“Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.”
—from “Concord Hymn” by Ralph Waldo Emerson
There are revolutionaries in every generation, individuals who buck the status quo, who take up the mantle of a cause and push—sometimes violently, sometimes just with words—changing the course of our culture irrevocably. Our recent history has a preponderance of them, from Martin Luther King Jr. leading freedom marches through the segregated south to Bobby Kennedy advocating for the poor, from Cesar Chavez organizing farm workers to Mario Savio, standing on a police car in Berkeley, California demanding his right to freedom of speech be protected. Our modern revolutionaries struggled against the prevailing tide, changing how people think, how they act and, sometimes, how they ate.
Food Fight, a new film by Chris Taylor, documents the American food revolution, from family farms to factory food to farmers’ markets. The film is an homage to the revolutionary spirit of Alice Waters, who, by simply seeking out the most tomato-y tomato and the earthiest greens for her restaurant, Chez Panisse, began to revolutionize the discourse about food in our country. The film also focuses on the entire generation of chefs that Waters inspired, from Suzanne Goin (A.O.C., Lucques, Hungry Cat) to Dan Barber (Blue Hill) and other chefs, like Wolfgang Puck (Spago, Cut), who, through his food, helped spread the philosophy that the best ingredients, treated simply, trumped fancy cooking techniques.
But the documentary doesn’t stop there. It also includes conversations with the small farmers who are battling agri-business to bring their communities fresh, healthy produce free from pesticides and herbicides and those who are struggling just to get produce to their neighbors at all. And it talks to the people pushing to get the conversation about our food culture into the mainstream, people like Michael Pollan (Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food), Marion Nestle (What to Eat, Food Politics) and Russ Parsons (How to Pick a Peach).
Whether you’re already interested in the politics of food or just good eats, see this documentary worth seeing.
Food Fight premiers this Saturday, November 8, 2008 at 3:15 p.m. at the Mann Chinese Theater in Hollywood as part of the AFI Los Angeles Film Festival.
If you don’t live in L.A. or are unable to attend the festival, join Food Fight’s Facebook group to keep apprised of upcoming events.
“Revolution never tasted so good.”