Saturday, April 17, 2010
Screening of FRESH @ Stone Barns
This week I attended a screening of the food documentary "Fresh" at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. Chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill introduced the film, praising it as "picking up where 'Food Inc.' left us" and he was exactly right. While Food Inc. focused on the national economic and health impact of grossly industrialized agriculture, "Fresh" focused on breaking down the grand illusion of "cheap food", and on individual farmers and their practices, skillfully demonstrating how organic and sustainable farming methods are far more productive and profitable for the farmer, and thousands of times more nutritionally valuable for the consumer. (Specifically featuring our good farmer friend Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms, Virginia.) Be prepared to stomach a little bit of rough animal treatment footage, but I'd HIGHLY recommend seeing it. (There are also plenty of adorable baby chicks and piglets to make up for it.)
After the screening, we listened to a panel discussion with integral members of the sustainable food movement, including representatives of the American Farmland Trust, David Haight and Jennifer Small (also of Flying Pigs Farm), Stone Barns' very own livestock manager Craig Haney, Todd Erling of the Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Corporation, and Jenifer Clapp, organizer of Columbia University's Politics of Food conference, and author of several influential reports on environmental sustainability and food policy.
The discussion brought up several staggering facts, including the idea of an impending global food crisis. That isn't to say that there isn't one already, but considering that the world's population is estimated to increase from 6 to 9 billion by 2050, meaning that we need to increase global food production by 70% to feed all of our new neighbors, AND that 90% of the world's viable farmland is already in agriculture production, then add in climate change for good measure, and we have.... well, a recipe for global crisis. Start growing some veggies, people. Seriously.
The panel also discussed our more local problem of slaughterhouse facility shortages. Our farmers have risen to serve our demand of quality, locally raised, nutritious meats, and now thousands of pounds of meat may go to waste, because farmers can't book their livestock in a processing center. If you haven't read the recent NY times piece, check it out here: Push to Eat Local Food Is Hampered by Shortage
The GSC loves our local food, local farmers, and our community. We encourage you to get your local providers on your shopping radar, and support them through purchases, volunteering, or anything you can do. We'll be starting a "Local Finds" series on this blog to help bring these wonderful vendors to the spotlight. Please share your thoughts and comments.