New documentary explores local food movement

Too often are there announcements of contaminated food in our meat and produce sections from large scale farming practices that have been the source of outbreaks of food-borne illness. That’s why it’s more important than ever to start thinking about and creating better and more local, sustainable and healthier food systems in America.

On Friday, Oct. 12 at 7:00 p.m., the Downtown Ypsilanti District Library will be featuring a documentary, through a collaborative effort of the Ypsilanti Food Co-op, Transition Town Ypsilanti and Growing Hope, called “Ingredients: A Seasonal Exploration of the Local Food Movement,” which explores the local food movement throughout the country.

Through the perspective of local farmers, chefs and community members from around the country, the documentary highlights various aspects of how the local food movement has been changing the food system little by little, and more importantly how it is changing the community landscape and thought about food access.

With successful models of sustainable agriculture, these communities show that it is more than possible to live within a local food system that provides a range of products as well as strengthening local economies and community engagement and involvement with food.

It’s not just a way for a community to share through food, but to reconnect with the farmer and gain an understanding of where their food came from, how it was taken care of, how long it took to grow and that it came from down the road, not 3,000 miles away.

One of the founders of the film series and previous board member of both the Ypsilanti Food Co-op and Growing Hope, Lisa Bashert, has been active in the local food movement since she was a child working on her sister’s farm. It wasn’t until about 1996 when she became more aware of food access and policy.

“At that time, I was really becoming aware of how my food choices were in conflict with my values of caring for the earth and justice,” Bashert said.

“Now, it seems that people are just beginning to realize how much the grassroots urban agriculture movement in Detroit is shaping and influencing how people view their local ‘foodshed,’ what is possible and what a ‘pastoral city’ might look like in the future. I think Ypsi has utilized a lot of tools pioneered in Detroit.”

From a variety of food accessed through Community Supported Agriculture and food cooperatives, community members can now be directly involved with the farmer for their food through the CSA or have access through the co-op to locally grown produce and locally made products that wouldn’t otherwise be available at a regular supermarket.

As a CSA or co-op member, individuals are paying a share into the farm or co-op and essentially funding the operations.

In return from CSA, members receive their share of seasonal crops on a weekly basis that can be picked up at the farmers market their farmer participates in. As a co-op member, a membership entitles an individual to discounts and special orders that are not offered to regular paying customers.

Aside from Bashert’s current involvement with the Ypsi Food Co-op, she has been a member and supporter since 1986.

“I think the Ypsi Food Co-op has definitely been influential on me. The co-op has shaped my thinking and allowed me to learn more about our food system, especially justice issues involved with fair-trade, organics, and local food,” Bashert said.

Although CSAs and co-ops are important ways to local food access, many organizations around the country participate and center their missions around providing healthy food access and resources into areas that otherwise wouldn’t have that access.

The film,“Ingredients,” stresses how important the local health movement is in regarding social and environmental justice, equality and access to the same resources across the spectrum. The movement is less about food than it is about the positive impact it has on the environment, local economies and a better way of living for our communities and for our future.

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