Gallatin Eco-Food Fest: Food Inc. and Q n’ A with Director Robert Kenner

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FINALLY the Gallatin Eco-Food Fest had its kick-off event last night with a screening of the documentary Food Inc. and Q and A with director Robert Kenner, which had a solid turn-out despite the snow and hail. Food Inc., which came out in 2008, is a really important film about the state of our American food system. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a great starting point for anyone remotely interested in food issues. (And it’s available to watch on Netflix instant play!) Kenner covers the gastronomic gamut from politics to safety to genetic engineering. In a nutshell, the film is about unchecked capitalism and irresponsible corporate consolidation that plagues our food system.

In the Q and A that followed the screening, Kenner was refreshingly even-keeled and reasonable in his opinions. I asked Kenner if there was a place for a business like Walmart in the movement toward a more a sustainable food system. In the film, the section on Walmart’s organic initiative is the only place where Kenner’s voice through the lens is difficult to decipher; he doesn’t blatantly vilify the company as he does with others such as Monsanto. When asked about it, Kenner said that he still isn’t sure where to place himself on the corporate responsibility scale. He played both sides of the issue, saying that there is precedence for large companies like Walmart to be damaging under the guise of altruism, but that he can’t help but take the facts as they are: Walmart changed their practices as a response to consumer demand, and they have the industry clout to make influential changes that the government unfortunately does not. What do you think about the role of corporate power in the sustainable food movement?

Here’s a good interview with Kenner on the film via PBS video, April 2010:

Watch the full episode. See more POV.

In more Eco-Food Fest news: Unfortunately thanks to the snow, today’s Eco-Food Fest events were cancelled, including the inaugural Slow Food NYU lunch and screening of Yellow Bridge, a graduate student’s film about the consequences of large-scale banana farming in the Philippines and the Japanese market demand. We’re hoping to reschedule the event for either next week or sometime later in the semester, so stay tuned for more details! However, Friday’s Eco-Food Fest event is still on!! From 11AM-3PM, the lobby of the Gallatin building (1 Washington Place) will be turned into an open greenmarket for NYU students! There will be plenty of vendors and organizations including Kombucha Brooklyn, Little Cupcake Bakeshop, Hawthorne Valley Farm, Meatrix and Eat Well Guide (my old internship!), GrowNYC, and Slow Food NYU! So stop by, say hello, enjoy samples of homemade bread, and pick up more info on future Slow Food NYU events. ALSO, don’t miss my photo installation on the Contemporary American Farm Woman!


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