Monday, October 19, 2009

Food Fight the movie

I recently had the pleasure of watching yet another food documentary.  Food Fight educates and makes you salivate.  The movie begins by describing the change in food consumption and creation over the past century.  It then moves on to interview long time slow food, local food and organic food activists, revolutionaries and cooks - Michael Pollan, Wolfgang Puck, Dan Barber and Alice Waters.  Their (or maybe the producers) thesis:  most of what is sold in groceries stores today is processed foods and homogenous, tasteless fruits and vegetables cultivated with the sole purpose of shipping them to far off locations that end up making us sick and fat.

The blame is placed primarily on Earl Butz, Secretarys of Agriculture under Richard Nixon.  Earl Butz was given the responsibility of providing the American people with a cheap, reliable source of food.  He succeeded.  Pushing small scale farmers out and replacing them with large, subsidized monoculture farms which grow the food industries new vilian, CORN.  While the attack on corn falls far short of that shown in one of the other new food documentaries - KING CORN it is still vilified for its presence in everything we eat.  

As far as I'm concerned the movie begins to shine when recent MacArthur Award Winner Will Allen is brought into the movie.  Will Allen is a central character in the local food movement, however, Will Allen is not concerned with supplying high end restaurants with locally produced foods for seasonal menus.  Will Allen is concerned with providing low income people with: access to healthy food, the knowledge of how to cook with it and the education about how to combat national epidemics of diabetes and obesity.   Will Allen represented a high point in the movie for me.  A man who understands that healthy food doesn't have to be a luxury and participates in making that a reality.

The movie continues to skim the surface of what Will Allen's non profit GROWING POWER provides to communities when Alice Waters talks about the value of farm to school programs and farming at school programs.  Alice points to the value added when students get their hands dirty gardening at school, cooking, eating and reaping the rewards of eating what you grow.  Students look interested, excited about learning, engaged and healthy.  

Food Fight is a great primer for those who are not as familiar with the origins of the local food movement and I hope it serves as a gateway for people to learn more about how we can provide healthy food for everyone in our neighborhoods. It has certainly motivated me as Greenleaf moves forward with plans for our work in Denver communities

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