Monday, April 2, 2012


I just finished watching this documentary, Think Global Act Rural. I watched it over several nights, as it's quite dense, thought-provoking material, and I watched it with English subtitles, which made my eyes tire out. But I definitely recommend it.

I think the most surprising thing that came up in the film for me is that growing crops and saving seeds was traditionally a woman's job in many cultures around the world. And more than one speaker in the film linked industrial agriculture's theft of seeds with patriarchy. I love the way this film connects several seemingly disparate issues. It's fascinating, and the speakers are all so well-spoken. I especially enjoyed Vandana Shiva.

Oh - and also Claude Bourguignon, one of the last soil microbiologists in France. He talks about how in the early 80s at university he started in agronomy but couldn't stand what the field was doing so he switched to soil microbiology where he was the only student. Shortly after her graduated, the entire department of soil microbiology shut down, a trend that he said happened around the world, so now there are no more soil microbiology departments. He says now anyone studying agriculture doesn't know that soil is alive.

Here is a trailer for the film.

I most definitely recommend it. More and more I'm starting to think that sustainable farming may be about the most radical thing a person can do.

My husband and I also watched Food Inc. a little while ago. I see its slogan is "You'll never look at dinner the same way again," and I'd have to say that was our experience. And I considered myself a pretty food savvy person. After watching it, the very next time we were at the Farmers' Market, we bought some pastured chicken and ground turkey. I'm seriously considering trying grass-fed beef, even though I haven't eaten beef in about 12 years. I have a friend who had similar gastrointestinal complaints after eating (corn-fed) beef but she said she recently was at a party with lots of grass-fed beef and she couldn't stop eating it and she didn't have any complaints afterward.

In addition to the startling information in the film, I liked that it portrayed all the farmers interviewed in a reasonable light. The only villains are the corporations driving all this crazy change. The chicken segment especially got me thinking about debt as a tool of social control. If you eat, you should watch it.

Edited to add:
I just did a little research on Vandana Shiva and wow! She studied philosophy here at Guelph! She's also a nuclear freakin' physicist! And she was recently here to receive an honorary degree. She also did an interview on CBC radio - definitely worth listening to.

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