Food Fight Video
Food Fight

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Food Fight (2008)

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A fascinating look at how American agricultural policy and food culture developed in the 20th century, and how the California food movement rebelled against big agribusiness to launch the local organic food movement.

Alice Waters, Michael Pollan, Wolfgang Puck, Suzanne Goin
Chris Taylor

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arudenko, posted on October 4, 2015

I had mixed feelings about this film. On the positive side it showed a few examples of individuals in communities trying to spread the appeal for locally farmed food. But mostly these aspects of the film were preaching to the choir of people who already know and agree with this information. On the down side, the film spent a lot of time rehashing old history of agribusiness and glorifying / rewriting some old history of people like Alice Waters and her restaurant. The reality of Chez Panisse was somewhat different than the "people's restaurant" that this film tried to portray. I lived in Berkeley in the 70's and 80's and ate there a number of times, and believe me, it was a very elitist establishment, with the typical prix-fixe meal costing $50 per person (that would be like $100 per person today). That would get you several courses of miniscule portions of nicely prepared, but not particularly memorable foods. An appetizer might consist of 3 small olives, one tiny crostini and half a bite of something else. Main courses were two or three bites each of tasty but not so special meat and vegetables. Desert might be a half a poached pear with a sprinkling of nuts and balsamic. Way overrated and waaay overpriced. Very few people could afford this elitist approach to food. Another talking head in this film was Wolfgang Puck. Really? Have you ever tasted the institutional dreck that he sells in the canned and frozen food isles of the supermarkets?

Another aspect of this film I didn't appreciate was the constant harping on the supposed need to get government involved in subsidizing organic farmers and organic food production. The thinking here seems to be that if the government subsidizes big agribusiness, why shouldn't it subsidize the small farmers as well? This is just screwed up thinking. The best way for people to eat quality foods and get control of their diets and food budgets is to return to the practice of home kitchen gardens and community pea patches for those who don't have garden space of their own. Our pioneers were experts at gardening year around, even in the cold northern climates. Why not; they had to feed themselves or perish. Consider Cuba after the fall of the Soviet Union. With the loss of their sugar daddy the Cuban people were starving. But necessity is the mother of invention, and the Cubans got cracking at teaching themselves to garden. Every square foot of people's yards, vacant lots and parking strips were put into organic gardening and everyone was required to participate. People had to work for their food. Within a couple of years Cubans were feeding themselves with healthy food, for the first time since their glorious revolution. Can't we Americans do this? Just imagine how much healthy, organic food could be grown if just half of every conventional suburban lawn and half of every public park were turned over to organic farming. No government involvement required - all they have to do is get out of the way.

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