Catalyst House

Good Food – The Movie and The Movement

The documentary “Good Food” spotlights organic farming in America’s Pacific Northwest, if you’ve been paying any attention to the mood of consumers across this nation who are weary of contaminated food and wary of what’s in the meat, produce, eggs, and other food items they purchase in supermarkets, you may have noticed a quiet but profound revolution. In their landmark film, Melissa Young and Mark Dworkin are not merely offering the viewer just a few more hundred facts about our food supply, but rather, sharing an intimate portrait of an emotional, perhaps even spiritual movement that is burgeoning in the United States in search of heartfelt connections around a fundamental human need: eating.

From Carolyn Baker at

To examine the movie and the movement, consider that organic farming in the Pacific Northwest is increasing by 20-30% each year. Consider also that the number one cause of death among small farmers is suicide. Of course, the latter statistic is not unique to the United States. Physicist and activist, Vandana Shiva, has passionately pointed out the relationship between massive suicides among farmers in India and the amount of debt foisted on them by the influences of industrial agriculture in that nation. However, as David Suzuki in “Good Food” argues: The bill for large agriculture is coming due. I believe that it is coming due not only in terms of these suicides, but in a revolutionary demand for food that is grown locally and organically.

This is remarkable given that organic food just simply costs more. Not using pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals is more expensive, and organic farmers and markets assert that people need to get over the idea that local food should be cheap. But perhaps for the first time since the Great Depression and the Victory Gardens of World War II, people are beginning to make sacrifices in order to eat clean, local, nutritious food. Almost daily we are bombarded with studies that confirm that what we eat dramatically affects our bodies and minds, and unprecedented numbers of individuals are now willing to pay more in order to consume food that protects rather than infects.

Ron Sims, interviewed in “Good Food”, who works for King County Government in the Seattle area is adamant that what we eat is an enormous factor in our future health. If we want to reduce the number of people with diabetes and obesity, he says, we have to increase the accessibility of fresh foods in all of our neighborhoods. Thus for King County, eating local is a public health issue, and people are assigned to work on it all the time. Sims also notes that the Washington State Legislature is saying that schools should have preference for locally grown products. If current proposed legislation on this issue is passed, it would be monumental because kids would begin to know the taste of fresh food, rates of obesity would decrease, and a close relationship between local farmers and school districts would be formed which would also enhance King County’s economy.

Relationships created by the local food movement are central to its success. Throughout the documentary this theme runs like a red thread from farmers to markets to restaurants to consumers.

One part of the film focuses on the enormous role of Latino farmers and farm workers in producing our food. Hilario Alvarez of Alvarez Family Farms, famous for his jalapeno peppers, is very concerned about the health of his customers and does not want to grow any produce with pesticides or chemicals. Small organic farms are more labor intensive, the documentary reveals, and vast numbers of farm workers are required for planting, tending, and harvesting.


Catalyst House