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Film Review - "Good Food"

by: JayinPhiladelphia

Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 04:39:14 AM PDT

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As someone who loves good food, especially good food grown and produced in a sustainable manner by local growers and producers here in Oregon and SW Washington, I must say that I was quite intrigued when I first heard of this film.  A recently released 73-minute documentary from Moving Images directed by Melissa Young and Mark Dworkin, "Good Food" is a fascinating and extremely enjoyable film that touches on all aspects of a local sustainable food system.  From farm and ranch, to market or distributor, to grocery store and restaurant and on to our forks and dinner tables - "Good Food" focuses on our successful and ever-growing sustainable local food system here in the Pacific Northwest, and in doing so also demonstrates that we can (and must, if we are to carry on as a working society much longer...) do the same everywhere across the nation.  

A few variables will change region by region, but in the end there's a basic "Unified Theory of Sustainable Food Systems" that is clearly sketched out here - human scale family farms and ranches working with, rather than against, nature, producing healthy food without destructive poisonous chemicals; either selling directly to the public through farmers markets or through local distributors willing to work with small family farms; on to restaurants who source their food locally and change their menus accordingly with the seasons, and neighborhood grocery stores who take their role in the community seriously by making an effort to support local growers and producers while providing convenient access on a retail level to neighborhood residents.

Loaded with informative in-depth interviews with some of the leaders in this movement in Oregon and Washington, and not to mention beautiful farm and ranch scenes and many, many(!) hunger-inducing moments - "Good Food" is one of the best documentaries I've ever seen on this issue, and is definitely worth a view (or ten...).  More below the fold...

JayinPhiladelphia :: Film Review - "Good Food"
The Growers and Producers

The strong focus in this film, as it should be, is first and foremost on the people who grow and produce great food in our region...some of whom I was already aware of, like Eastern Oregon's Country Natural Beef cooperative of family-owned ranches; and also just so many others like Winthrop, Washington's Bluebird Grain Farms, who grow and mill organic heirloom grains for direct sale to the public and local restaurants throughout their area (if I ever myself in that area, I am definitely stopping by to eat at East 20 Pizza!); Skagit River Ranch north of Seattle, where George and Eiko Vojkovich raise pigs, cattle and chicken (and of course, some really beautiful pastured eggs!) in a manner that does not poison and destroy everything and everybody involved; and numerous fruit and vegetable growers, including Hilario Alvarez' family farm in Washington's Yakima Valley, and his 100-plus (!) varieties of peppers.

Not once, but twice during my viewings of this film over the past few days, I had to hit pause and head to the kitchen to make a salad.  Of local greens, tomatoes, mushrooms, sweet onions, garlic and carrots of course...

Great scenes follow from farmers markets and also on the donations that are made from farmers at the markets to local food banks, thereby bringing fresh produce to those amongst us who otherwise have the least access to good food.  A scene is even included on how gleaning on these local farms is also helping bring real food to food banks in our area (there you go, cherryriver!).

The Restaurants and Grocers

Moving on towards the retail end of sustainable food systems, the film contains many great interviews and segments on distributors, restaurants (even an ice cream parlor!) and grocery stores that help bring these good foods from farm and ranch to restaurant and kitchen table.  The segment on Seattle's Stumbling Goat Bistro features one of the many great restaurants in that city that are looking towards a more sustainable future, while at the same time serving incredible food at the peak of freshness that puts other restaurants to shame.  

The interview with Chris Harris of Portland's New Seasons Market begins with a scene of the same TriMet busline I take to and from work (and to and from New Seasons, as well...) pulling up in front of my neighborhood New Seasons, the Seven Corners store at SE Division and 20th, and from there heads into a discussion of their model in which they basically join together a 'traditional' supermarket with a classic neighborhood corner grocer, but one in which local, seasonal and organic products are strongly promoted and prominently featured.  And to my fellow "beer snobs" out there, I should also state that though it isn't mentioned in the film - you will also find the most amazing selection of 22-oz. size single bottles of the best and most obscure microbrews the Pacific Northwest and Northern California has to offer in their beer aisle...

