Nourish: Food + Community

Maureen Puffer-Rothenberg | Educational Media Reviews | February 22, 2010

Educational Media ReviewsKirk Bergstrom’s Nourish is a call to eat more consciously, in particular by choosing locally and organically grown produce. Bergstrom argues that global food supplies are threatened by climate change, food trends that are economically-driven but detrimental to land and consumer health, and threats to species now hunted for food. Healthier food consumption can begin at a grass-roots level to reverse this trend, support local food producers, preserve environmental resources, restore endangered species, and provide for undernourished populations.

Industrially-produced corn is contrasted with organically-grown heirloom tomatoes, highlighting the quality and nutritional value of the product, the economic impact of supporting small farmers, and environmental hazards of large-scale “monocrop” farming. The film points out that corn is often fed to cattle, or made into food additives like high-fructose corn syrup (the basis for many processed and fast foods), and looks at economic reasons why such foods are promoted to consumers.

Practical suggestions are offered for eating in ways that support health, the environment and local economies: start or support urban and school gardens, grown your own food, buy organic, locally-grown or fair-trade certified foods, become better informed by reading ingredient labels and learning where the food you buy comes from, and ask for healthier, more sustainable choices at work and at school.

Young people appear briefly to talk about their food choices and what food means to them. Actress Cameron Diaz provides narration; also featured are author and sustainability expert Anna Lappé and authors/chefs Michael Pollan and Bryant Terry.

Chapter selection is provided for the main film and for several two- or three-minute extras, in which Pollan explains why supermarkets shelve milk so far away from the front door, why a carrot costs more than a Twinkie, and how the typical American diet compares to that of other industrialized countries, and Terry talks about urban farms. Other shorts feature Chez Panisse restaurant founder Alice Waters visiting an elementary school garden, Dr. Nadine Burke on the impact of eating highly processed foods, and chef Jamie Oliver encouraging viewers to experiment in the kitchen, try new vegetables and use fresh herbs. A beautifully filmed presentation, Nourish quickly provides a lot of practical suggestions, inspiration and starting points for making food choices or asking questions about sustainable food production. Although apparently aimed at teens and college-age students (based on comments from that age group interspersed throughout) the film could certainly also be used with a more general audience. Recommended.

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