After attending a screening of the new film Fresh and seeing Joel Salatin and Sally Fallon speak as part of an amazing panel discussion to a standing-room only crowd at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax, I never want to eat anonymous meat again.
Fresh gives just enough insight into factory farming to help the viewer appreciate how very different sustainable farms are. They are the celebrated focus of this piece. I hope that when my son is my age, we’ll be grateful that we listened to the wisdom of these farmers and not full of regret for missing an important opportunity to reverse a harmful trend.
This post originally appeared at the Washington Times Communities’ Family Today section.
It was inspiring to be among a couple hundred people who were passionate about the same issues. I picked up info on local resources and learned from the film about Good Natured Family Farms, a co-op of farms in Kansas City, and about Growing Power, Inc., a non-profit organization that helps people establish community food systems, often in urban areas. People are doing some amazing things in pursuit of food that nourishes them without depleting or harming the land.
It felt like freedom to watch Salatin (of Polyface Farms, profiled in Michael Pollan’s book, Omnivore’s Dilemma) leading his cows toward the next day’s grass field, talking about tending the grass as the best way to take care of the animals.
The movie, made by Ana Sofia Joanes, profiles Salatin and other farmers who’ve chosen to feed animals what they were made to eat rather than subsidized (and often genetically-modified) corn and soy. This usually leads to healthy, happy animals and healthier meat and eggs.
One pig farmer used mainstream methods (including regular antibiotics) until he got a drug-resistant strep infection 15 years ago when a boar stabbed him in the knee. That experience almost took the farmer’s life … but actually gave him his life back. He exterminated his herd and started over without using drugs, which saved him $14,000 the first year. The film aimed to show that animals are not likely to get sick if they are kept in the right conditions eating the right foods.
The screening, sponsored by church’s the Green Sanctuary Group’s Ethical Eating Task Force, conveyed the idea that we really can create a sustainable food movement if we believe we can and if we put food and health over “efficiency” and profit. This would require that the government stop subsidizing corn and soy, which are sold for less than they costs farmers to grow. And the monoculturing method of farming is dangerous, Pollan explains in the film, because pests proliferate in these environments, which leads to a need for pesticides. “Monocultures don’t exist in nature,” he states, except where humans have created them.
I do contribute some to industrial farming practices when I eat out at restaurants, but I buy my eggs and meat from a local farmer and from Polyface, and I frequent farmers markets. I’ve enjoyed my Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share from post-film panelist Hiu Newcomb’s Potomac Vegetable Farms and the cooking classes I’ve taken with panelist Monica Corrado of Simply Being Well. I recently discovered (at my local outpost of My Organic Market ) the fabulous magazine, Flavor, edited by the panel’s moderator, Jennifer Conrad Seidel, and we have plans this year to expand our garden. I was already one of the converted.
But Fresh and this local gathering have shown me there is plenty more to do and have inspired me become even more knowledgeable about local food sources. I want to make sure other people have access to this information, and to the food. I’m going to help my local chapter of Holistic Moms Network put on an information evening and am just about to order myself a pastured turkey. Thank goodness!