A new food documentary called Food Fight will have a screening Saturday at 3:15 at the Mann Chinese Theater in Los Angeles. I imagine there will be lots of quibbling about it among the food intelligencia (the Ethicurean reviews the movie with a much longer treatment of the film than I'll give here). Me, personally, well, it covered no new ground , it's the same stuff that we all began discovering after Pollan started reporting on the subject for the NYTimes magazine and wrote about in Omnivore's Dilemma and that we've been listening to Alice Waters say for years. And you can listen to all their points again here, along with other familiar voices including Dan Barber, Marion Nestle and the sage Russ Parsons, along with other lesser known ones, farmers and others bringing food into inner cities and into schools.
But: What about all the people who don't cover this field or study it? Like my mom. I think it's an important movie for her to see. I think she needs to think about what her food purchases mean. She loves to cook and loves to eat but she's busy and food politics aren't on her radar. I think she'd find this really interesting. As would much of the country who want to eat well and live will. Ironically, the people who don't need to see this are the people who are most likely be interested in it. So what I would say to all of you who read this blog, tell the non-foodie crowd about it. The more people who know about these issues the better.
Director Chris Taylor includes a good though brief sequence with Representative Ron Kind of
Minnesota Wisconson (arg,I should never post and then rush to catch a plane!), who tried unsuccessfully to introduce amendments into the recent Farm Bill that would support small farmers and underscore other issues discussed throughout the film–it's useful to see what a guy like that, who's bucking the status quo, is up against. Money doesn't talk, it screams.
In a brief email exchange with Russ Parsons, who was concerned about the outcome of Prop 2 in California, he said, "The way to achieve improvements is by making sure there is a financial incentive. Legislating either moves the problem around, encourages the finding of loopholes, or drives the small guys out of business. It truly is, imho, the central paradox of the modern attitude toward food—we want carefully grown, delicious, heirloom, organic, etc., but we only want to pay rock bottom prices. The fact is that all of those things cost more money and if a farmer doesn’t want to go out of business, he needs to make more for doing it."
So there it is. Vote with your fork. Be willing to pay more for your food. Get used to that idea. Embrace it. We spend a ton of money on personal entertainment and cool computers and cell phones and impressive clothes. Paying a little more for your food is not a bad thing. Figuring out ways to make it available to all people is going to be difficult. But starting with schools as Waters and others are working toward is a good place to start.
So tell all you're non-foodie friends to see Food Fight if it reaches their neighborhood.
Postscript: as noted in the comments, Russ Parsons and Mark Peel will be in attendance at the Saturday screening for a discussion following the film.