One of a pair of food documentaries making the rounds this summer, Fresh, The Movie, in contrast to Food Inc. (reviewed here last week) presents a vision of the possible by profiling heroes all over the country who are changing the way we eat. If Food Inc. was your wake up call, Fresh, The Movie is your call to action.
Fresh’s strength is that it shows the incredible creativity of individuals who are devoting their lives to producing food differently. The success of these individuals shows how organic, ecological farming methods can be viable, in contrast to what the naysayers in conventional food say.
Another strength of the movie is that it profiles people all over the country, not just on the coasts. For those who think that the good food movement is all about Berkeley and Alice Waters, this movie proves that’s just not true.
The movie features a small chain of family-owned grocery stores in Kansas and Missouri. The owner, David Ball, partners with local farmers to sell food produced nearby. At first glance, the grocery stores look like regular grocery stores (not glossy specialty food markets) but alongside the usual national brands are lots of choices of locally-produced produce, honey, jam, and fresh meat, available to everyday people in the community who might not shop at specialty markets. Ball’s stores are successful and they contribute to the health of the local economy by supporting nearby farmers instead of cheaper international producers. Ball’s business, community and customers are all better off for it.
Joel Salatin, hero of Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Food, Inc., is also profiled. His operation is so efficient that he says he makes $3,000 an acre, in contrast to his conventional farming neighbor’s $50 an acre. His customers are not all wealthy foodies. They range from people in his local community (and hours away) to fast food chain Chipotle.
There’s a farmer in Missouri who once raised confinement pigs until he was gored and nearly died from the antibiotic resistant bacteria he contracted in the injury. When he got out of the hospital, he realized how dangerous it is to dose animals with antibiotics to keep them healthy. He slaughtered his entire herd, started from scratch raising pastured pigs and has never looked back.
The movie includes a conventional farmer growing corn and soy in Iowa to illustrate the struggles family farmers are up against in this country. George Naylor has fought Monsanto and other biotech companies against the negative impacts of genetically modified crops.
If you haven’t heard of Fresh, The Movie, that’s probably because it’s being distributed grassroots style in private and small public screenings. I attended a public screening that featured a panel of local food activists, the filmmaker ana Sofia joanes and George Naylor – who traveled from Iowa to California to be there – answering questions after the film.
What a brilliant form of distribution to get people talking and working together for a better food system. Anyone can host a screening. In contrast to walking out of the movie theater and wondering how to get involved, you’ll already be among your own community and you can start to make things happen right then and there. Think of the difference you can make by just hosting a screening in your home, workplace, or community center. You can reach 20 people for just $20. Or up to 50 for only $50. Click here to find out how.