Getting FRESH

I was fortunate enough to attend a screening of FRESH, a new-ish documentary about sustainable food systems, farming, and industrial farming. If you can get your hands on it, please – for all that is sacred – watch it.

It’s highly entertaining and thought-provoking, with engaging interviews, gratuitous shots of cute animals (and, of course, shocking shots of factory animals), and great stories. It leads you in, very slowly, to the craziness that is industrial food production, and just how far removed it is from actual food.

A few things stick out in my mind, but one in particular: overhearing a sustainable farmer’s phone interview, in which he makes abundantly clear that he’s an economist, a scientist, an agricultural expert, and a businessman. For whoever thinks that farmers are just yokels in overalls, you need to watch this movie for that scene alone.

It’s not a one-sided, preaching-to-the-choir movie, either. There’s an interview with a couple who are industrial chicken producers. They sign contracts with big business, who then provide feed, chickens, and deadlines for slaughter. And they say, wide-eyed, that they don’t give hormones or antibiotics to their chickens – but no, ma’am, they don’t really know what’s in the chicken feed.

It talks about monocultures and treatment of animals, and links a number of human health issues – notably, avian flu and swine flu – to the horrific conditions in factory farms.

Ack.

On the whole, it’s a hopeful movie. It makes you want to be a farmer, and to support local business. Even better, it brings economic arguments into the picture: not only is industrial food production bad for your health and your community, it’s actually bad for the economy. It’s so wholly unsustainable and disrespectful – to this planet, to food systems, to all components of food systems – that you wonder how we ever thought it would be a good idea.

And after the movie, the panel discussion really drove that point home. It’s not about food. It’s about food systems. And until our production methods acknowledge and work within those systems, we will have problems.

So, what’s the take-home message? Vote with your dollars and your fork. Cook, or learn to cook. Hug a farmer.

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3 responses to “Getting FRESH

  1. I am so glad that there is more of these eye-opening exposes coming out. There is still a HUGE amount of people who don’t know or care where their food comes from. I don’t think that ignorance is bliss, maybe in the short term.

    Hooray for sharing your experience, I will be on the lookout for this too.

  2. What a great recap! That interview struck me too. Loved that film.

    Have you seen “Food Fight”? That’s an interesting food-related film with a focus on Alice Waters and the food movement beginnings in California.

  3. Kristen – If you can get your hands on it, I highly recommend it. And then tell everyone you know about it.

    Traca – Food Fight sounds great. I’ll have to keep an eye out for it. Thanks for the tip.

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