Thursday, Aug. 20, 2009

Eating Where We Live

By David Luhrssen
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Grow local, eat local is the theme of PolyCultures, an inspiring, intelligently conceived documentary against agribusiness and for healthy, sustainable ways of eating and living. Filmed in Cleveland and the surrounding Ohio countryside, PolyCultures takes its name from the ecologically sound imperative of raising diverse crops and livestock on the same farm fields. The happy-looking pigs and chickens shown romping on those fields form an upbeat counterpart to their sad cousins from the recent agribusiness documentary, Food, Inc.

PolyCultures investigates a growing network of small farms and the food coops they supply, all of them dedicated to more organic farming and building closed systems as hedges against corporate globalization. The farms have stepped away from dependence on petrochemicals and heavy equipment for a more hands on agriculture. Topsoil and biodiversity is being restored. There is a sense, in watching the mostly young people working the land, of tending the earth rather than ransacking it. The animals play their role, fertilizing the ground as they roam the land.

The author of The Omnivores Dilemma, Michael Pollan, uses Cleveland’s City Fresh project to show that good eating is necessarily elitist and reserved for the comfortably well off. City Fresh is a coop whose affluent members pay more for their shares to subsidize the membership of their poorer neighbors. City Fresh is making headway educating an impoverished urban population living in “food deserts” without supermarkets and little but fast food and convenience stores for sustenance.

PolyCultures will be screened one time only, 1 a.m., Aug. 22, at the Times Cinema.

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