Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What's On Your Plate?

Directed by Catherine Gund
Produced by Tanya Selvaratnam
Co-produced by Sadie Rain Hope-Gund and Safiyah Kai Russell Riddle
With animation by Hubbub Inc.: Emily Hubley and Jeremiah Dickey
Color, documentary, 73 minutes
All ages

Upcoming screening:

BAM Cinemafest/Afro-Punk Opening Night Outdoor Screening
Saturday, June 27th, 6:00 pm

I show my kids a lot of documentaries—more than they want to see, frankly. So when I pulled What's On Your Plate? out of the envelope and said, "It's about food!" my son put on his blah face. "I've seen a ton of that stuff. I know." He's used to home cooking, CSAs, the backyard garden (even if a groundhog has kept it from coming up this year), he knows everything there is to know about healthy eating. But when the rest of the family popped it in and started watching, he came in and got hooked.

Co-produced and 'hosted' by two 7th-grade girls, Sadie and Safiyah, who live and eat in New York City, What's On Your Plate? welcomes a kids-eye view of food politics. School lunches, family farming, the mystery treat "Funyuns," and diet-related diseases are some of the topics, but the 'girl guides' leading the exploration, Sadie and Safiyah, bring humor and energy that keep the material from being dry or didactic, and so do their lively interview subjects—chefs, food activists, and farmers. Director Gund has no wish to feed us a lot of talking heads—she'd rather follow the girls as they amble through the city, visit the Angels, a Mexican farming family, or select cucumbers at their CSA. You get to watch people eat a lot. And Sadie and Safiyah don't shrink from asking the heads of food for NYC schools why Snapple is considered a suitable beverage to be serving kids from machines. "They don't have to drink it," one says.

I think one reason my kids found What's On Your Plate? interesting is that it talks about what happens when the food we see being grown around us—in Ulster County, two hours north of the city—reaches New York City. How do city residents get to know farmers? How does farm-fresh food get distributed to schools? How do people go about changing what's on their plate?

1 comment:

Margot Magowan said...


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