Friday, January 17, 2014
"Eating Alabama": a local man returns home and tries sustainable local living and farming, and finds the big companies have outrun him
In the 62-minute 2012 documentary “Eating Alabama: A Story About Why Food Matters,” 35-year old Andrew Grace and his wife Rashmi return to rural Alabama and try to see if, as proof of a sustainability concept, it is possible to live off the land and eat only what is produced locally, like their ancestors had. So this film is neither “Eating Raoul” nor “Sweet Home Alabama”.
And there is the film “At Any Price”, reviewed here May 3, 2013, where a legal problem was presented, where Monsanto and maybe other companies would sue farmers to kept the seeds of patented beans and then planted them. One farmer presented in this film had the same experience, and went bankrupt.
As the film opens, Grace is hunting, and he introduces the idea of killing what you eat (a practice that Mark Zuckerberg has tried). He then tells the story of the past year as flashback.
The film presents the process by which large companies have gradually taken over agriculture, and driven out smaller farmers who don’t produce the volume.
Grace shows how difficult it is to bake bread from scratch, how much hustling you would have to do for all the ingredients.
There are many scenes of “Southern Comfort”, that is cookouts and neighborly gatherings, even a rural jazz fest.
ITVS offers a video extra (5 min).
The film is shot all over Alabama. The hills and low mountains of the northeast are shown, but most of the state looks pancake flat. In Birmingham, the film shows some urban gardens, which have replaced older homes.
The official site is here.
The filmmaker once mentions the history of slavery. One of the farmers says something like, “We don’t think about the meaning of our lives the way our lawyers do.”
I rented the film from Amazon.
Wikipedia attribution link for Cahaba River.