Documentaries at the Mill Valley Film Festival

Watched the world premier of In Defense of Food today at the Mill Valley Film Festival, a documentary created in response to the release of Michael Pollan’s book. It was extremely well done and expanded on a range of topics covered in the book, as well as presented some additional findings and ideas. In summary, Pollan imparts a very simply answer to the seemingly complex question of what to eat. Eat FOOD, as opposed to the “edible food-like substances” you find piled high in the center of the super market. Avoid the area where the loudest foods are Pollan advises, stick to the outer edge of the supermarket, there you will find far less “health claims.” The quieter the food, the healthier it usually is… Pollan breaks down the system of thought in American known as “nutritionism”, which he describes to be much like a religion. The basis of this way of thinking is reductionist science, the idea that foods are the sum of their constituent parts (nutrients). Therefore, if the individual nutrients in foods are the important and desirable elements, then the logical method of producing foods with those nutritional benefits is to extract the nutrient from its natural source and inject it into various food products to be consumed. The movie also includes the work of The Human Food Project and their research on the Hadzabe people of Tanzania, which explores the link between diet, gut microbiota and health. The film also mentioned The Bigger Picture Campaign, located in Oakland which is working to end the presence Type 2 Diabetes in California. Definitely interested in looking into those two organizations.

Yesterday at the Film Festival I watched a documentary called The Roots of ‘Ulu, as part of a larger sequence of short documentaries titled The New Environmentalists. This particular one was extremely relevant to my recent independent study because not only was it about Hawaii, but it spoke about the connections between food and culture, health and community, and the importance of getting back to our roots and traditions. I would highly recommend checking out both films, as well as any of the other shorts within The New Environmentalists.


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