs no longer in the field had "gone on holiday" when in fact they have gone to the abattoir and perhaps even worse that pigs "lay sausages".  REALLY?


In my experience children are actually very good at accepting the truth if it is told to them sympathetically.  However if they are lied to then that truth is much harder to accept when they do eventually realise it. And realise it they will, however much parents try to hide it.  Back in the UK, I worked with school children doing environmental projects and if I had a spare few minutes at the end of a session I had a short activity on food chains which I started asking what the children ate for dinner the night before.  One girl put up her hand and told me she'd eaten sausages.  "Ah, so that would be pork then," I said, "which of course comes from a pig".  Well, if you could have seen that girl's face.  She had no idea. Oh and she wasn't particularly young either, as this was a class of 9/10 year olds.


So my point is this: are the likes of Peppa Pig, who no child would ever consider eating, leading parents to lie to children and distancing children from the realities of farming?  I am not saying for one moment that every child should be out on the farm delivering young animals (although some do and if you Google "3 year old lambing" you'll see a video of a 3 year old girl doing just that) but I do think children should be told the truth and certainly not told lies about where their food comes from. I also believe that if they understand the true workings of a farm they will be more likely to buy meat that has been ethically-produced, rather than factory-farmed.  Peppa Pig is not real.  Pigs are however real and in order that good pig welfare is to be encouraged people need to know the ins and outs of farming, how animals are cared for and what constitutes good farm welfare.  Without this knowledge it is all too easy to disassociate the meat of your plate from the farm animal and so for too many people it is not a problem eating meat produced in the horrendous conditions of many factory farms.

OK, I would not expect to find Peppa Pig sausages on the shelves of your local supermarket any time soon but I do feel children and adults need to be a lot more aware of where their food comes from and appreciate the hard work of the farmers who make those sausage dinners possible. 




What do you think about this? Is Peppa to blame for a generation of children who do not realise that sausages come from pigs and who are so far removed from the process of getting that sausage to their plate that they will happily eat something produced in horrible conditions because out of sight is out of mind?


ethannevelyn

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26 comments :

  1. Interesting points Rosie and the all pervasiveness of cartoon characters nowadays may well have a lot to do with this situation but the anthropomorphising (?) of animals isn't new, think of Beatrix Potter for a start. I guess what is new is access to 24 hour media and the fact that kids are surrounded all the time by these "animals". I think though that one of the biggest reasons kids don't know where their meat comes from is the ridiculous way they are cushioned from anything unpleasant nowadays; everyone's a winner, no risk, children always right, PC pantomimes where everyone has a part, etc, etc. I could go on. I do think this is more extreme in UK and France has a better attitude to child-rearing. No they are not always right, adults nearly always do know better and life can be tough and isn't fair. All that surely prepares a child better for the realities of life. I'm not sure I'm making much sense as I'm rushing to get this written before going to pick up my kid from school (before we go and deliver a piglet!!!) Sorry, I'm getting silly now!

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    1. I think when Beatrix Potter starting dressing up animals though, the vast majority of children still knew where their meat came from - they would have seen rabbits hanging up outside the local butcher's shop. Now all that is hidden from our children and the connections are not made. And as for cotton woolling our children, just don't get me started on that one! That Matt cartoon you sent me just summed it all up perfectly.

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    2. like French children still do, the things you see hanging up even in our supermarket butcher (let alone butcher butcher) leave no doubt about where your meat comes from! I think it's a combination of everything really...

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    3. I always smile when I see rabbit on the school menu here in France - that just wouldn't happen in the UK.

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  2. Such a thought provoking piece and love your Peppa mock-up...I suspect if we did make more kids aware of where their food comes from (and the conditions they live in) we'd have a lot more vegetarians today... #FabFridayPost

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    1. I think if you are open with kids from an early age they are very accepting of what they are eating but I do think if more people really knew about factory farming they might turn veggie. I would hope though, that they might turn to eating ethically produced meat if they were to continue eating meat.

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  3. Of course not! Peppa should not be blame for this. I tells my children where their food come from and we do local farm visit regularly. Ethan even got to be the first one who bottle feed a new lamb. If one day, they decided to be vegetarians then it is really up to them - I can't stop that. But it is important that they know the actuality of it all, and even better how they are farm ethically. Thank you very much for linking up with us. It is an important topic. #FabFridayPost

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    1. Yes, it is vital we tell our children the truth so they can make up their own minds - but too many people don't.

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  4. I reckon this would get my son to eat them! I remember when Babe came out and several of my friends became vegetarian and I was so bemused that it took a talking pig for them to make the connection.

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    1. It is quite eye-opening when you realise how many people have not made the connection and I fear it is getting worse.

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  5. When my nephew's firstborn was a baby, he would correct me when I would be feeding the baby a piece of chicken, etc and tell me that they called it "meat" and did not want the baby to associate chickens, cows, etc with the learning games they were playing (ie. "What does the chicken say?" "cluck-cluck." "What does the cow say?" "Moooo." And etc.) I thought "This is bunk! He'll have to learn sooner or later where "meat" comes from. Why make it possibly more traumatic?" And on another tangent, why should anyone think that animals are ONLY here for our purposes?

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  6. My nine year old howled with laughter when she caught sight of those Peppa sausages. :)
    Our lazy, convenient lifestyles certainly mean children have lost the connection of where their food comes from. We have a veg patch and chickens, and have always been very matter of fact about where our food comes from. Our friends also have a farm which we visit regularly - each time a boy is born on the farm the kids are fully aware that it won't get named and why. If we eat meat I think it's important our children respect where it comes from, not protected from the harsh reality.
    Ironically the farming friend was a lifelong vegetarian until she hooked up with the rare breeds farmer...attitudes can soon be changed. ;)

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    1. I used to be vegetarian, not because I didn't like the idea of eating meat but because it made me feel bloated. However once I started to eat organic and free-range meat I was fine. Now virtually all the meat I eat is our own and I am fine with that. As for naming our animals is an interesting subject that I will be talking about in another blog post soon ...

