Thursday, May 14, 2009

Exploring the Food We Eat…

As a student of Sustainability, I am quickly learning there are many opportunities to learn more about the world around us and efforts to improve our lives.  Last night was such an occasion as I attend a pre-screening of a new documentary about our food production industry, Food, Inc. (By Filmmaker Robert Kenner).

Food, Inc. explores the different aspects of mass produced foods we see on the shelves at the grocery store each week.  Avoiding the sentiment and feeling of an expose, Kenner shares the truth of the current food industry and the evolution we have followed as a nation to come to a point in history where the entire food system should be explored and questioned.  Whether studying the many pesticides and chemicals used in today’s production processes or the subsidies offered

 by the government to keep the cost of food to a minimum, Kenner simply tells the story as it is, without reservation.  The film does not batter the companies behind the products, but tells the viewer what they learned in the process of making this film.

The film also shares the success of companies like Stonyfield Farms and founder Gary Hirshberg.  Most notable in the film was Joel Salatin, owner of Polyface Farm.  Joel is a voice of reason and shared many insights into the missteps of industry as they abandoned old methods of farming for a blend of “science and technology”.  I found it interesting that the industry left life, an essential ingredient for healthy food, out of the equation.

In the end, Food, Inc. offers a list of steps each of us can take to move our food industry to a more sustainable platform.  The list did not focus on protests, marches or other political actions, but rather it encouraged each of us to get involved locally.

  • Buying products at the supermarket that are healthy casts a vote for a healthier society.  Even Wal-Mart understands that if customers don’t want milk with hormones, then they will only stock milk free of hormones.  They did it because of the feedback, through purchases, made by their consumers. 
  • Buy locally at your farmers market and local farm.  If your local grocery store buys from local farms, than buy there as well.  Support your local economy by buying what is made in your community.
  • Make more meals at home rather than out.  With a few exceptions, you know as much about your local restaurant as you do about pre-made cuisine at the store.  Making at home with fresh, local ingredients provides a more healthy meal for your family.

Thanks to Lipscomb University for hosting the event, Food Security Partners and Tayst for providing the reception following the screening. 

The film will be released at the Belcourt Theater in Nashville in late June.  I hope to see you there. Check the Food, Inc website for viewings in other parts of the country.

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