A stupid rule: Don't play with your food
It’s one of the rules I had been carrying throughout my life back from my childhood. It flashed into my mind the other day as I have a newborn that plays with food. I’ve never questioned the meaning of this mantra repeated by so many people. I accepted it as a right thing do. Actually I now find it quite stupid from both ethical and ecological perspective.
One might say food should be appriciated and therefore it’s not a toy. Playing with food can be viewed as disrespectful to people who have limited access to food. Interestingly though, the fact that I stop playing with food doesn’t let starving people have access to more food. If I stop making playdough with flour-salt-water, and purchase a manifactured one, how’s that gonna help anyone get food on their table? Suppose I only owned food. To buy toys then, I need money. The exact same thing that the starving person didn’t have in the first place.
From the ecological point of view, not playing with the food is even worse. I’d argue that playing with food is the best way to go. What could be a better alternative? A wooden toy? Need to chop trees. A metal one? Quite energy intense to produce it. Maybe a plastic toy? Besides it’s based on a declining fussil fuel economy, I’d prefer that my child chews natural materials. What is the ecological footprint of pulling out a carrot? It’s a perfect toy. In fact, it can be even eaten. Isn’t that amazing? If it gets damaged, you can simply decompose it.
Food is natural toy for children. It happens that it’s the key concept behind baby-led weaning as well. It’s beautiful to observe a little being exploring the various shapes, textures, smells and tastes through food. How can you develop more appreciation to food than through this learning process?