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Queen of the Sun screening

Queen of the Sun, another independently produced documentary about bees and Colony Collapse Disorder, is in town for this weekend only.

In 1923, Rudolf Steiner, a scientist, philosopher & social innovator, predicted that in 80 to 100 years honeybees would collapse. His prediction has come true with Colony Collapse Disorder, where bees are disappearing in mass numbers from their hives with no clear explanation.

The film is directed by Taggart Siegel, who also directed “The Real Dirt on Farmer John,” a documentary about farmer John Peterson of Angelic Organics.

Showtimes:

  • Fri, May 27th @ 7:45pm
  • Sat, May 28th @ 3:15pm & 5:30pm
  • Sun, May 29th @ 1pm & 3:15pm

Location:

O Cinema
90 NW 29th Street
Miami, FL 33127
(305) 571-9970

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What’s Organic About Organic

What’s Organic About Organic screened locally last month for one night only at a yoga studio on South Beach. If you missed it and want to see the film, you’ll have to buy the DVD. Copies (licensed for home viewing) are available for $20 (+ $5 shipping) on the movie web site until Dec. 31. You have the choice of donating 10 per cent of the proceeds to FOG (Florida Organic Growers), the not-for-profit educational arm of the organic certifying agency in Florida.

Many of the people who read this blog are already aware of the importance of eating local and organic food. They’ve had their culinary awakening. Readers I’ve met tell me they’ve read Michael Pollan, seen the movie Food Inc., and are aware of horrors of factory farming. They’re doing their best to clean up their act in hopes of cleaning up the food system. As a result they are CSA members, shop at farmers markets, and/or grow their own food gardens.

That’s all well and good. Now, as conscious eaters and locavores, how do we take it to the next level? How can we eat with an ecological consciousness?

That question is posed by What’s Organic About Organic, a new thought-provoking documentary. According to Marty Mesh, organic farmer and executive director of FOG (Florida Organic Growers), “Organic farmers are stewards of the land. The environmental benefits serve all, such as clean water and carbon sequestration. Consumers need to realize how expensive cheap food is, what the hidden costs are,” he said. “What does it cost to clean up polluted water, and what does it cost for farm worker health care?”

Growing and eating organic food is an environmental act. WOAO interviews several organic farmers who grow according to what’s good for soil and plants. They see themselves as stewards taking care of the land, with a stated mission of preservation of farmland, as compared to conventional or “chemically addicted” growers.

The film also follows the evolution of organic regulation and marketing of organic foods. The organic marketplace is getting increasingly consolidated, and “small farmers can’t meet price or variety or volume to get into larger stores. They (large chain stores) want only what they can market,” Marty said in the film. And, according to the film, one solution would be to create a farmer-owned brand which doesn’t compromise its organic principles and practices, and which can market itself to stores like the large growers do.

Shelley Rogers and Marty Mesh

Marty was was interviewed for the documentary, and is also its co-producer. He was present at last month’s screening, where I met him and filmmaker Shelley Rogers.

Shelley told me that she always was into environmental issues. Her mother was a nutritionist, and they had a vegetable garden. But it wasn’t until she worked as a sous chef that she had her own awakening about food. When told not to wash zucchini before chopping it up (because it would take too much time), Shelley began to wonder, “What are we serving to these people? Who touched this? How was it grown? What do I know about it?”

Sharing answers to these questions led her to grad school at NYU where she got her degree in media culture and mass communication. She was inspired to use media for social change, and started work on WOAO in 2005. “I want to get people to become aware of the environmental benefits of organic production. I want them to think for themselves, and see that organic is valuable.” More consumers have to become involved in the organic food movement, however. If it’s farmers only, it’s a big uphill battle.

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Watch FRESH: The Movie

FRESH: The Movie is back is this area, for a rare, one-night community screening.

FRESH celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system.  Forging healthier, sustainable alternatives, they offer a practical vision for a future of our food and our planet.

Among several main characters, FRESH features urban farmer and activist, Will Allen, the recipient of MacArthur’s 2008 Genius Award; sustainable farmer and entrepreneur, Joel Salatin, made famous by Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma; and supermarket owner, David Ball, challenging our Wal-Mart dominated economy.

