Monday, November 16, 2009


Thanksgiving approaches – a time to celebrate harvest, a bounty of Earth, a gift of food. I visit blogs of my virtual friends who prepare their happy American homes for this traditional holiday, and I look at the crafts made with food. It doesn’t sit well with me. I didn’t experience hunger, but my father and my husband’s parents were children of WWII (ironically, on the opposite sides). They knew evacuation, being torn from their homes, not knowing where the next meal comes from, and they knew hunger. When I was young, I read a book that was based on a diary of a 10 year old girl Tanya who happened to be in Leningrad (now St Petersburg) when fascists blocked all the roads into the city and bombed food storage facilities in the city. The siege lasted for more than a year, and in the meantime almost a million civillians died of hunger. She described in her diary the situation in the city, burning furniture and books for warmth and slow death of everyone in her family. The last one to die was her mom. Tanya was one of the children air-lifted out, but her body was too far gone, and she didn’t survive. The sad part is that even today every minute someone in the world dies of hunger while we are happily playing in our sensory bins and making rainbows out of fruit loops. I am not saying that I can solve the world hunger, but at least I can teach my daughter that food is precious, and not to be used in crafts. Maybe she will not be as advanced in her fine motor skills and not as creative, but it’s OK with me. I just want her to know that food is a terrible thing to waste.


Christy said...

I understand what you are saying but I am okay with using food in crafts. We are privileged, we have many things that other people in the world do not, so how can we stop at food? Why use flour to make play dough? Why buy more than we need? Why live in homes with more space than necessary? Why own more than one car? Do you understand my point? I say be grateful for all that we have and try to understand that there are people in the world who are not as fortunate. Do something for those less fortunate and thank God for all that we are blessed with, at least that is the way I live my life.

whisperingwhispers said...

I agree with you, and that is probably why we have a hard time doing crafts and such with food.

I've never been without food, but I do know what it is like to lose everything one has an experienced burned in my memory forever!

I've heard the stories of how my parents were lucky to have a flour and water bisquit (dry and hard as a rock) in their school lunch.

As with my children and as with Selena I truly want them to know we do not need to be wasteful. Our world is changing FAST around us and we are not the strong country we use to be, it is time that we learn from history and realize hunger hits home too.

Nicole {tired, need sleep} said...

I see pasta and rice in the sensory bin or used in crafts as an inexpensive way to give my child a learning experience. I don't see it, in that light, as wasteful. Like Christy said, where do we stop if we are going to compare everything we have or do with what other countries have? That said, we do talk about children who have less than we do, children who have nothing. AND we give to them through donations and volunteer work. We don't just play with food and go lah-di-dah through our days never thinking of those less fortunate. Thinking of them, giving to them, and *doing* for them is a very important part of our life. I don't feel guilty about it at all and I know there are many people who talk about those less fortunate but never act on it. We are very thankful for our food, this is why we say grace at every meal, we are extremely thankful for our food and thankful too that we live in a country of such abundance and opportunity.

-:¦:-In His Grip -:¦:- Loni said...

Thank you for sharing from your heart! Whether we do or do not use food as crafts is beyond the point. We should use this time of year, if not all times of the year, as an opportunity to help those who are in need, and be thankful for all we have been blessed with. Even if we don't have much to share, let us gladfully share that which we have. Let us give thanks with outstretched arms!


Ticia said...

You do like to open cans of worms don't you? I too struggle with the making food into craft items, because I do sometimes see it as waste. But, by the same token the enormous quantities of crafts and such my kids make are likely destined to be in the trash as well.
So, I guess in the end it'll be a balancing act. Finding what works for our family.
Of course, as soon as I say I don't like food crafts, I can think of a few I"ve done. Ahhhh..... hypocrisy.

Our Little Family said...

This is an interesting post (and I always love to read your writing). I know that we DO use food, and agree with much of what Christy and Nicole have said. What's funny is that I'm incredibly cheap and LOVE to use food that we wouldn't eat in fun ways. My husband recently ran in a 10K and got bags and bags of rice (the company was a sponsor). I LOVED that I was able to use it in a rainbow activity we made (I dyed it). Or, Maddie got a party bag at a birthday celebration that was filled with Lifesaver Gummies. We used those on dot stamp pages. Get my point? It's like my own recycling program. Ha!

But yes, I think it's a great time of year to just reflect upon all of our blessings and teach our kiddos to be grateful and thankful for what we have.

Jamie said...

Thank you for this thought-provoking post. I agree with you; I want my daughter to learn that food is not something to waste. Recently, however, I dropped some dried pasta on the floor, and rather than throw it out, I had my daughter glue it onto some paper! Something else to consider...while I wouldn't want my 3-year-old daughter to see the sad image on your blog post today, I think young children can start learning about this important issue. Recently, I took my daughter to the grocery store and bought a few bags of groceries and then immediately delivered them to a food bank. We talked about how lucky we are to have enough food, and how important it is to help others.

Adriana said...

This post is exactly why I like to read your blog. You are open and honest about your opinions and I appreciate and respect that. I, however, disagree with you this time. I decided to comment since I have done several crafts regarding food (leftover candy) recently. I personally try to use food (and other crafting material) that is destined for the trash can. For example, we painted with gourds last weekend because they were old and headed for the compost pile. I feel worse about the leftovers that never got eaten and I had to throw out last night. I think that is wonderful that you are teaching your daughter to not be wasteful and mindful that people in the world are starving. I have not had that discussion with my son and I think that this time of year is a great time to count our blessing, be thankful for what we have, and help others less fortunate.

The girl who painted trees said...

Thank you for this heartfelt post.

I agree with Adriana about trying to use food destined for the trash can. For my apple prints, I used an apple that was old. For the corn printing, we used corn that wasn't yet ripe, but had already been picked. For the corn collage, I used popping corn that had been in my mom's pantry for a looooong time. It wouldn't pop anymore. Our jack o lantern squash was stored in the fridge at night and only left out two days before it became muffins and soup.
I try to use food that would be thrown out anyway. The only place where that isn't the case is a yogurt container of each of noodles and flour and beans for crafts or sensory and the rice pit. My husband and I debated a long time over the rice pit because he feels as you do. When I want to do a craft with rice, I use the rice pit rice and not new rice. I think food crafts should be done in moderation. We teach Bear to be resourceful and reuse and we don't go buy tons of crafting supplies or stickers to fit every theme etc. We teach her to pray for and give to people who have less than we do and we give thanks at every meal and before going to bed.

Elise said...

I agree with a lot of what Nicole said. Teaching about the value of something means that our actions will reflect and guide our opinion.

We often explain to our daughter the inequalities that exist and that not everyone has access to the same things that we do (obviously at her level). We also brainstorm ways that we can help those less fortunate.

I was catching up on your previous posts and was impressed with Papa's amazing dollhouse. This would provide countless hours of fun and creative play.

You must be bursting with pride about Anna's first official progress report. Sounds like her teachers could not be more thrilled with her outstanding progress. How wonderful to receive such a glowing first report.

Infant Bibliophile said...

This was such an interesting post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I opened your post and left it for awhile, because I was equally interested in reading what others had to say. We haven't done many food-related crafts that we don't eat afterward (other than one rice sensory bin, but I couldn't bring myself to fill it very much - not sure if I was concerned about wasting food or just cheap). Food allergies have a bit to do with that too though... Rice pasta is too expensive to be glueing it onto photo frames or stringing on necklaces very often. ;) And I cringe when we're in an art class and I realize there are food supplies being used that my son is allergic to. Thanks again for the unique perspective.