A few weeks ago, I wrote about the movie Fresh.
Last Monday night, I went to an advance screening of another food sustainability movie: Food, Inc.Food, Inc. is similar to Fresh in some ways. Both films cover a lot of the same territory covered by Omnivore's Dilemma; both include commentary from Michael Pollan and Joel Salatin; and both depict the gruesome reality of industrial animal and grain farming. Both filmmakers seem to have been motivated by the same desire for justice and transparency in our food system.
Food, Inc., however, goes several steps farther than Fresh in detailing the ecological, nutritional, and ethical disasters of industrial meat and "conventional" monocrop farming. It also digs deeper into the ties between industry and government regulatory agencies, painting an unflattering picture of Republicans and Democrats alike. It is a film about both the big picture and the gritty details.
If there's a movie out there that will lead people to abjure meat of unknown origin (MOUO), this is it.
Food, Inc. will ultimately be more effective than Fresh. Food, Inc. is more incisive, more polished, has better distribution, and includes a clearer call-to-action for the viewer. For the same reasons, it will be the target of more antagonism. Already, even before the film had been released, Monsanto had posted a "fact" page taking issue with some of the claims of the film. (The filmmaker was on hand at the screening, and, not surprisingly, refuted pretty much all of Monsanto's claims.) That this film even got onto Monsanto's radar is significant. It means that the lines of battle are being drawn, and that the forces of industrial food are taking the real food movement seriously.
Do you remember Fahrenheit 9/11 in summer of 2004, or An Inconvenient Truth in 2006? We need a breakthrough film for the cause of real food.
Go see Food, Inc., and bring a friend or five. The more people who see this film, the more theatres it will reach, and the more press it will get.
This is how movements start.
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, by Weston A. Price: Rather that theorizing abstractly about human nutrition, the author sought out isolated groups of healthy people around the world (this was in the 1930s, when there were still isolated groups of people), and documented their foodways. Price's book is jaw-dropping (literally). He describes group after group of people who are healthy in isolation, and become sick, miserable, and toothless when they adopt a "modern" diet. Aren't you curious what they were eating when they were healthy? Full write-up coming soon.
Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art, by Shizuo Tsuji and Yoshiki Tsuji: A masterwork on the subject of Japanese cuisine, and by extension, Japanese culture.
Winning Bicycle Racing, by Jack Simes: A short, fascinating book on the subject of bicycling, published in 1976, when the majority of men still wore moustaches. And as with any bicycling publication, there are some great facial expressions.
The Secret History of the World: As Laid Down by the Secret Societies, by Mark Booth: A truly fascinating, meticulously documented look at the evolution of human consciousness and religion. What are some of the connections among different religions' creation myths and pantheons? Why are there astrological and other "pagan" symbols in Christian rites? Did you know that "elohim", the Hebrew word in Genesis typically translated as "God", is actually a plural noun? And so on. N.B.: the book describes an almost exclusively male experience. I think Booth could have done more in the front material to explain this, or at least to notify the reader of the orientation.
The Sushi Economy: Globalization and the Making of a Modern Delicacy, by Sasha Issenberg: The history of sushi and the sushi supply chain, detailing the journey that your fish takes from the cold ocean to your neighborhood sushi bar, often by way of Tokyo. Sasha Issenberg focuses on the lives of the people involved in the sushi trade. Fascinating and well-written.
The Story of Sushi: An Unlikely Saga of Raw Fish and Rice, by Trevor Corson: The story of some students at a sushi academy—and more generally, the story of sushi itself. A wonderful book, entertaining, thorougly and carefully researched, and instructive. It makes me want to eat sushi. Or write about it. Similar, but only a bit, to The Making of a Chef, by Michael Ruhlman.
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