Gracie, a 2019 National Gold Award Girl Scout, tells us how she’s feeding young minds with farm-to-table education.
When I was in kindergarten, right before I started Girl Scouts, my parents got me involved with my first-ever science experiment. They went around town picking up meals from almost all the big fast food places—but these weren’t for us to eat. Instead, we kept them to look at and see how long it would take for them to go bad.
Year after year we’d check on them, and the gross thing is that they never actually started to look . . . . gross. The meat didn’t smell bad. The fries didn’t mold. I mean, think about how many chemicals must be in that stuff? Natural food breaks down—usually pretty quickly. These fast food meals weren’t doing that.
Around the same time, my family started raising chickens, and I learned a ton about farm-to-table living. It’s basically the opposite of fast food—raising chickens or other animals and growing fruits and vegetables yourself, or getting food straight from farmers who do that without chemicals or processing. It does require thought, care, and planning, but it’s also more rewarding. The food honestly tastes better and is so much better in terms of keeping you healthy. But none of this was being taught in school.
So when it came time to plan the focus of my Girl Scout Gold Award, I stuck with what I knew and cared about most—chickens! It might sound funny, but being around baby chicks, feeding them natural food, and seeing them grow into animals who could help feed me and my family had become a real passion of mine. Meanwhile, younger kids in my neighborhood and school were living on fast food without even thinking about it, because they didn’t know better. I’m all about people making their own choices, but how can you choose when you don’t have all the information?
Going for my Gold Award was the push I needed to really create something and make an impact on my town. I figured there was no better way to teach students about farm-to-table living than to have them do it themselves, so I built a mobile chicken coop and brought baby chicks with me when I’d visit classrooms. It’s been a few years now, and the kids love watching the chickens they’ve named grow up. They really understand the importance of being respectful of the animals and feel good about raising them in a healthy and humane way.
Knowing I’ve helped educate this generation so they know the difference between natural, real food and the stuff you buy that’s full of preservatives and hormones makes me really proud, because, ultimately, it means these kids have a greater chance of a healthy future.