Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Fresh, and Food Inc. – Two Movie Reviews in One

Fresh and Food, Inc Movie Review Coordinator

In the past week, we’ve seen both of these documentaries. They are both about our food supply, industrial farming, and safe food.  One is Fresh and the other Food, inc.  Fresh we bought on DVD and Food, inc is playing at our local movie theatre. I took the kids. Links are below.

There are a lot of similarities in the movies so I’m reviewing them together.  They are about how monocultures (growing just one crop) is environmentally dangerous and how industrialized food has lead to unhealthy, over-processed food and abused and neglected animals. My cousin, who lives near a cow CAFO, (Concentrated animal feeding operation) calls it, Cowchwitz, which unfortunately it is for the poor cows who live there.

Both movies have soy and corn farmers who don’t use GMO’s (Monsanto’s genetically engineered seed).  These conventional farmers are a vast minority these days and Monsanto is suing them anytime their field get contaminated by Monsanto’s products. Monsanto is also suing the seed cleaners and putting them out of business so even the people who want to grow and save their own non-GMO seed have no one to clean it anymore.  It’s unconscionable.

Fresh had Michael Pollan (who’s also in Food, inc) discussing how CAFO’s are creating manure lagoons that are toxic waste fields of animal manure, filled with antibiotics, pharmaceuticals, and hormones that leaches into the water supply. These toxic conditions are causing not only local pollution,  but has lead to outbreaks of e-coli in spinach, peanut butter and other foods.

Both movies also feature segments with Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms, one of my personal heroes, because he is farming in a safe, ecological and sustainable way.  In Fresh, he discussed how Mad Cow disease has come about from the  CAFO practice, of feeding cows other dead and diseased animals.  Cow are herbivores, and only supposed to eat grass, not corn, and certainly not dead animals.

Faster, bigger, cheaper is the motto of industrial agriculture. The cheap corn and soy that are fed to animals in this country are subsided by our tax dollars. I think those dollars would be better spent subsidizing cheap fruit, vegetables and organic and sustainable food.  Andrew Kimbrell of the Center for Food Safety, said it’s now been scientifically proven that a mid-sized organic farm can produce more and safer food then their agribusiness counterpart.  He also said these agribusiness farms have cost us 90% of our crop and animal diversity and lost more then 14% of our topsoil, through the use of non-sustainable methods.

The amazing thing is that 70% of the row crops that are grown in the U.S. are not for human consumption but for the animals that can’t digest them.

I liked both movies but have to say that I did like Fresh better.  The topics are similar but Fresh held more of a positive message about what we can do to stop this; eat local, eat organic, shop at your local farmer’s market.  Food, inc, while also having the same message, had a number of very disturbing scenes of confined animals being mistreated and slaughtered.  Fresh had a few confinement scenes also but it was balanced with many scenes of what real farming and husbandry should be.

On the other hand, my 17 year old son said he liked Food, inc. better, because it clearly said this is not an acceptable way to treat animals as well as the humans that had to work with them. Food, inc. did provide more detail of how terribly the workers are treated in industrial food production.  They are both good, and highly recommended movies.

The overall message, and the message of us here at is the same:  Eat Local, Eat Organic, Eat safe, fresh food for you, and your family. As more of us do this, the system will have to change.

You can read more great posts about real food, on Fight Back Friday here,

Links to buy:


The Book that Changed our Lives

I have been studying nutrition and eating healthfully since high school. I remember 30 years ago telling my mother that we should be using butter and not margarine. She didn’t believe me. 🙂

I have been a vegetarian, a vegan, and macrobiotic at different times in my life, trying to find a diet that really worked for me. When my kids were born our diet changed to home cooked meats (mostly fish & chicken), vegetables and grain, mostly healthy with occasional processed food. We were doing okay until I started having some serious health challenges, stemming from the California fires of 2003. I started having serious lung problems that got even worse from a subsequent smoke inhalation. I tried everything from the steroids prescribed by my doctor to homeopathy – I’m trained as a homeopath and did experience some relief from remedies but not enough – and also tried acupuncture, herbs, etc. I was still not doing well. At the same time my husband was experiencing a recurrence of sinus problems that he hadn’t had in years.

We were searching for something that would help us regain our health. I was browsing cookbooks on and found Nourishing Traditions.  It looked really interesting and after reading the reviews, I bought it. We both read it through and it made good sense, we decided to tweak our eating habits. We started making broths from scratch, started making real kefir (from real, raw, whole milk) and kombucha, and we stopped using vegetable oils (esp Canola as it’s made from genetically modified seed) and switched to olive oil, butter and coconut oil.

Within a few months of making those changes both of us experienced a noticeable improvement in our health and day-to-day energy.  I was able to slowly wean off of my inhalers and my husband’s sinuses improved. Our energy greatly improved – and we are both in/near our 50’s.

It’s over 600 pages of research, food information and recipes. The book is laid out with the basic nutritional information – and it’s NOT what we’ve been told before – in the front. Then comes all the recipes with sidebars through out detailing information and research to go along with them. And the recipes are terrific too, for everything from home made stocks, to fish, meat, vegetables, grains, desserts and beverages. There’s a lot of wonderful information on fermented foods and tonics. We now make kefir and kombucha but there are more I’d like to try.  I can’t recommend this book enough, it’s truly a life changer.



