Friday, January 28, 2011

Movie Review: Ingredients

JenThe documentary film Ingredients features some of the folks who started the local food movement decades ago: farmers and chefs. While Ingredients of course features the well-known chefs credited with bringing farm fresh food to the table (Alice Waters, Peter Hoffman), it also refreshingly introduces lesser-known but equally as important trailblazers (Joan Dye Gussow, Gary Nabhan) who have been advocating for local and organic food for decades.

Organized around the four seasons, Ingredients tells the story of how we got to the industrial food system that dominates our food supply and introduces the renegades who are growing and cooking the tasty alternative. It does a great job of reminding, for folks already in the know, why what we choose to eat is so important and what’s at stake: our health, the environment, our quality of life and our self-reliance. But it focuses not on what awful things will happen unless we do something, but instead on the good that will happen because we’ve done something.

Watching Ingredients is like being invited to the table of these chefs and farmers to share a meal of local, farm-fresh, grown-with-care food. And, though many of the chefs run five-star restaurants, there is plenty of discussion about making sure this kind of food is accessible to all.

The generations of farmers at The Chef’s Garden in Ohio tell a particularly inspiring story about their farm that really hit home with me. Bob Jones Sr. explains how he lost his farm in the 1980s. Bob and his sons credit Jean Louis Palladin, a French chef, with helping them rebuild the farm by telling them, “I’ll buy what you grow if you grow for the flavor, and without chemicals.” This story is just one example of the tenacity of farmers, and of the mutual relationship of those who grow our food and those of us who eat.

At its heart, Ingredients is about the relationships we build around food--showcasing the values in our food and the community we can create when we eat thoughtfully. It’s an illustration of the power of all of us to change our food system. As farmer Carol Boutard of Ayers Creek Farm in Oregon puts it, “It’s through grassroots pressure on a weekly basis that there’s anything truly edible in this country.”

Ingredients is a celebration of the joy food brings us, from the farmers in the field, to the winemakers and chefs in the kitchen, to all of us around the table. It’s about harnessing that joy and community to renew the American food system. Enjoy a farm-fresh meal and watch it tonight! Click here for more information about the film, or to order a copy.

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