Friday, February 8, 2013

'A Place At The Table' - Will it Match the Magnitude of 'Food, Inc.'?

"From the team that brought you Food, Inc. The film that asks why 50 million Americans live on the brink of hunger."

Heather Callaghan
Activist Post

It's sometimes still hard to believe that the fattest nation on Earth, America, has a huge hunger problem - those are the reality of the times, and there's ample reason for it. Some of those issues revolving around large farm complexes, subsidies and the processed food companies were discussed in Food, Inc.

A Place At The Table appears to tug heartstrings by focusing on 3 small families that struggle to feed themselves amid a bigger picture of hunger, poverty, and malnutrition. It features actor Jeff Bridges, founder of End Hunger Network and celebrity chef Tom Colicchio.

The PG-rated documentary that made Sundance Film's 2012 selection will be available in select theaters March 1 - here is one trailer:

Additional details and commentary below...

The film is getting dim reviews by critics who saw it when the film was called Finding North in its Sundance phase. They point out inconsistencies like the single mom working hard through college but can't feed her kids, yet she has a Blackberry phone and gets her hair done thoughout. Maybe in other countries our problem looks like a priority one? Alternately, by zeroing in on personal lives, it can make one feel empathetic, maybe relatable.

On the one hand the film would appear to hint at the plummeting economy and government policy as a big problem, not so much the availability of food. Another big issue is access to affordable fresh foods - and the malnutrition from cheap and easy processed foods contributing to obesity, also a form of starvation from malnourishment. But critics, especially overseas ones, found the back-and-forth visuals of impoverished Americans with morbidly obese ones confusing and insulting.

On the other hand, images in the trailer of going to the federal level and joining forces with Michelle Obama were stomach-turning. I understand that well-intentioned celebrity chefs can raise a lot of awareness when their message is welcomed on popular talk shows and praised by the administration. But, it made me want to go back to focusing on problems with authority like those raised in Farmaggeddon with the attack on small farms. If farms that provide local fresh foods are laid waste by the FDA gestapo - how can we hope to help malnutrition and hunger at the local level? If people get arrested for feeding the homeless, how can we be free to help our fellow man? If front-yard gardens are illegal, uprooted, and growers are threatened with jail and fines, then it would appear our government is only dangling the carrot and mightily pleased with hunger.

Food banks are closing and struggling to feed the growing amount of the hungry left in the dust from job loss - what can we do about that? The families fortunate enough to keep jobs struggle to feed their own and it's becoming harder to give. Will the film say "Hey, grow your own, People! Hug your farmers!" or will it simply stress giving till it kills us and say "Hey, let's write letters to Congress and make our government pay, - it's free!"

Does A Place at the Table go over anything we don't already know? If it doesn't address the devaluing of our dollar and a do-able solution for struggling families, then I probably don't want to hear about it. If it doesn't point fingers at a deliberate engineering of a "food crisis," then I'd rather keep that 90 minutes emotionally stable and steeped in other research like meal planning and finding inexpensive ways to buy or raise organic. If they offer better ways to access fresh local without government interference, I'm listening.

Another criticism implicated in projects like these which propel celebrities to the forefront is - can more commercialism help with corporate commercialism problems? Perhaps to remain positive, it's best to look at those ventures like the MD who concedes to any therapy that helps his patient - as long as it helps.

So will A Place At The Table spawn the type of activism and awareness that rose steadily in the five years following Food, Inc.'s release? The documentary thinks it has a solution that we can all stand behind - I'm not so sure. The exact How-To's of that solution remain to be seen in select theaters starting March 1.

Movie Website
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APATT Facebook Page
Soundtrack Info

Read other articles by Heather Callaghan Here


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Anonymous said...

An establishment effort at damage control.
It will tug at our heart strings and lead us away from blaming big agri-business and the banks.

Hide Behind said...

