Friday, March 01, 2013
"A Place at the Table" How obesity and hunger coincide
“A Place at the Table” is the title of a well-known 1993 book by gay conservative writer Bruce Bawer. And now it is an important documentary, from Participant and Magnolia Pictures, directed by Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush, about hunger in America.
The main point of the film is that, ironically, obesity and hidden hunger are linked. The price of processed food has come down over the decades because of Congressional “pork barrel” subsidies to big agribusiness, where as the family farm, which produces a lot more fresh food, has dwindled, so that fresh food gets more expensive.
And many poorer neighborhoods are “food deserts”, in which major supermarkets with fresh foods cannot be found, but junk food at small convenience stores and gas stations is plentiful. All of these circumstances lead poor mothers with kids to stock up on junk.
I’ve noticed, when “on the road” with a rental car, that in some communities it is difficult to find the businesses you expect, even when you have the money to pay for normal consumer items.
The film concentrates on three communities: a town in western Colorado, northern Mississippi, and north Philadelphia. It shows the fried and fatty food that has, until recently, been served in most public school cafeterias.
The film also points out that only about 25% of American youth are fit to join the military.
The women and children in the poor neighborhoods looked bad. There was an eight year old who was grossly obese. Pet, like a particularly gregarious cat, provided some visual relief.
If you think about people who become publicly successful, most of them (especially younger media stars) are quite lean. (Chris Christie may be the outstanding exception.)
The official site is here.
One of the most graphic scenes in the film is that of a middle aged overweight man with type II diabetes showing his leg ulcers.
I saw the film before a nearly sold-out audience at Landmark E Street in Washington DC, Friday night early show., but a small auditorium