“Eat your vegetables.” I sound just like my mother when I say it and I’m sure my four kids will one day sound like me. Home is the first and foremost place we learn about food. So I figure the more my kids know about why it’s important to eat well, the more likely they are to do the right thing. As my daughter Sadie makes more of her own decisions about what to eat, when, where, and with whom, I ask myself more questions about what she knows, what she chooses, what is best for her, and why she puts so much sugar on her oatmeal.
I’m making “What’s On Your Plate?” with Sadie because the time is now for parents and children to learn the real deal about the weakest links in our food chain. Most of our food is so processed that we can’t pronounce the long list of ingredients. On average, our food is trucked over 1,500 miles before we bite into it. And seeds are engineered to die out after one season in order to ensure corporate control of the food chain. In this environment, how can any of us feel a harmonious, life-affirming connection to what we eat?
Kids need to know the full benefits of local food: more energy-efficient production, more prosperous farmers, healthier communities, longer lasting and better tasting fruits and veggies. Kids need to know that their food doesn’t only come from the supermarket or the factory, but from nearby farms, trees and the ground. Adults need to be empowered to share this information with the next generation.
My family is caught in the urban food web, and we do what we can to be better consumers. We’ve joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). We shop at farmers markets. We compost with the help of a few thousand worms right in the comfort of our own apartment. Yet it isn’t enough. Our friend John is the same age as I am 42 years old and he had a heart attack over Christmas. Roger just found out he has type II diabetes like Maureen. And Scot struggles with high cholesterol, just like Sadie. What could have helped them avoid these life-threatening experiences? What changes can they make now? What can we do as a community to stop these epidemics? My goal with “What’s On Your Plate?” is to address the shortcomings of our awareness about the relationships between food, its origins and our quality of life.
These days, when I tell my kids to eat their veggies, I also have to tell them that I am willing to fight for their opportunity to do so. This film represents a part of that work.