The most common question coming out of children's mouths is "why?" And, it's a logical question. If no one ever asked why, we really wouldn't know very much. Why is a question I often wonder if not enough adults ask, especially when it comes to what's in the food we eat. It's important to know what fuels our energy and brains. So, I love it when books incorporate how food makes it to our tables -- before cargo-loads, boxes, and plastic get involved.
How Did that Get in my Lunchbox? The Story of Food (ages 4-12), by Chris Butterworth, is a wonderful non-fiction book for young readers that emphasizes food does not grow in stores, contrary to what some urban school children perceive. Butterworth takes you through the process of how bread is mixed, where apples are picked, how cheese is made, and so much more! There are undertones of appreciation for food and the people who produce it, as well as what kinds of foods are better for you. The most common comment customers give this award winning book is "beautiful" and "informative" and "exquisite."
Minette's Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat (ages 3-8), by Susanna Reich, beautifully illustrated and completely cat! Before Minette comes along, it is clear that Julia's life revolves around food. But no matter what amazing meals and smells are cooking up around Julia's apartment, this cat only prefers mice and birds. So, what does this book have to do with where food comes from? I mean, yes, Julia Child was a brilliant chef, but her food came from the markets. But Minette? She hunted. And that's how food is often acquired. Gruesome? To many, yes. But it is a fact of life just as hunting -- and foraging for berries and honey -- is in Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series (ages 6-12), Elizabeth George Speare's The Sign of the Beaver (ages 8-12) and Gary Paulsen's Hatchet (ages 10-14). For one to live, something else must die.
I don't know if it's because we are situated in New England or what, but there are quite a few books that illustrate what goes into pancakes and how maple syrup is extracted from trees. Tomie DePoala's Pancakes for Breakfast (ages 3-7) and Tyler Florence's Tyler Makes Pancakes (ages 4-7) both take a journey to get the eggs from the hen, the milk and butter from cows, and the maple syrup from the maple farm. All is mixed and fried up, delivering smiles all around. (Kate Messner's Sugar and Ice is a great read for older readers -- 10-14 -- that partially takes place on a running maple syrup farm.)
Knowing what goes into your food and all of the work that it went through makes you appreciate it so much more!