For all you foodies, farmers, wanna be farmers, chefs and wanna be chefs… you NEED to see Ingredients. It was my most anticipated film of CIFF ’10… and that was when I was still skeptical about it the film. From the trailer above, I expected another preachy film like Food, Inc. or worse, another Fast Food Nation. But I understand the utility of the shock and awe factor… or the “gross me out so I don’t want to eat ground beef for a week” factor. But I was VERY happy to see that producer Brian Kimmel took a different angle… glorifying and promoting the local food movement. Kimmel achieved this by championing those most passionate about the subject; the growers, ranchers and chefs. The best part of the film was that I left the theater craving some fresh, local cooking!
The film creatively follows the seasons of the growing year to exemplify the fact that there is fresh, local produce available year round. Kimmel subtly and artfully utilizes the seasons themes showing beautiful shots of vibrant vegetable and fruits in their proper local harvesting seasons (I recommend watching it with HD projection… I swear that I could taste it). Furthermore, the locations which are showcased are all northern cities which actually experience a full cycle of seasons; including Portland, New York and Huron, OH (right outside our our wonderful city).
As the seasons progress, the local producers and chefs explain the local food movement and describe the barriers they are facing and those of the future. Kimmel did a wonderful job of bringing the focus not just to what you are eating, but where it came from and how it got on your plate. In this way, the true heroes of food were highlighted, the local, independent farmers and ranchers. As Food Network has brought fame to chefs, Ingredients successfully made superstars out of farmers.
The film forum:
After the film I was lucky enough to participate in a film forum mediated by NPR Idea Stream’s Eric Welman and featuring Brian Kimmel and some local experts, including Farmer Lee Jones of Chef’s Garden (Huron, OH). The film forum was part of CIFF’s Lights! Camera! Action Steps! program, which promotes acting upon what was learned in the film in order to create real change… I guess this is my action step.
The forum very informative and really strengthened the items discussed in the film. Also, Farmer Lee Jones was quite entertaining and the most articulate farmer I’ve seen… especially his emotional diatribe about asparagus. FYI asparagus is great, Farmer Jones loves it, but it’s not in season… DAMN IT! (Farmer fist slam). Quite coincidentally, he also came into the theater and, quite loudly, grabbed a seat in the row in front of me… as he was up on the screen talking about his farm… I was like “I know that guy!!”
On a more serious note, I learned a lot about local food and farming from the film. I also got to ask the last question of the forum, addressing Kimmel. I asked him about his culinary experiences as he produced the film and how it has changed his habits, and he responded with something that surprised me. After acquiring the love of local food and picking up info and techniques of all the farmers, he began a seasonal garden at his home. It is a trend which has caught on with his neighbors. Go local food!!
Lessons that I learned:
- There are winter farmers markets in Cleveland; including the Coit Road Market and Kamm’s Corners
- Asparagus is not in season… this was adamantly expressed by Farmer Lee Jones (but they gave out samples of watermelon radishes and lime radishes which are in season… and they were the best F-ing radishes I’ve ever had)
- 5% of fossil fuel energy consumed in the US is due to food production
- One of the first US vineyards was near Cleveland due to Lake Erie micro-climate
- The 1 thing all local farmers agrees on is to get rid of government subsidies
- “You shouldn’t be buying garlic that is shipped thousands of miles between sex toys and flip flops.”
My Action Steps: