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San Francisco magazine writer dives into foodie kids books

Leslie Crawford had a the dream job of rom-com film land...Senior Editor at San Francisco magazine, having lattes and laughs with her co-workers amidst spectacular views of the Bay. But somehow her backyard changed from chrome table tops to pigeon coops...and she's super happy about it.

· animal rescue,for kids,food rescue,san francisco,compost lover
This pig was taken from Sweet Olive Farm's website!

pic from sweetolivefarm.org

One of our haulers, Nam, actually rescued a chicken recently that had fallen out of a truck; she ended up bringing the chicken to a friend's house where she sent me pictures of him eating blueberries! She's a super compassionate person, and if she's ever having a down day, it's never because of something that happened to her, it's because of something that happened to an animal. I wish I could be more like that! When I found out about this fantastic kids' book about animal rescue, it seemed like perfect timing to chat with the author and spread the word about the book launch of Sprig: The Rescue Pig.

Sprig the rescue pig is a children's book written by Leslie Crawford and illustrated by Sonja Stangl. It's published by an amazing press called Stone Pier Press! They focus on publishing books and articles about food and purpose:) Based on a true event: a pig is jumping out of a truck going down to the slaughterhouse. Somehow by his sense of smell, he meets a little girl Rory and has adventures with her! Because Sprig gets HUGE, Rory's mom finds a great rescue farm for Sprig. And in some incredible feat, Leslie Crawford shares the truth about pigs in a way that is somehow light, informative and heartfelt in its telling. Like the best kid books, you can read it and see the deep darkness or light within it, or it can just be a fun story. Here's Leslie below!

...and Sonja the illustrator!

KKB: What is the day in the life of a writer like?

LC: Days begin and ends with birds - chickens and rescue pigeons. Starts with room service for all of the birds.

KKB: How did the pigeon adoption happen?

LC: My daughter's godmother had a pigeon adoption booth at the farmers' market - a lot of pigeons end up in shelters because they have escaped or they are released at weddings and events, but don't know how to survive in the wild after they are released. My in-laws have a farm outside of Assisi in Italy, and I had this vision of Francis (link to full film here - kristen) surrounded by all of the animals...and we adopted one from there! So we built an aviary on our deck.

KKB: What magazines did you work for?

LC: Senior Editor at San Francisco Magazine, Baby Center, Great Schools

KKB: Do you plan on writing many kids books or was this a one-off?

LC: Clare Ellis, publisher at Stone Pier Press is focused on sustainable foods and being kind to the planet, and she wanted to do a series on animals that we eat. On pigs, another on chickens and then one about a cow. Now we might do one about pigeons too! Her brainchild, and I ran with it.

KKB: What are your favorite 3 kids books?

LC: Secret Garden, James and the Giant Peach, Alexander and the Wind Up Mouse

KKB: How did you transition from magazine writing into kids' book writing?

LC: For a kids book, it's quite elusive...I've had to try to get myself inside the head of a pig, and of course you can't, but there are reasons those animals to things and there is an intelligence to what they do, and it's best to understand from a place of empathy! To fictionalize a creature without being patronizing or silly, I had to give the animal some respect...and the reality of being an animal in a factory farm is so horrific that there's no way I could describe it in a kids' book...so the book ended up as kind of a fairy tale. We want to deliver a message without being heavy handed or guilt-trip anyone about it.

KKB: When is the right time to tell your kids where meat comes from?

LC: I think it depends on the parents' goal. If you are a parent that's an omnivore and that's fine...I don't know if they needs to have that discussion. But if the goal is to make the association between factory farming and the impact on the planet...you can do that at an early age. My personal goal is not to guilt trip my kids...my kids eat bacon. I try to tell them why I have made the choice to be vegetarian, but I try not to shame them. My sister and law and sister are both vegan, and they have always talked about it, it's their culture in the family.

KKB: What are your views on potlucks and dietary choices?

LC: If my friends bring something with meat, I wouldn't eat it, but I noticed that people bring meat less knowing that I'm vegetarian. Every meal people don't eat meat is better for the planet all around, but I never want to make people feel bad about their choices. I wrote about plastics years ago, and my friends were so mad at me and made them uncomfortable so I stopped doing that!

KKB: What's your dream for the result of this book?

LC: People will get to know this pig just as they got to know Wilbur. This is as smart an animal as a dog...curious and loving...only not if they are defending their young. They are up there with dolphins and chimpanzees in terms of intelligence. The closer we get to animals, the less we would want to eat them. The farm way of raising animals okay, it's a much more honest way of going about it.

KKB: Do you feed your animals food scraps:

LC: I mostly feed them chicken feed, but I help out at the farmers' market, and I bring back kale and lettuce every Saturday. I probably don't produce enough scraps to feed the pigs with just rescue food.

KKB: How do you know what food is good for animals?

LC: Some things they just won't eat. I save the really spoiled food for my worm bin. Also, we have compost/trash/recycling with Recology in San Francisco.

KKB: Do you have friends who don' t use their compost bin?

LC: I go through the trash a lot. I get crazy about composting! It's hard for me, actually, when my friends are throwing their food into the landfill...I do get kinda lectur-y. These are brilliant people! Everybody has 3 bins on the curb and it's the law the put food scraps in the compost bin. They are about to issue new landfill bans that are very small. It takes years of social engineering to change behaviors. I think Recology knows this, too.

KKB: How can we read and share your book?

LC: It's available for pre-order from an online order from Avid Bookshop in Athens, from Chelsea Green.

KKB: Do you envision kids' book clubs?

LC: Yes! It would be great in schools, in terms of books that are educational in that way and there's a lot of pig facts in the back. For example they are quite clean, get sunburned and the mud protects them, it's like sunscreen. Chickens also take dust baths!

If you want to connect and help out at a local animal sanctuary in Athens, check out Sweet Olive Farm or come to Baaa-maste yoga on Saturdays at 6pm! Check their facebook to make sure it's happening:) You can connect with Leslie Crawford on her website and buy the book here!

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