Friday, June 28, 2013

Movie Review: A Place at the Table

When I'm not busy doing stuff around my house, I like to watch movies.  I had the opportunity the other night to watch A Place at the Table.

The movie was a real eye opener.  It's a documentary that explores hunger in America.  Fifty million Americans suffer from food insecurity.  What's food insecurity?  It's not knowing where your next meal is going to come from.  It's having to go without food for a time, maybe even days.  There were kids in the film who sometimes only ate at school because there was no food at home.  It's very sad.

The film spent plenty of time criticizing the Federal government for cutting food assistance programs in the 1980's and for not increasing funds in recent years.  The cost of food has risen, but the assistance provided has not. 

There was some criticism (but not enough) directed at the agriculture subsidies that go to big corporations.  Those subsidies are directly responsible for creating cheap processed foods that these low income people eat to survive.  This has a direct impact on their health.  They dispelled the popular belief that hungry people aren't fat.  It's actually quite the opposite.  People who suffer from food insecurity are likely to be obese.

This is a rare documentary in that they actually offered a solution.  In true Hollywood fashion they said that all that needed to be done was for Congress to take charge and spend more money!  And this is my complaint about the movie.  I know it's a tire old cliche, but it's true.  Give a man a fish he eats for a day.  Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.   

At no time in the movie did anyone suggest that people need to become more independent and more self sufficient.  The people interviewed had a victim mentality.  They lost a job and needed government assistance to get by.  Then they got a job, but it didn't pay enough to buy adequate food.  It also meant that they had an income and no longer qualified for government assistance.  So they were not better off.  I get that.  I feel bad for them.  I really do.  But what does it take to get people to take matters into their own hands? 

Not everyone can keep chickens in their back yard.  I get that.  But, seeds are cheap.  Grow something!  Even urban dwellers can grow tomatoes in a window box.  Find a park or other green space, and do some guerrilla gardening.  Talk to neighbors and start a community garden.  Grow stuff on your roof.  There are a lot of options.  I just takes a little resourcefulness.  

I can't tell other people what to do.  What I can do is take care of myself and my family.  Watching that film as given me the motivation to do more.  I want to put in more raised beds.  I want to harvest more rain water.  I want to get more chickens, and maybe some other animals as well.  I don't ever want to be in the position of not knowing where my next meal will come from.

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