Friday, Dec. 17th, 7:30pm
Artspace MAGQ
8747 SW 134th St, Miami FL 33176

Tickets are $10. Proceeds donated to local non-profits. An art show focused on food will also be on display in the gallery.

Please RSVP to Barbara & Martha by Evite or call 305-301-4894.

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If you missed seeing FRESH the Movie at last month’s screening up in Broward, you have another chance. The good folks at the Urban Oasis Project are showing FRESH at their September meeting. Also on the agenda is a potluck dinner and a garden tour. The screening/meeting is on Saturday, September 12th. For more details — including how to RSVP — go to the Urban Oasis project website.

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Two films about food rolled into town last weekend. Both FRESH and Food, Inc. (which played all around town earlier this summer) cover the same ground of factory farming versus sustainable organic family farming. Both will hopefully make you think twice about what you eat and where it comes from. But the two films differ like night and day in tone and approach toward current food production systems, and their discussion of alternatives.

Food, Inc. was definitely the big budget production with slick graphics, aerials, and an emotion-wringing score. The film focused on the dark side of corporate, mass-produced products which we all know packaged and processed foods in the supermarket. Chickens and sides of beef hanging on large hooks passed on conveyors that filled huge buildings. One could almost smell the footage of in-your-face scenes of feedlots and slaughterhouses. Food, Inc. mentioned a lumber of lawsuits that Monsanto had filed against farmers for saving seeds, or getting their fields infected by GMO pollen (familiar ground if you have already seen The Future of Food). Monsanto took a drubbing in this film for suing farmers. Author Michael Pollan explained all processed foods are based in some ways from mass produced corn or soybeans. (If you’ve read The Omnivore’s Dilemma, you’re familiar with this information.) As the credits rolled, I felt I had been beaten by a gloomy sci-fi stick, only the future is now. Alternative organic farming was mentioned as a solution, but Joel Salatin’s enthusiasm seemed insufficient to overcome the horrors of factory farming and corporate foods.

Luiz Rorogues, Gabriele Marewski, Michael Laas

Luiz Rodrigues, ECOMB; Gabriele Marewski, Paradise Farms; Michael Laas, ECOMB

After the showing of Food Inc., organic farmer Gabriele Marewski of
Paradise Farms fielded questions. She bought an optimistic attitude (along with a big bowl of longans, avocados and mamey) that provided an antidote to the movie’s gloom. “The biggest revenge is to grow our own food,” she said. “Grow whatever you possibly can. It’s a movement and they can’t stop us.” She mentioned her new business venture, Miami Victory Gardens, a potting and growing system that anybody can put into their yard to raise their own herbs and vegetables. Gabriele described gardening as a spiritual exercise which allows you to “develop a relationship with food and your place in the world.”

The next day I went to see FRESH, hesitantly thinking I would get more of the same. There are some overlaps between the two films. Both interviewed organic farmer Joel Salatin and author Michael Pollan. In Food, Inc., they were cast as voices criticizing the corporate food system, but in FRESH the conversations with them and other farmers are more thoughtful and optimistic, and the film’s slower pace allowed interviews to go deeper.

FRESH the movie

FRESH the movie

Salatin was beautifully photographed working on his farm herding cows to greener pastures, towing eggmobiles full of chickens in early morning mist, and hanging out with happy tail-wagging hogs. He spoke about growing a superior product on his own terms that people clamor for, and described his chickens as “fellow workers that you honor and respect and fully allow them to express their chickenness.” He is “committed to healing the land,” and he said that “part of the responsibility of being stewards of the earth is to respect the design of nature.”

Michael Pollan pointed out that cheap food is an illusion because ultimately it’s paid for by the environment, by subsidies, or by your declining health. “Local and organic costs more but it’s worth more,” he said. Conventional food may be cheaper, but its nutritional values are also cheaper, down by 40 percent. The big challenge remains in the “food deserts” of inner cities, where people want fresh food but can’t get it in their neighborhood stores.

