“Americans fear only one thing…inconvenience.” This was the statement that started the movie Fresh. I was fortunate enough to see it last night because some mothers from one of the local elementary schools had a viewing on their campus. They are trying to change the food system in the school and are thinking out of the box on how to do this.
The movie wasn’t the doom and gloom outlook that so many other movies portray when talking about the food industry these days. Instead, it showed how sustainable farming is possible and beneficial for our communities and our world. There were clips from industrialized farms and interviews with farmers stuck in the system that we’ve created, but the true basis of the film showed successful farmers who haven’t bought in to the standardization of food and who believe in mimicking nature as much as possible when growing crops and raising animals.
I find it sad that we’ve grown into a culture that puts money in front of health. That we have turned our attention away from what is happening to farmers and to the food we put into our bodies. That we would rather not know what it is that we’re eating for convenience sake.
The monoculture environments that have been created for the production of food are not only unnatural but unhealthy. Because the animals are being raised indoors, without sunlight and deprived of exposure to other animals, disease is prevalent. To counter the exposure to disease they are fed a list of antibiotics and hormones. A list so long that the pages just scrolled in front of the camera.
I felt were there were two alarming facts shared in the movie. One was that the industrialized cattle who are herbivores by nature are fed meat. Not just dead cattle but at times diseased dead cattle which makes me say “no wonder diseases like mad cow showed up”. The other point that was alarming was about the chickens. I’ve always known that the way they raise chickens is horribly wrong but this movie just clinched it. Not only are the chickens placed in an environment where they’re standing on a product that has a warning label on the bag that says it’s an eye and skin irritant and that you need to wash your hands immediately after coming in contact with it but they’re given major hormones and antibiotics to speed the growth rate so that they are ready to be slaughtered in half the time they should be, just 4 months after they are hatched.
It is true that local organic food costs more but they’re worth more. Cheaper food is nutritionally diminished. Key nutrients, vitamins and minerals have declined approximately 40% with the introduction of industrialization. You do get what you pay for, with food as much as anything else.
Every time we buy meat, poultry and fish we are making a choice. Every time we buy produce we are making a choice. What choice are you making? Are you buying grass fed, free range meat and poultry? Organic, pesticide free produce? What are you putting into your body and the bodies of your children. I know that not everyone can afford to eat organic all the time and I know that not every one lives in an area where they even have a choice for organic but I do know that if there is a will there is a way. As one of the farmers who started a local co-op of organic food stated in the movie, if everyone just spent $10 a week on organic food it would make an enormous impact.
Besides finding ways to support your local farmers, and this is something that I’m going to attempt, not eating meat for every meal will make a huge difference on both your health and the environment. I don’t know if it’s how I was raised or a product of our culture but I wind up cooking meat for dinner almost every night. Our bodies don’t need that much meat and if I can introduce a vegetarian meal even twice a week I know that will be a change for the better.
I am a firm believer in “you are what you eat”. I’ve always been drawn to fresh, healthy food. I can’t say that I’m healthy 100% of the time. Oh, I can remember those days in college when I would buy a big bag of Dorito’s and have “movie night”. I would polish off the entire bag myself, down to the crumbs stuck in the corner of the bag. I still crave those horrible chips every now and again, but for the most part, I try to eat well, healthy, organic.
I loved what one person said in the movie, “part of our job as stewards of the earth is to respect the design of nature”.
I hope that with more movies like Fresh being made and attention being brought to the industrialization of our food, more sustainable farms will succeed and bring healthy, organic food to our tables. I’m excited to find more restaurants buying local organic farmers market produce and meats. I’m excited to try to cook more seasonal food. I’m excited to feel better about what I’m putting in my body.
For anyone interested, HERE is a link to a chart of seasonal produce in Northern California. This is provided by the Pacific Coast Farmers Market Association.
Eat healthy, eat FRESH!