I never thought that much about where my food came from until I learned that the average American meal travels 1500 miles before it is eaten. You should wonder if something's wrong when your thanksgiving dinner is better-traveled than your entire family.
Through the making of this film I’ve found out that today’s agricultural system relies more on energy pumped from under the ground, than the sun that shines above it. Farms use oil at every stage of modern food production, from fertilizer and pesticide manufacturing, to fueling tractors, to the processing and transportation of the final product.
Oil reliance aside, I found out that the herbicides were finding their ways to streams and ground waters endangering our health and environment, while fertilizer run off’ has lead to the deterioration of large fisheries across the country and contributed to a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.
The more I learned, the more new questions I had. Sure, food used to be scary in a wow-that’s-a-lot-of-carbs-for-just-one-cookie kind of way, but now I had concerns more frightening than breaking the Atkins Diet.
What would happen during a drastic oil crisis? Is this really a time in history when we feel comfortable relying on the energy reserves of foreign nations simply to feed ourselves? What happens when farmers, who are already unable to make ends meet, face even higher cost? And how long until we’ve polluted too much of our ground water, or depleted too much of our top soil?
I started this documentary trying to get some answers to these questions, and find out if my future grandchildren would be saying "What’s for dinner?" or “What was dinner?”
To my relief it turns out that there are actually more rational responses than investing your entire life savings in canned chili, or quitting your job to start a trout hatchery. In fact, there are a multitude of sound solutions and exciting initiatives taking places all over the country.
As can be expected though, these ideas and actions are incredibly distinct, and often contradictory to each other. One former U.S. Department of State agricultural analyst suggests turning to genetically modified grains (GMOs), trusting science and technology to solve the problems we’re facing. That same analysts’ neighbor, a self-described “Christian, environmentalist, libertarian, capitalist” raises cattle and other animals, as he puts it, “beyond organically,” and suggests the only real answer is to fully free ourselves from government oversight so we can truly choose what to eat.
It’s hard to know who’s got the right answer, but one thing’s for sure: I’m no longer “not thinking” about where my food comes from. I’m on a trip to find out.