Thursday, May 28, 2009

FRESH: The Movie


A new agri-documentary, Fresh, featuring the highly entertaining and extremely articulate farmer "stars" and food revolutionaries Will Allen, founder of Growing Power, an urban agriculture food justice organization in Milwaukee and Joel Salatin, a farmer who practices sustainable farming at Polyface Farms in Virginia (and, of Omnivores Dilemna fame) opened. Both men were at the NYC screening last night of Ana Sofia Joanes’ new, and excellent film!!

I strongly recommend you see the movie. It’s a reFRESHing (pun intended) approach to the "broken food system" documentary genre. Joanes manages to shock the viewer with the visual images of inhumane feedlots, baby chicks being thrown on the floor and aisle after aisle of processed “food like substances” without dwelling on those awful (and for some of us clich├ęd) images. Rather she uses the footage to provide contrast for lovely and charming images of what works and what is good about what's become the "alternative" food system -- sustainable, family run farms with delicious food.

Verdant green fields, happy cattle being herded from one pasture to another made of dozens of varieties of tasty, green omega-3 rich grasses followed by chickens scratching at the dung left behind for insect nutrition while smiling workers with baskets picked up fresh laid and no doubt tasty eggs. Hilarious pigs and day old piglets suckling on their mothers tits and rolling in the dirt. And, lots of happy people eating food that they grew and cooked. And more dirt - lots of wormy black composted and delicious looking soil - lots of it.

There are many good points made throughout the movie by the farmers, academics and other food experts and reminders of some eye-popping facts about the loss of land, loss of biodiversity, economic realities of monoculture agriculture, health hazards of feedlots and animal antibiotics to humans, obesity rates and more. (And, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that Michael Pollan makes a lot of these points.)

Will Allen (who sat next to me ), summed it all up quite well during the panel discussion. He talked about the importance of agriculture as an asset, a political asset, something not only the community can get behind but also THE MAYOR -- now that's powerful stuff.

Mr. Allen was joined by Salatin, Dan Barber of Stone Barns, Joan Gussow and Jacquie Berger of Just Food on the panel in what ended up to be an uplifting evening with dreams (fulfilled hopefully) of building the "food revolution" one farmer and one eater at a time.

It was late when the movie got out and I had skipped dinner -- after talking to Joan and Jacquie, I left thinking about juicy, broiled pork chops ala Dan Barber's Blue Hill in the Village. Instead I went home and heated up a bowl of strawberry rhubarb compote leftover from the weekend.

A for movie making, A for editing, and A for music!!!

Upcoming screenings and more information about the movie can be found on the website (www.freshthemovie.com). Coming to a theater near you.

May 31, 2009 - Kansas City, MO
June 2 & 3, 2009 - Minneapolis, MN
June 4, 2009 - Milwaukee, WI
June 6, 2009 - Encinitas CA
June 7 - 11, 2009 - Seattle Film Festival
June 10, 2009 - Vancouver, Canada
June 12, 2009 - San Francisco, CA
June 15, 2009 - Berkeley, CA
June 17th, 2009 - Denver, CO

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