PolyCultures: Food Where We Live
Today I viewed the screening of this documentary by LESS Productions in Cleveland, Ohio (http://www.lessproductions.com/). The film explores the topics of sustainable farming practices in urban community settings. Community and food are inseparable and in many depressed areas of the country, including Cleveland, where grocery stores have closed and fast food has moved in the health of that community is doomed. Luckily there are visionary and ideologic people who are creating small organic farms, community gardens and affordable CSAs (community supported agriculture) to bring these impoverished areas a glimmer of hope.
The film featured several farm organizations within 50 miles of Cleveland that grow and sell produce in community food shelters, like City Fresh. Great Lakes Brewery demonstrated how a local business can create sustainable agriculture by having a small farm at Hale Village, where the grain waste from brewing is used as compost for the garden and the produce ends up on the menu. Through the course of the film they cover seven groups that are working toward better foods for America without the aid of fossil fuels or pesticides.
One area the film covered, and would have liked to heard more, were interviews with Michael Pollan of USC. Michael has written many articles and books, like The Omnivore’s Dilemma (named one of the ten best books of the year), which have garnered the attention of chefs nationwide to support locally and sustainably grown food. In Cleveland this movement has gained speed with activism by author Michael Ruhlman (Soul of a Chef) and Cleveland’s first completely green and sustainable restaurant, The Greenhouse Tavern, created by Chef John Sawyer.
Being originally from Cleveland this film hit close to my heart. I have seen the severity of depressed areas and watched communities fall. Food is one of the most basic human needs. Last year Cleveland passed an ordinance to designate areas for community farms that can only be rezoned by community vote. This is something that every city should enact. If they can’t give jobs to the poor, let the poor farm and feed themselves. Every one of our useless green lawns could be converted to gardens that can feed neighbors or be sold to restaurants. Think about it.
If you can see this film, do so. If you have a local farm market or CSA, buy from them. If you have community gardens, volunteer. You’ll be helping a lot of people eat better and stay healthy.