Fresh is my favorite food & farming documentary to date. It is the flip-side of Food, Inc. Where Food, Inc. focuses on the problems of the industrial agricultural system, Fresh highlights the burgeoning local and sustainable side of food. It steers clear of scare tactics and overtly emotional jabs, opting instead to profile real farmers who are making a real difference. It is reFreshing.
That was bad. I’m sorry. No more puns.
Fresh introduces the viewer to a variety of family farmers: Joel Salatin, George Naylor, Russ Kremer, Mr. & Mrs. Fox, and Will Allen. These farmers are all very different. Salatin, of course, is practically legend in the world of sustainable agriculture. Naylor is a conventional soy and corn farmer in Iowa, though he doesn’t use GMO crops and does his best to minimize pesticides and chemical inputs. Russ Kremer is a hog farmer who transitioned from conventional methods to organic after contracting a drug-resistant infection from one of his pigs that nearly killed him. Mr. & Mrs. Fox are conventional chicken farmers, contract raisers for Tyson or Purdue. I don’t remember which one. And Will Allen is the founder of Growing power, an organic, urban farm in Milwaukee.
Where Food, Inc. is overly ambitious, trying to tackle everything from factory farming to Monsanto’s political ties to public health issues to the potential hazards of GMOs, Fresh remains focused on highlighting the many benefits of local, sustainable food. It doesn’t seek to vilify industrial agriculture or the farmers who choose to participate in the industrial system. It doesn’t spend time bashing Monsanto or Kraft or any of the other big ag/big food companies.
It doesn’t blame consumers for placing convenience and cost over everything else when it comes to food. It is almost impossible to watch Food, Inc. and not feel guilty the next time you pick up a packet of Tyson chicken at the store. Fresh doesn’t take the guilt-trip route. Instead it seeks to empower people by presenting a different way of looking at food. Instead of feeling guilty for going to the grocery store, you will actually want to go to a farmers’ market because you will want to meet cool people like Joel and Will!
Where Food, Inc. dwells on seemingly insurmountable problems, Fresh presents reasonable solutions.
Watch this movie. I guarantee you will be smiling by the time the credits start rolling.
You can watch Fresh for free at Amazon.com if you have a prime membership. If not, check your local library. Or if you’d like to borrow my copy (and I don’t have to mail it to get it to you), let me know!