Sunday, August 23, 2009

"Food Fight"

"Food Fight," the documentary by film maker Chris Taylor, screened today at Cavallo Point in Sausalito. Part of the town's "Art of the Rebellion" Film Festival, this film delves into the "radical" counter culture beginnings of the organic/local food revolution, kick-started by Alice Waters' opening of Chez Panisse in 1971.  This is a wonderful film and a perfect complement to the more commercial "Food, Inc." which I also highly recommend (see my earlier post).  

In this film, as in "Food, Inc.," the film maker really connects the dots between the dawn of cheap, post-Earl Butz, "food" (those quotes are very deliberate) and the healthcare crisis we are facing today.  But what I really enjoyed most about this documentary was seeing the ties of the organic/local movement to the anti-war movement of the Vietnam era (after all, war mongrels like Monsanto were and continue to be responsible for "industrial" farming as we know it) as well as the ties to the search for "good" food in the face of the 1950's-'60's utilitarian, easy bake diet.

Alice Waters wasn't looking to start a revolution with Chez Panisse.  She just wanted people to value, enjoy and have access to really good food. But with the collaborative introduction of Jeremiah Towers' Regional Menu, a revolution indeed began. And the local farmers (some of them anyway) were only too grateful to provide some of their more "exotic" fare to feed the developing palates of Alice's customers.

Many will argue that the USDA involvement in defining "organic" food ruined the movement. This film, thankfully, doesn't go there.  The audience is simply invited to see the joy and the passion of people like Alice and Milwaukee's Will Allen (NY Times July 5th Magazine) as they feed and educate their communities.

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