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What Kids Say About Food

"I wouldn’t eat a hamster. I wouldn’t eat any small animals. I would eat a big animal, like a cow, because you can see what it’s doing. You can trust it more."
March 6, 2012, 5:00am

Sadie is 9, a cheerleader, and a gymnast.
Neighbor Girl is 8, bubbly, and boy-crazy.
Wolf is 17, autistic, and evangelical.
Max is 16 and a big fan of genetics.
Dora is 12 and is studying to be an eco-terrorist.
Will is 14 and a violinist.

VICE: What do you think about food?
Sadie: It’s good sometimes. Neighbor Girl: It’s sweet. Max: Sustenance is good.

What is genetically modified food?
Sadie: Odd food. Like orange food.

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Wolf: No. It’s normal food but it can be made into a different shape or color. Scientists could take a gene from a blueberry and cup it into a banana.

Would you eat mutated food?
Sadie: I wouldn’t eat anything that looked weird.

That popcorn you’re eating right now was probably genetically modified.
Sadie: No!
Max: I’m a big fan of genetics, so I’m for it. I’m for plant reproduction and not human reproduction. But what Monsanto does with selling seeds to farmers that can’t reproduce themselves… that’s evil. I don’t mind that they’re screwing with the natural order of things, but it does bother me that they’re screwing with poor farmers. Nobody cuts those guys a break. But I’m a sci-fi dork, so modifying the genetics of anything to mutate it into something else, I automatically think it’s cool. Genetically modified food is definitely not good, but I’m just fascinated by it. Like space exploration or exploring any new realms. It’s good to see what can be done.

Are you an herbivore, a carnivore, or an omnivore?
Wolf: I eat only plants. I love most animals. I don’t feel like eating what used to be alive.

What if there’s an animal you don’t love. Or even that you hate. Would you eat that?
Wolf: No! That could be very gross. Neighbor Girl: Plants. I don’t like meat. Well, I kind of do. I like my meat covered.

You’re a secret meat eater.
Neighbor Girl: [laughs] Yeah. I don’t like that meat comes from animals. But I like to eat chicken all the time. So I put sauce on it so I won’t really know it’s an animal.

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Insects, like grubs and ants, are a great source of protein without the fat. They look like they’d taste good fried. Most of the world eats insects. Are you interested?
Sadie and Neighbor Girl: Ewww! Nooooo! Wolf: I wouldn’t mind a chocolate-covered cricket. Sadie and Neighbor Girl: Ewwwwww!

Wolf: Ah ha ha ha! Neighbor Girl: Ewwwww! Wolf: Heh heh heh! Hey, you never had it! Neighbor Girl: You never had it! Wolf: [whispers] I’ve heard that it tastes like french fries. Neighbor Girl and Sadie: Ewww!

Ladies, why is it OK to eat animals but not bugs?
Neighbor Girl: ‘Cause bugs are grosser.

Animals can be pretty darn gross. Have you ever really watched what they do? Ew.
Neighbor Girl: Yeah, like Wolfgang’s hamster. She pulls poops out of her butt with her mouth.

Sadie: Well, but I wouldn’t eat a hamster. I wouldn’t eat any small animals. I would eat a big animal, like a cow, because you can see what it’s doing. You can trust it more. Little animals, or bugs, I feel like it’s going to come back to life in my mouth. I only want to eat something that’s been cut into pieces. Or, if it’s little, it might have legs in your mouth.

Wolf: People cook lobster when it’s still alive, and it has legs.

Neighbor Girl: Gross! It comes from the sea!

Do you think all things that come from the sea are gross?
Neighbor Girl: Yes.

Wolf: Want to know something unique? Some people eat anglerfish.

Wolf, you’re very cosmopolitan. I’d heard that kids are very closed-minded about food, that they like what they like and they think anyone who likes something different is crazy. But I don’t think you guys are like that.
Dora: I’ve eaten spiced mealworms. They were tasty. Crunchy. Spicy.

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Will: I was a vegetarian from birth till age 13, when I was at my friend’s house who is Cambodian. There was some really interesting meat, and I was like, “Whoa! This looks like it was prepared for hours! I may as well try this.” And the mom was like, “Eat dis! Eat dis! You so sinny!” It was tangy. In my mind, I thought it was gross, because it was from an animal, but in my mouth, it was good.

Max: Prior to deciding to become an omnivore, I’d had meat several times, like pepperoni at parties, and I always hated it. But at age 13, I started doing a lot of going out in the woods and see how long I could last; see what I could eat, see what I could sleep in. I found a rabbit that had just been killed by a dog, and I decided I might as well try it.

Is this a true story?
Max: It is definitely true. It was in the woods sort of near my friend Randy’s house.

How did you know a dog killed it?
Max: I saw the dog running away with part of it in its mouth, and I investigated. I took all the necessary precautions making sure it wasn’t rabid or… I boiled it to leech out the impurities, chopped off any bits that looked unsanitary, or where the dog had been eating. I did it because I figured we’re going to screw our world over so much that someday we’re going to have to live out in the woods, so I wanted to be ready.

Did it taste good?
Max: It was greasy. But it wasn’t about tasting good, it was about practice for survival.

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What is the food in cafeterias like?
Max: Now that I’m home-schooled, I think the food at school was pretty good.

Dora: Typically, it’s disgusting.

Sadie: Everybody hates the cafeteria food.

Neighbor Girl: I only like the chicken nuggets, the chicken tenders. I never got to try the bosco sticks. They’re sticks with cheese inside them. I never got to try them! There was this one time, this kid sitting next to me, her name was Nadia, she had bosco sticks and I was like, “Can I have a bite?” She said, “Maybe next time.” I see everybody eating them all the time, and I’m jealous.

Why don’t you just order them?
Neighbor Girl: I just want to try one first, because what if I don’t like it?

Sadie: The only food I like is pizza, bosco sticks, and barbecue mystery meat. I don’t eat the rest. I throw it out.

Neighbor Girl: I like the pizza and the chicken tenders and the chicken nuggets and I want to try the bosco sticks. I don’t eat the rest. I waste it.

It was the same when I was in school. Why do you think they keep on churning out these full trays of food that kids don’t want, and all they eat is the pizza? Can you guys think of a better way to run the cafeteria?
Sadie: Yeah. They give us sherbet for free. And pizza whenever we want.

Wolf: At camp, they give cheap food, too. It’s not as gross-smelling or tasting as school, but it’s still bad. But you know what the nice thing they do once a week? They order food from other places. Like real pizza.

Sadie: Cafeteria pizza tastes like rot. If you want the good pizza, you have to buy it. Once I slammed my school pizza against the table and it didn’t break.

Previously - What Kids Say - When War Is Good