Fresh – Inspiring Change in Our Food System

Fresh - Inspiring Change in Our Food System

When we look back at this time a half century from now, how will we feel about our actions (or inactions)? Ana Sofia Joanes, director of the documentary Fresh, compares it to living in Germany during Nazi times, watching atrocities unravel while quietly standing by, doing nothing to fight for what’s right.

This is a very severe lens through which to view our current food system, but the fact is we are letting Big Agriculture and factory farms get away with murder, literally. Just today, there were reports of two people dying as a result of consuming meat contaminated with E. coli (deaths that could easily have been prevented by adhering to proper standards, testing and using quality ingredients). The surge in childhood obesity is epidemic, and yet we continue to serve cheap, toxic food in schools. Every time you eat, you have a chance to stand up for what you believe in, and there are people out there doing remarkable things to create change in our food system.

Director/producer Ana Sofia Joanes with hens in the field.

Director/producer Ana Sofia Joanes with hens in the field.

Fresh celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system. Each has witnessed the rapid transformation of our agriculture into an industrial model, and confronted the consequences: food contamination, environmental pollution, depletion of natural resources, and morbid obesity. Forging healthier, sustainable alternatives, they offer a practical vision for a future of our food and our planet.

Pioneers featured in the movie include urban farmer and food activist Will Allen, sustainable hog farmer Russ Kremer, supermarket owner David Ball, author Michael Pollan, and Joel Salatin, the sustainable farmer he made famous.

Will Allen is a farmer, food justice activist, former professional basketball player and MacArthur Genius Award recipient.

Will Allen is a farmer, food justice activist, former professional basketball player and MacArthur Genius Award recipient.

Utilizing vertical space and hydroponic (soilless) systems, Growing Power maximizes yield while minimizing energy use.

Utilizing vertical space and hydroponic (soilless) systems, Growing Power maximizes yield while minimizing energy use.

The son of southern sharecroppers, Will Allen believes in universal access to fresh, healthy food, and grows lots of it on a 3-acre lot in the middle of urban Milwaukee. His farm, Growing Power, holds classes to teach people how to grow food sustainably. The farm works as a platform for people to share knowledge and form relationships in order to develop alternatives to the industrial food system. A towering 6′ 7″ (he’s a former professional basketball player), Allen is a powerful presence, and has emerged as one of the most influential leaders of the food security & urban farming movement.

With the help of his army of worms, Allen converts a million pounds of waste into black gold every year.

With the help of his army of worms, Allen converts a million pounds of waste into black gold every year.

15 years ago, Russ Kremer ran an industrial hog confinement operation in Frankenstein, Missouri. Following standard practices, he fed his pigs daily doses of antibiotic for growth efficiency and to ward off illnesses. One day Russ was gored by one of his hogs and nearly died from an antibiotic-resistant infection. This incident led him to realize the danger posed by the overuse of antibiotics, and immediately transformed his farm. Now, his hogs are antibiotic-free and allowed to roam freely in the woods.

Sustainable hog farmer Russ Kremer.

Sustainable hog farmer Russ Kremer.

Kremer's happy piglets.

Kremer’s happy piglets.

With the rise of big-box retailers, David Ball saw his family-run supermarket dying, along with a once-thriving local farm community. So he reinvented his business, partnering with area farmers to sell locally-grown food and specialty food products at an affordable price. His plan has brought the local economy back to life, and business is thriving.

David Ball challenges the big box retail system by providing what they cannot, access to local food.

David Ball challenges the big box retail system by providing what they cannot, access to local food.

Informational signage in Ball's stores lets shoppers know where their food comes from, down to the name of the farmer.

Informational signage in Ball’s stores lets shoppers know where their food comes from, down to the name of the farmer.

Michael Pollan needs little introduction, his books The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto and The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World, and numerous articles in The New York Times have made him the voice of a generation struggling to create change in our food system.

Author Michael Pollan.

Author Michael Pollan.

Joel Salatin is the true star of the film. He says he is “in the redemption business: healing the land, healing the food, healing the economy, and healing the culture.” His Polyface Farm in Swoope, Virginia is the embodiment of all those values. He produces beef, chicken, eggs, turkey, rabbits, and forestry product. Yet, Joel calls himself a grass-farmer, for it is the grass that transforms the sun into energy that his animals can then feed on. By closely observing nature, Joel created a rotational grazing system that not only allows the land to heal but also allows the animals to behave the way the were meant to – letting chickens express their “chicken-ness” and pigs their “pig-ness.” The spark in his eyes and passion in his voice makes us all believe that it is possible to do it the right way, we don’t need feedlots and confinement, nature has it all figured out already, and she is way smarter than we are.

Sustainable farmer Joel Salatin brings sensibility, systems thinking and hope for the future back to farming.

Sustainable farmer Joel Salatin brings sensibility, systems thinking and hope for the future back to farming.

Find screenings of Fresh near you, or find out how you can easily organize your own.

Top photos: grapes at dawn and happy cows at Salatin’s Polyface Farm.

About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).
Submit your comment

Please enter your name

Your name is required

Please enter a valid email address

An email address is required

Please enter your message

About

What constitutes the good life? It’s a question we’ve asked ourselves since the dawn of time and something we all strive for. To us, the good life is not a destination but a journey. We want to see more positivity in the world. Thinking happy thoughts makes for happy people, and happy people are more productive, innovative and at peace with the world. We believe in the transformative power of good news.

Goodlifer © 2019 All Rights Reserved

Designed by WPSHOWER

Powered by WordPress