Two local gardening organizations have teamed up to bring two food films to the Twin Cities.
It was just two years ago that "locavore" was proclaimed "Word of the Year" by the New Oxford American Dictionary. But the seeds of the local-food movement were sowed more than 35 years earlier, when chef/restaurateur Alice Waters co-founded Chez Panisse, the Berkeley eatery that pioneered "California Cuisine" and its emphasis on fresh, local, seasonal ingredients.
Chez Panisse was more than a restaurant. It was also a hangout for Waters' activist friends, and it became ground zero for a political and gastronomic revolution that has spread from the West Coast all the way to the Obamas' new organic vegetable garden on the White House lawn.
Waters is just one of the characters in "Food Fight," an award-winning documentary that will be shown next Wednesday in Minneapolis as half of a two-part film event organized by local nonprofit groups Gardening Matters and the Midtown Farmers' Market. California filmmaker Chris Taylor will be in town for the local premiere of his film and will lead the post-film panel discussion.
"Food Fight" documents the downfall of corporate food production, and showcases some of the individuals, such as basketball-player-turned-urban farmer Will Allen, who have taken food sourcing back into their own hands in creative ways.
The film covers some of the same thematic ground as the more widely released "Food, Inc.," but from a different perspective, according to David Nicholson, manager of Midtown Farmers' Market. The former film emphasizes the unappetizing aspects of corporate food production, while "'Food Fight' focuses on the consumer end, and the aesthetic pleasures of fresh, locally grown food," he said. (When asked by an interviewer what inspired his film, Taylor replied, "I love food.")
The two-part film event will open today with a showing of another local-food chronicle, "The Garden," a 2009 Oscar-nominated documentary by Scott Hamilton Kennedy. This film tells the tale of a community garden in South Central Los Angeles and the urban farmers, mostly immigrants from Latin America, who fought to save it from developers. (To view the trailers, visit www.blackvalleyfilms.com and www.foodfightthedoc.com.)
The two local nonprofits cooked up the film event to raise awareness of how locally grown food contributes to health and well-being, Nicholson said, and also to raise the profiles of the two organizations themselves. Gardening Matters promotes community gardening across the metro area, through workshops, resource fairs and an annual Parade of Community Gardens. The Midtown Farmers' Market is a twice-weekly outdoor market (Saturday mornings and Tuesday afternoons) at Lake Street and 22nd Avenue S. in Minneapolis.
In conjunction with the film event, the organizations are urging local locavores to vote in a national contest, Love Your Farmers Market, at www.care2.com.
"It's sort of 'American Idol' for farmers' markets," Nicholson said. (Midtown was ranked fifth nationally in the contest at the time of this writing. The contest ends Sept. 17, and the top five markets will win cash prizes.) The easiest way to access the voting site is to type "Love Your Farmers Market" into Google or another search engine, Nicholson said.
Kim Palmer • 612-673-4784