Food Buzz

Because maybe you do care what I had for lunch...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Food Inc.

I am all a buzz over Food Inc. I just saw the Brooklyn premiere, sponsored by Brooklyn Based, at The Bell House. The film tells the story of where our food comes from, and the crazy, unsustainable, unhealthy way we have been growing and processing our food for the last 40 years.

Even though I am the converted I was overwhelmed with the emotional impact of the film. As a writer married to a visual artist I'm always aware of the limitations of the printed word. Oh I know, mightier than the sword and all that. But try getting people who read a whole book vs. look at a painting. I'm so glad that so many food-related stories have been distilled into film, this incredibly accessible medium.

The filmmakers do an excellent job of exploiting the medium, too, joining compelling narrative with visual impact. I'm pleased to report that Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has seen Food Inc., it is being screened for several state legislatures, and it's been translated into Spanish. If you haven't read Omnivore's Dilemma, Fast Food Nation, etc., this movie will be a real eye opener for you. If enough people see this movie it could completely upend our whole food system. I am so excited! Please, please, go see this movie!


Luisa Perkins said...

I can't wait until it comes here!

Kate The Great said...

I can proudly say that I've read Fast Food Nation.

And it wasn't in-class reading, really!

Co said...

I wanna see it, but I suspect if I managed to procure a babysitter, then my wife would not be happy with my choice of movie to go see. I may have to make her babysit and go see it alone. But I really wanna see it!

I have a question for you, which you can address or not obviously... my friend insists that farmers' markets are NOT green (and criticizes the fact that I like to buy local) and that it's better to buy organic food shipped from New Zealand because even though it requires more fuel to travel (and more packaging), it feeds more people so it's more efficient and therefore is better than farmers' market trucks, which although they travel shorter distances, are often only half full. I looked online and found at least a few sources that say it's just complicated... yes, farmers' market trucks are often only half full and that's inefficient, but if more people made an effort to buy locally grown foods, then that system would become more efficient.
Also supporting local foods means you are supporting the use of local land for farming and if it weren't being used for farming, it might be being used for something else.

I am not sure there is any right thing to do. But I will say that after my experience with our CSA last summer, that I refused to eat a fricking out-of-season tomato all winter. I think buying locally makes so much sense and eating seasonal produce does, too, plus it's more nutritious and tastier. I also like having a better sense of where my food comes from. I don't know. Do you have any thoughts on this that you would like to share? Feel free to ignore if this doesn't make sense or you don't care to indulge me.

Adriana Velez said...

Yeah, I'm not sure if the math on the New Zealand argument works out, but it is complicated. Still, at the farmer's market you can meet your farmers, you know exactly where your food is coming from (in NYC vendors are vetted by the Greenmarket), and you're supporting small, local farms.

Keep in mind, also, that there's "big organic" (you have to be big to ship all the way from NZ) and there's "sustainable." Many giant organic farms engage in monoculture, which still depletes the soil and is not the greenest choice. Many (though not all) of the small farms at the market are diversified--crops are fertilized by the farm animals, solving the waste disposal and the fertilizing problems together. Plus farmers are growing a variety of foods and rotating crops--also very green. At the farmer's market you can talk with the farmer and ask them about their growing practices, which enables you to make a more informed choice.

As for the land use question, yes, absolutely! Good point. I'm also hoping it's these local, sustainable farmers who will help keep companies from drilling for natural gas in NYS watershed areas and elsewhere in the state.

Luisa Perkins said...

I just bought the book; the film comes to us on 7/1. Pokey ex-urbs.