It is difficult not to feel militant about our food production system after watching a movie like this. Yes, the movie is exploitative but it is quietly passionate in its portrayal of a problem that many of us are not even marginally aware of. Myself, I was cued to this problem after reading Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilema, yet, mr. Pollan’s book did not get me going the way Fresh -the movie did.
The movie starts with a very likeable, charismatic farmer by the name of Joe Salatin. It’s hard not to agree with Joe. Later we are introduced to a couple who run a chicken farm. Along with their interview, we are shown HORRIFIC scenes of cute, cuddly baby chicks being mistreated in the name of profit at a chicken farm (I don’t know if that was their farm). The couple and their dog look, for lack of a better term, depressed. They are shot sitting on a couch. In contrast, Joe and the other heroes of organic farming are always shot in the farm, moving, creating, educating. They are shown laughing and caring. Please don’t get me wrong; I am on board here. I just want to point out that the movie is shot with bias so I don’t have to hear it from critics. I know the movie is biased. It has to be. It has to grab us by our collective lapels and shake us. We need to pay attention.
The movie deals with how food is produced, at least in North America, but I suspect this movie will be relevant world-wide. The farmers in India would most definitely agree with this movie. They too have run into the problems outlined in Fresh after using Big-Chem and Big-Ag methods over there. When I left, however, I was thinking about something else: Humanity. How can I buy meat from people who torture animals like that? Tying cows with chains to a mechanical device and dragging them by their necks in a tiny space for God-knows what purpose?! I can’t. Not anymore. I went home and told my wife we were done supporting that kind of indecent behavior. Like I said, it’s hard not to get militant.
I want to offer a bit of caution here as well. There are billions of people on this planet. Thanks to Fritz Haber, the German chemist who invented the process for fixing Nitrogen from the air and to Big-Ag and their Green Revolution, we were able to get to this point. Without Fritz Haber’s discovery (up to that point, only plants could fix Nitrogen from the air), there would be no way for Big-Ag to do what they do and the planet’s population would be a tad smaller. Now, we cannot just stop suddenly. We have to find a way to continue to feed people while we change gears. We can not just let a few billion people starve while we all go organic. We can do it. We are inventive creatures endowed with powerful brains. I recommend that after seeing this movie, or before you see it. that you read James E. McWilliams’ book Just Food. Fresh -the movie is fundamentally a movie about hope. It delivers its content straight into your neural system and you get immediately high. Mr. McWilliams’ book will deliver a sobering discussion to temper that high. Yes, let’s go organic, sustainable, and local but let’s do it the right way.
We all need to watch this movie. We need to get angry. We need to inconvenience ourselves a little and find places where we can buy organic products. If you live in the Wichita area, visit the Love Local Food blog and drop them a note. They are compiling a list of local resources for people who want to buy local, organic products.
Over and out.