February 22, 2010

Film Director Advises Organic Eating

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In front of a packed Statler Auditorium last night, Cornell’s Society for Natural Resource Conservation presented director Chris Taylor’s documentary Food Fight and hosted a food reception with fresh locally grown foods courtesy of the Greenstar Co-Operative Market, the Ithaca Bakery, the Giving Tree Cafe, Cornell Orchards, and Red Newt Winery and Bistro. Taylor was present at the reception to chat with the audience and answer questions about his film.

The documentary details the history of food policy as a story of corporate and governmental cooptation of nutritious and flavorful food in favor of cheap ubiquitous supply. With testimonials from industry experts, congressmen, nutrition professionals, and food activists, Taylor contends that public policy based around farm commodity profits resulted in mass industrialization, which led to the obesity epidemic that the country now faces.

“I wanted to make a film that historically surveys American food culture so people could see the steps –– most of which were taken with good intentions –– that led us to create a dysfunctional food system that is making our population sick,” Taylor explained.

Taylor said that he intentionally chose Cornell as a destination to present his documentary.

“Cornell is a special destination because of its status as a land-grant institution and its position as a leader in agricultural curriculum in the U.S.,” Taylor stated.

He noted the Hotel school’s contribution to the organic and locally-grown food market.

“Also, what many people do not realize is how important hospitality dollars are to the ongoing revolution in organic food and Farmer’s Markets,” Taylor said, “Food Fight is the only current film that covers this aspect of the food economy, and with the Hotel School here, that is also a natural audience that I could not reach any other place except Cornell …”

Students in attendance praised the documentary.

“I don’t have a lot of knowledge on the subject, but [Food Fight] definitely got its point across. I’m a new student at Cornell and looking at conservation and sustainability, so I wanted to check out local events and this was perfect,” Dean Gamache ’11 said.

Representatives from Cornell’s Society for Natural Resource Conservation said that they wanted to sponsor the event in order to promote organic and healthy eating.

“We are hoping to raise awareness about the importance of supporting a local food market. It is a lot more sustainable, healthier, beneficial to local communities, and tastes so much better,” said Ileana Betancourt ’12, vice president of SNRC.

After the film showing, Chris Taylor and local food advocates like Joanna Green from the Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming, Brian Caldwell, and Elizabeth Karabinakis answered questions from the audience.

According to Elizabeth Karabinakis, from the Cornell Cooperative Extension and a founding member of Greenstar Co-Operative Market, Ithaca and the Finger Lakes region is fast becoming a unique culinary destination for organic food.

The documentary has won numerous awards since its debut in 2008.

Original Author: Jing Jin