I oft wonder why so much is made of a single mothers hardships in supporting herself and a kid or two when men of my generation worked and supported a family of 4 or more we did it without foodstamps and childcare drop offs paid for by others.
We did not get a tax break and check inmail for being head of households, subsidized medical lights and rent.
Many of us went to school after work to gain skils for a better life and paid the school expenses out of our own pockets.
We raised kids that knew how to work and save towards their own education and mothers and fathers skrimped and saved as well to aid them for the day we could say our child just graduated.
Today mom and pop live beyond their mrans and place their kids in the same catagory to borrow in order to go to school and have all their toys while doing so.
Mom and pop got extravagent homes with all the trimmings but let a kid get prensnt with. No dad around and they all damn well know how to let others pay to help raise. Their child.
Know and am a friend who walked almost 4000 miles to get first a job and then scholong who later paid gor his girlfriend to move up here with him in a house he bought by saving almost all he made by living frugally while working at two jobs. Today he and she have two kids and live in fear of being deported as illegal immigrants. They have only what they worked fairly for just as many american familys have done and never took a gov handout.
I figure if he at 14 with only a few dollars of his natons currency wearing a denim jacket and pants a pair of old work boots amd the shirt on his back can of set out and made a better life for himself and npw many others I feel little sympathy for whing and crying woe is me single mothers in this land of the free.

Anonymous said...

You are so right Hide Behind. Last week, I was reading my grandmother's and mother's journal entries. During those generations, kids worked before and after school, women worked and raised kids. Men worked two jobs. I know my dad did. He also worked his entire childhood before and after school. My grandmother bucked hay bales all day and then went home to care for a family. My mom grew up on the plains of Kansas. She literally lived in a sod cabin with dirt floors. She got an orange and one piece of candy for Christmas (Yes, those stories are really true). Her mother was away all week teaching school in a one room school house. My mom ran the household while her mom was away. She picked up cow patties to burn in their stove. (Yes those stories are also true). Later, she worked as a housekeeper and cook in a home full of strangers so she could have a place to sleep and go to high school. In that era, no one got anything for free. If they got sick, they healed themselves. If they had no money, they found a place to make some. If they had no food, they figured out how to grow some or barter labor for a meal. They repaired their own belongings, made their own clothing and didn't waste anything. Children were responsible citizens of the community and contributed to the family unit. I was raised according to those standards. I learned to work as a child and was responsible for preparing the meals in the family, cleaning and caring for garden, etc. I hated it and resented it but am now so thankful that I learned those skills. I know how to work hard. Few of my friends can say that. They were raised differently. What they have achieved in life is proportionate to how hard they have worked. Most are broke.

My grandmother and grandfather were also both immigrants. They earned to speak and write the English language without the benefit of special programs. They had limited education (by today's standards) yet both were successful business owners. I love reading the family journals. It is a reminder that we can be responsible for ourselves. We can solve our own problems. We are not all victims. It is sad to see what is happening to the citizen of this country. We have become lazy and have lost the will to work out our own problems. I think we have lost the "American Way" and that will lead to the demise of this great nation.

Enlightened Rogue said...

You want the STATE to feed you? HA!
Robbing people to feed others is not civilized.
The state WANTS you poor and hungry- you're much easier to control that way.
End the Fed!
Abolish the state!

Anonymous said...

I agree that the work ethic has eroded & many have a sense of entitlement, however there are many who work very hard & still can't get ahead because the governments [read federal,state& local corporations] have enacted so many laws and give so many subsidies to the companies that a little guy is at a huge disadvantage.The criminal bankers have manipulated the economy so everything is way more expensive but wages don't go up, yet they get richer & no prosecution. I have worked since age 9 and now 60 and ill [because of the lies of medical profession and poisons from Big Pharma ] can not work or afford insurance. Hell they are trying to make it so you can't even grow your own food or teach your own kids. By the way I am not on the dole.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to say which is better, not enough food or food laced with chemicals and stem cells from aborted babies, GMO's and pesticides. If this is one of the ways they want to eugenicize the population I would have to say that shooting people would be quicker and kinder. Granted, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth but those doing it won't care.

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