Buy it at Amazon – click the book pic  (affiliate link – we make a few cents that helps keep our site running)

All in This Tea – Movie Review

We saw a terrific movie this weekend. It’s about tea, the power of one person to help make real change and worms.

All in This Tea is about tea importer, David Lee Hoffman. He spent a decade during his twenties traveling around Asia and developed a love of good tea. The documentary follows his travels in China as he tries to encourage the farmers to give up their recent addition of chemical farming and go back to the traditional and organic methods of growing tea. Those methods were lost once the Cultural Revolution arrived, as the farmers started growing for quantity over quality.  As is happening on our farms here — after the initial boost in crops you get from chemical fertilizers, crop production lessens, and soil quality depletes.

As he tries to describe more natural fertilizers to the Chinese officials, David discusses earthworms, and worm castings (droppings), which are one the most wonderful fertilizers available today. We use them in our garden and whenever we put fresh castings on, everything has a wonderful growth spurt. I was happy to see worms and organic methods discussed as we are trying to encourage our farmers here in the U.S. to move away from chemical fertilizer too.

As he winds his way through China’s tea bureaucracy, he found that the companies don’t want to deal directly with the farmers, including those craftsmen who produce the finest teas.  Mr. Hoffman decides to travel through the country finding exactly the teas he prefers, buying them directly from the farmers and then he had to deal with the red tape of getting them shipped to the U.S. There’s also small segments with different people teaching classes about tea and it’s history, that’s very interesting.

David succeeded on his mission of encouraging more organic tea farming, and buying directly from farmers. It was inspiring to see how much change could be brought; by one determined man.

This is a wonderful, almost meditative movie. Watching the beautiful countryside where tea is grown, seeing how the different teas are made and tasted. I think the movie should come with tea!  We couldn’t wait to make a special cup of green tea right after we watched.

To read other great blogs about saying No to GMO’s click here,


The Corporation – movie review

We saw the corporation last weekend, for the second time, and it’s such an amazing movie and a must see movie!  You can buy it from  or Netflix carries it and there are clips on YouTube.

I really knew much less then I thought I did about corporations, how they came into being and why they’re not ideal –  to say the least! –  for social responsibility.  It’s a long movie and the first 15 minutes is a bit chaotic – make sure you watch past it – because once the intro is over it gets into the issue in a very understandable and entertaining way.  The film has many wonderful cameos including Howard Zinn, Michael Moore and Vandana Shiva, who we wrote about a few blog posts ago. It’s highly recommended and even our teenager watched this one with us.

There’s also a very informative section about Monsanto and gmo food.

Here’s the info from their site:

WINNER OF 26 INTERNATIONAL AWARDS! 10 Audience Choice Awards including the 2004 Sundance Film Festival.

Provoking, witty, stylish and sweepingly informative, THE CORPORATION explores the nature and spectacular rise of the dominant institution of our time. Part film and part movement, The Corporation is transforming audiences and dazzling critics with its insightful and compelling analysis. Taking its status as a legal “person” to the logical conclusion, the film puts the corporation on the psychiatrist’s couch to ask “What kind of person is it?” The Corporation includes interviews with 40 corporate insiders and critics – including Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Milton Friedman, Howard Zinn, Vandana Shiva and Michael Moore – plus true confessions, case studies and strategies for change.

“AN OVERWHELMING AMOUNT OF OUTSTANDING EXTRAS, there is basically another 6-hour (!) documentary included.” MovieFreak

Along with the groundbreaking 145-minute theatrical version of the film, the two-disc DVD has eight hours of never-before-seen footage. In addition to two commentary tracks, deleted scenes, and Q’s-and-A’s, 165 new clips and updates are sorted “by person” and “by topic.” Get the details you want to know on the issues you care about. Then, check out the web links for follow-up research and action.

THE CORPORATION is Canada’s most successful documentary… EVER!

The film is based on the book The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power by Joel Bakan.

Here’s their site:

Movie Review – The Future of Food

The Future of Food documents what is currently going on with the food supply in the US. Monsanto, a multinational corporation who was formerly in the pesticide business (agent orange, ddt) is now one of the biggest seed suppliers in the world. And not just any seed, it’s genetically engineered for a number of purposes.

Monsanto has been suing farmers who have not bought seed from them but end up with it growing in their fields from no fault of their own. In one very well known case a farmer, Percy Schmeiser, was told by his neighbor that the neighbor’s truck had a hole it’s tarp and a lot of Monsanto’s’ ’round up ready’ seed was dumped on his field. Monsanto tried to sue him (and many other farmers – google and you’ll see links to many of the cases) and he spent his life savings fighting them. He just recently won his case after 10 years!

The film has wonderful and informative interviews with Andrew Kimbrell, director of the center for Food Safety, Fred Kirshenman, a well known sustainable farmer, and a number of experts and scientists who document first off how GE food was pushed on the American people with no disclosure and no testing as well as the devastating potential for destruction with messing with our food supply for profit.

There’s a lot we can do. Support small farmers and farmers market’s. Join a community supported agriculture program where you get a box of fresh from the field organic fruits and vegetables each week. We also need to demand labeling. Right now we don’t know which foods we buy are genetically altered and which aren’t. If our food is labeled we can make informed choices.