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  7. I have no idea, I'm dreading this question from my two year old. I don't want to lie to her, but I don't want to upset her either... It's a bit heavy for a two year old peppa fan. I have no idea!

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    1. Small amounts of truth as and when the moment is right. She may ask you or a situation may arise that allows you to broach the subject. However it happens though, I think you'll find she will be more accepting than if you lie to her or avoid the subject until she is much older.

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  8. Hi Rosie, children shouldn't be 'protected' from where meat comes fro, that's just plain daft. We are designed to be meat eaters and there is nothing wrong with children being taught what meat come from where.

    Not only should children know where their meat is coming from they should also be made aware of the right and wrong conditions that the animals reared for slaughter should be bought up in. My Auntie kept a selection of animals, some as pets and some for the table and all animals were treated equally (except the animals for slaughter were never given a name). As children we visited her and when an animal was missing we were fully aware that we'd probably just had it for dinner.

    Children have a wonderful ability to absorb the facts, that doesn't mean that at the age of three they need to know all the details, but it does mean that they probably won't lose too much sleep knowing that sausage on their plate came from a pig or a cow.

    xx

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    1. I totally agree ... and the subject of naming farm animals is another blog post I have brewing in my head. Thank you for commenting and tweeting, Debs, it is much appreciated.

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  9. I do agree that children should know where their food comes from. The reason I actually clicked on your post was because when I saw the title, it reminded me of an incident last year. We'd taken our daughter to the farm and there was a little cafe on site. You could smell the cooking bacon and one of the dads there turned to his little boy and said 'They're cooking Peppa Pig'. The kid looked shocked then got quite upset.
    Obviously I wouldn't have phrased it quite like that, but it did make me wonder what the appropriate age is to bring up the subject. This little boy was only about two or three at the most and as you say, most children are very accepting - but I would worry my daughter would have the same reaction (although obviously I wouldn't word it the same way as the guy at the farm!).
    #FabFridayPost

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    1. There certainly is a way and a place to broach the subject and I think the first thing is to help children realise the difference between Peppa and real pigs! Thank you for commenting, it is much appreciated.

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  10. My goodness. I'd not thought of the angle of petting farms and TV dumming down children's perspective before. Not an issue for us as we live opposite a farm, which supplies us with meat. My children know that the cute lamb we chat to over the fence, may end up in our freezer. They have always known that, so no surprise.

    Connecting to the natural world is a must. Otherwise a burger in a bun or a cellophoned headless chicken is just nameless. I remember reading a book where the character would not eat fish unless he could see its eyes. Makes sense.

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    1. And because your children learnt young where their meat came from I am sure they were completely accepting of that - it is when we lie to or hide the facts from children in the mistaken belief that they will be upset that the problems start.

      In France, when you buy a whole chicken from a butcher or off the meat counter in a supermarket it comes with its head.

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  11. Interesting post Rosie, I'm not sure it's Peppa and her ilk per se but there is a complete disconnect for too many people about where their food comes from. I'm reminded of the Jamie Oliver programmes where the kids in a school (up the road from me incidentally) weren't able to identify vegetables. And it's a very sad state of affairs. I think this partly stems from an indifference to food, the ready meals and dare I say it the rise of the supermarkets. Now I'm a child of the 70s and have been dished up vespa curries and pot noodles but I know that they're not the only things to live on, and even though I've lived in London all my life I know where food comes from. I definitely haven't been at the messy end for which I'm thankful for, but it's nature right, and a living for a lot of people (although less than before).

    I also think this disconnect is due to laziness and having an easy life and glossing over the facts. My niece was a toddler during the BSE crisis and you think they don't pick up on this, but when she was playing with her toy farm we often found the animals with their legs in the air just like she'd seen on the TV. Explaining that the animals were sick was accepted as fact and thankfully she stopped that particular game, but it does just go to show doesn't it?

    Sorry that was a bit of an essay - but thanks so much for linking up to #pocolo :)

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  12. Blimey — I've never thought of petting farms as 'dumming down'? Rather the opposite — they're a great way for kids to get close to animals and learn about them aren't they? Great post — and I totally agree. Luckily we have chickens and our boys know that the ones in the garden are the same as the ones on their plate so *hopefully*, as they get older, they'll learn to appreciate where the meat they're eating comes from.

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  13. Oops — forgot to say — I'm coming over from #PoCoLo

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  14. My first job was aged 7 delivering milk in our village in Yorkshire, it was delivered with a shire horse and cart, i used to ride on the cart and drop the milk off at houses with the adults, at the end of the delivery i was allowed to drink the fresh milk straight from the cows, i then helped collected the eggs and box them up for the farm shop. Despite being involved with this I was never exposed to how the fresh meat ended up in the farm shop and when we saw the cattle/sheep/pig holidays my parents always told me they were going on holiday to the sea side, whether I asked or not, I just ate what was put on my plate and never questioned it, but I knew sausages came from pigs, burgers from cows etc, etc.
    Our children have grown up differently as my husband works in the food industry. We took our then 4 year old niece to a farm, she wanted to see the pigs, her words, not mine 'I want to see real piggies, not silly Peppa Pig ones. I just think with all things in life, we tell our children the truth when they ask.

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