Documentary about Food Industry at Center Draws 200 People
02/01/10 by Staff Writer
EDITOR’S NOTE: Buying local foods positively impacts air quality because the produce doesn’t have to be shipped across the country. Consequently, less fuel is used and less harmful emissions are released into the air.
More than 200 people packed the house at the Center for the Environment facility on the Catawba College campus Jan. 28 for a screening of “Fresh: new thinking about what we’re eating.”
The film is a documentary about the food industry, its change over time from small family farms to large industrial farms, and the recent shift toward more sustainable operations.
The film noted that the farms of our grandparents and great grandparents thrived because of diverse crops and livestock. This diversity was beneficial for all parties involved. People consumed the useful parts of the plants, the animals ate the parts of the plants that people considered waste, and then the animal waste was returned to the ground as fertilizer to help feed the plants.
As Americans industrialized the farming operation to take advantage of quantities of scale and as they mechanized farming techniques, they produced cheaper food but farms became less diverse. This created problems. When farmers raise large quantities of animals, animal waste becomes a problem. Similarly, growing only one kind of plant on a field year after year depletes the nutrients of the soil, which creates the need for chemical fertilizers.
“Fresh” promotes taking the best of both methods by combining sustainable agriculture with high yields.
Dr. John Wear, the Center’s executive director, told the group that this event offered an opportunity to discuss “a new vision for our future that can start right now.” He explained that the Center staff and other partners are in the process of planning spring and summer workshops on creating community gardens, planning and planting gardens and freezing, canning and preserving the harvest. The Center will also offer forums focusing on connecting “our local farms to our forks.” The Center’s website – centerfortheenvironment.org – will have details later.
A panel discussion followed the film. Dr. Chris Magryta of Salisbury Pediatrics told the audience that we can pay now by purchasing and consuming fresh vegetables and organic products or we can pay later in medical bills because our bodies will be negatively affected by our diet of unhealthy foods.
We don’t need to eat as much meat, Magryta said. And when we do, we should consume organic meats. Since cows are evolved to eat grass and not grain, grass-fed beef is healthier. It contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for us, unlike grain-fed beef, which contains omega-6 fatty acids, which are bad for us. In fact, omega-6 fatty acids cause an inflammatory response in our bodies.
Lee Menius of Wild Turkey Farms reminded people that they can support local farms and receive fresh vegetables and organic products each week through a program called Community Supported Agriculture. Consumers pay a flat fee up front and then get seasonal foods each week from local farmers. People can sign up for a weekly food basket by visiting breadriot.org.
Maggie Blackwell of the Salisbury City Council and Bread Riot urged the audience to frequent the Farmers’ Market and buy local products. She noted that the Salisbury Farmers’ Market honors food vouchers, dispelling the notion that eating organic foods is an upper- and middle-class luxury.
Libby Post, a dietician with Rowan/Salisbury Schools, noted that school lunches are healthier now than in the past. For example, the schools serve 100 percent whole wheat bread, brown rice and more fresh vegetables.
Menius used a surfing image to illustrate the momentum that is building for local and organic foods. “We’re at the crest of a wave,” he said, and the local foods concept is ready to take off.
The screening was co-sponsored by the Center, Bread Riot and Wild Turkey Farms. Bread Riot, under the guidance of Cherie Turner, prepared the reception.
Farms that donated fresh produce, eggs and local meat for the reception include Bame Farms, Poplin Farms, Laughing Owl Farm, Goat Lady Dairy, New Moon Organics, Fisher Farm and the Bread Basket.