Fresh, a documentary about the food system and sustainable agriculture, is screening this week at the Quad Cinema as part of the “Let’s Retake Our Plates" film series through April 15. The film was released in 2009, just two weeks before Food, Inc. — but with lesser fanfare. Fresh launches in theaters nationwide this month, coupled with special food events (Mario Batali will be at a Q&A at the Quad on Thursday). Fans of Food, Inc. will recognize key characters like exuberant Virginia farmer Joel Salatin, made famous in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and Milwaukee’s Will Allen, the basketball player turned urban farmer and MacArthur “genius” award recipient. We spoke to director and producer Ana Sofia Joanes about picking up where Food, Inc. left off.
At first I was very much focused on all kinds of innovations happening in many different fields. Then it became obvious that food is a microcosm of all of the problems: the reliance on oil, the exploitation, the environmental destruction, etc. It’s an incredible showcase of what can go right and how innovative and grassroots, democratic, creative, and vibrant change can be and look like. It’s also a really intimate and visual subject.
Some of the farmers and experts in Fresh were also in Food, Inc. What's different about the two films?
People left Food, Inc. feeling frightened and not knowing what to eat anymore. My film is an answer to that. Fresh is very much part two of Food, Inc. It’s very much its own movie, but Fresh addressed people wanting to feel connected, needing to feel that there is meaning in what they do.
Is locavorism just a trend?
If you look at how incredibly vibrant the local-food movement is it’s hard to believe that it’s only a trend, because it is growing at such a speed and with such energy. In the last few years it’s grown exponentially. We’re no longer weird hippies. We’re mainstream. It’s represented in our White House. At this point you would really have to work hard to be cynical.