But as I started watching, the words "Food Fight" took on a completely different meaning. We've literally travelled a full circle where initially, our food production was more locally grown and the freshness and the flavor of our produce was paramount. Then it changed and became more about subsidizing big business where the goal became more about food at a cheaper price, which also resulted in food that was as far from its natural state as you can possibly get. This was a price that in the end wasn't so cheap because consumers paid for it in obesity, diabetes and other health issues. Cheap food? Yes. Rising health care costs? A bigger YES!
In the 70s, things started changing in the form of Chef Alice Waters of Chez Panisse, who in her search for produce that tasted the way it was intended, fresh and bursting with flavor, literally created her own food chain away from larger retail grocery chains. This food chain consisted of local farmers supplying her with fruits and vegetables grown in the areas around her Berkeley restaurant, literally picked a day or so before hitting her kitchen ready to be made into tasty dishes, using ingredients that her customers have never even heard of, even though many were grown literally in their own backyard.
This revolution spread down to Southern California where Chef Wolfgang Puck took the baton and also ran with the whole concept of focusing on local produce to create changing seasonal menus year round. With him slowly becoming a celebrity chef at the time, the notion of California Cuisine as was started by Chef Waters started getting more national recognition through his efforts. There's definitely a lot more to this story than I can describe here, but as you can see, we have come full circle.
These days, farmer's markets have popped up all over the United States. Home cooks are following the same sensibilities of today's chefs and seeing and tasting the value of buying produce directly from local farmers. It's a wave and hopefully, it's a wave that will gain the strength and the momentum to make big government see the importance the food we eat and how it can truly contribute to the health of its people.
To find out more info, check out the links below:
If you'd like to actually see the documentary for yourself, there's a free AFI screening in Hollywood on November 8th, 2008 3:15pm at the Mann Chinese 6 on Hollywood Blvd. If you are not in Los Angeles or can't attend the screening, then click here to join the Facebook group to get updates of future screenings.