Caring About Where Food Comes From

Last night I had the pleasure to hear one of my local heroes, Joel Salatin, speak after a screening of American Meata new film by Graham Meriwether.

The film was well done, and I appreciated the ways that Meriwether wanted to present not only the great things that Salatin is doing, but the challenges that conventional farmers face too, in a way that was honest and without judgment. His work leaves the viewer empowered and curious to ask more questions and to make better informed decisions.

Overall, I didn’t feel like I learned anything terribly new about the situation that faces American food and its farmers from the film (conventional farmers sign contracts with major companies that require them to purchase and build hi-tech, permanent buildings and make upgrades; conventional farmers don’t own the animals they raise, and if they aren’t producing the yields required by the contract, they can be let go with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt; grass-fed meats take longer to raise but restore the land and are healthier; the government subsidizes corn and soybeans that are fed to conventional animals; etc. etc., and if this is news to you, The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan is a good place to start). But that’s because I read a lot.

I did love seeing footage of the animals at Polyface Farm, and it did make me desperately want to be part of the new, young generation of farmers, if only in my own small way. It just makes sense.

The film is a great introduction to the faces behind the farmers that put the food on our tables, and I definitely encourage you to check it out and support the film, as well as to be mindful of your food-buying decisions this holiday season. Shop local for quality products!

Is it possible to be starstruck by a farmer? Surely that can only be a positive thing... From left to right: Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms, Chris Ely of Applegate, and Graham Meriwether, the director of American Meat.

Is it possible to be starstruck by a farmer? Surely that can only be a positive thing… From left to right at the University of Virginia: Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms; Chris Ely of Applegate; and Graham Meriwether, director of American Meat.

 

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