One possible solution (as farmer Gabriele suggested) is to grow it yourself. FRESH interviewed Will Allen, urban farmer in Milwaukee and 2008 MacArthur Fellowship recipient, who teaches people how to raise their own food. (CSA member Melissa Contreras attended his workshop earlier this year.) “It is important that everybody has access to healthy, sustainable food,” Allen said. And what better way to do it than grow hanging pots of microgreens, build a tank and stock it with tilapia, and compost with lots and lots of squirmy worms? Urban farming, according to Allen, is a “social justice movement, based on how people live and how we treat each other.”

FRESH ended on a hopeful note. Every decision made in the supermarket creates the future for land, diversity, farmers and our own bodies, all by voting with our dollars, explained agricultural economist John Ikerd. “It’s a new vision for the future that we don’t have to wait for,” he said. “We can transform the whole system one person at a time by choosing what we buy and what we eat right now.”

Scott Lewis, Melissa Contreras, Antonio Guadamuz

Scott Lewis, Melissa Contreras, Antonio Guadamuz, of Urban Oasis Project

Food, Inc. might scare you a bit, and FRESH will inspire you to plant some seeds. They both will certainly make you think. Hopefully those of us who do vote with our forks can help those who are stuck in food deserts or seas of nutritional ignorance. Over 400 people belong to the Redland Organics CSA. Hopefully our changes will ripple out to others, like our kids learning to make healthy choices, or friends who are willing to try something other than “foodlike substances” (to quote Michael Pollan).

As for the corporate food system, I suspect it won’t completely change until the growers change. This summer I was visiting relatives in southwest Wisconsin, in an area full of corn, wheat and soybean farms. They are family operations, and average about 100 acres. But since my last visit a few years ago, I saw more clusters of houses and less farms. The land gets sold because the farmer just can’t make a profit much longer, or the children don’t want to continue. Why don’t they switch to vegetable farming, I asked naively. Because that takes too much labor, I was told. Where are the farmer’s markets, I asked. Was told Hmong refugees who settled in the area grow their own kinds of vegetables and sell to each other, but that’s about it for local markets. Hmmm, maybe commodity farmers in Wisconsin need to see FRESH or talk to Salatin… I’m just sayin…

ana Sofia joanes article about making FRESH
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ana-joanes/ifreshi—-new-thinking-a_b_201822.html

Alexandra Duffy

Alexandra Duffy, urban farmer

Thanks to Alexandra Duffy, urban farmer, who obtained the DVD of FRESH and organized the screening. Get your own copy from the movie web site.

Food, Inc. will be available on DVD in November. Watch the trailer here.

Resources mentioned in audience discussions are veggieswap.com, squarefootgardening.com, veggietrader.com, localfoodmiami.ning.com, and eatwild.com.

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Hungry for change?

Hungry for change?

If you missed Food Inc. when it first came out, or you want to see it again, there are two screenings this weekend at the charming Miami Beach Cinematheque on South Beach. These screenings are part of the new Cinema GREEN environmental film series in collaboration with ECOMB (Environmental Coalition of Miami Beach).

Friday, August 21, 2009 at 7:00 PM
Screening followed by Q&A with organic farmer Gabriele Marewski from Paradise Farms Organic.

Saturday, August 22, 2009 at 7:00 PM
Screening followed by Q&A with Chef Jeff Mcinnis from De Lido Beach Club at the Ritz Carlton.

Buy tickets online

Miami Beach Cinematheque
512 Espanola Way
Miami Beach, FL 33139
Phone: (305) 673-4567
Website: www.mbcinema.com
E-Mail: info(at)mbcinema.com

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Free Screening of FRESH: The Movie

Saturday August 22, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Hollywood Branch Library
2600 Hollywood Blvd.Hollywood, FL 33020

A brief Q&A to follow movie. Taste local flavors from farmers in SFLA, and Pat of Yummy Yard will discuss ways to transform your yard into an edible garden.

For more information please contact Alexandra at 305-297-2000 or alexandra(at)nestpartners.com

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.

Among several main characters, FRESH features urban farmer and activist, Will Allen, the recipient of MacArthur 2008 Genius Award; sustainable farmer and entrepreneur Joel Salatin, made famous by Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma; and supermarket owner, David Ball, challenging our Wal-Mart dominated economy.

Thanks to Melissa Contreras of the Urban Oasis Project for passing this along.

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