Also featured is Seattle's PCC Natural Markets; and the Vancouver, WA based Portland-area fast food chain Burgerville, which sources all their beef through the aforementioned Oregon Country Natural Beef, and since dropping 'Gardenburger' as their veggieburger supplier back in May, they now even offer 2 veggieburgers from a local producer.  Their french fries are made from local potatoes, their onion rings from local sweet onions, their sandwich toppings and condiments are sourced locally wherever and whenever possible, and their milkshakes also change according to whatever's in season - from featuring Oregon raspberries and strawberries to Oregon hazelnuts...

Watch It!

There are so many quotes and interesting parts of this documentary that I didn't even get into here, and I could probably write 3 or 4 reviews of the film focusing on a different aspect each time.  To wrap it up though, all I can really say is that this is a fantastic film that I really enjoyed watching; and I'm definitely going to do so again, many times...

I highly recommend this film, the link and contact information again is right here.

Hopefully we'll soon see films like this coming out in every region and every corner of America, adjusting for local conditions and circumstances and featuring prominent local growers and producers, citizens, food activists, restaurateurs, chefs, businesspeople...

And on towards a truly sustainable America, one meal at a time.

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Here's to hoping... (4.00 / 3)
Good Food is in all of your immediate futures, beginning with this morning's breakfast!

I can't watch, so I listened (4.00 / 1)
I think I must have missed something because listening was more of a chore than a pleasure. But I could see this film being used well in, say, a school classroom or something. I can't imagine it being something with the mass appeal of a movie like Supersize Me. But maybe that's because I listened instead of watching.

Yeah... (4.00 / 1)
It's definitely geared more towards classrooms than movie theaters, but it does exactly what it set out to do - lays out the basic formula for a successful local sustainable food system by going in depth on what we have here in the Pacific Northwest, but which model is also certainly not limited to just us.  We can get our next generation off to a great start if we make films like this a regular part of public school curricula.

Sorry you can't watch - I can draw you some pictures, maybe?


[ Parent ]
It looks like a film very much worth seeing (4.00 / 2)
but I'm not seeing where I can see it--if you see what I mean.

Where did you get it, Jay? I'm assuming from your mention of hitting pause that you have it on DVD. Neither the website you pointed to nor the official one for the film seems to give any "buy it here" info.

Any tips on getting hold of a copy?

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." --Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food

we both got review copies (4.00 / 2)
and if Jay can't hook you up since you're in the same town, I'd be glad to send you mine (I'm physically unable to watch movies since they give me migraines so I am looking for a worthy recipient for my copy of it). Just let me know.

[ Parent ]
Thanks! (4.00 / 1)
I've been off the blog for a day or so and missed your kind reply.

Jay mentions a potential screening in Portland, and I'll wait to see if such a thing develops. I like the idea of seeing it in company with like-minded Portlanders and have asked him to keep me posted as plans progress.

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." --Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food

[ Parent ]
Oh yeah, sorry about that... (4.00 / 1)
I have a review copy - I can send it to you if you want, just email and ask.  

Just came out a few weeks ago, I believe...and it's mainly playing in festivals in and around Seattle at the moment, but a screening here at EcoTrust is also in the planning stages.

[ Parent ]
I'd love to see a screening along with (4.00 / 1)
other Portlanders and foodies. Would you keep me posted on the potential EcoTrust showing? annehawley at comcast dot net.


"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." --Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food

[ Parent ]
Sure thing... (0.00 / 0)
I'll let you know when I hear something.

[ Parent ]
Okay, a couple of links... (4.00 / 1)
Just received this information from one of the directors of the film this morning:

Moving Images is building a new website (currently under construction, should be finished by the end of today) for the film, which will provide info about future screenings and how to obtain copies -

And the DVD will be distributed through Bullfrog Films in September.

And the offer still stands on the review copy, of course...

[ Parent ]
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