, , , , , , , ,

Madison Food And Farms Film Festival Shines Light On Sustainable Food System

Festival Will Feature 3 Documentaries Followed By Conversations With Local, National Leaders Of Sustainable Food Movement

sustainable farming
Steven Senne/AP Photo

A film festival featuring a handful of films about sustainable food systems is coming to Madison for its third year Tuesday.

The Food and Farms Film Festival’s theme this year is “downstream,” both a literal look at how a farm’s practices affect those downstream, and a broader look at how everyday food choices impact the environment, economy and communities.

Scott Laeser, a farmer and water quality specialist at Clean Wisconsin, hopes attendees will walk away from the festival feeling invested in finding sustainable solutions to the food system.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

“Our food choices make a big difference,” Laeser, who is speaking at the festival, said. “We spent a long time in this country just pursuing this incessant drive for cheap food and we kind of forgot … that there’s a lot more to our food than what appears on our plate.”

Each of the festivals three films — “Big River,” “Last Man Fishing” and “Local Thirty” — will be followed by a talk with both local and national leaders in the food movement, said Carrie Sedlak, executive director of the FairShare CSA Coalition, which is organizing the festival.

“It’s a nice way to bring eaters and growers together,” she said. “The goal is to show a number of films that bring up a couple of different issues in sustainable agriculture, do a deep dive into those issues and then follow that up with … speakers to provide local context.”

“Big River,” follows two filmmakers — by canoe — as they trace the pesticides and herbicides traveling downstream to the Gulf of Mexico from their 1-acre of corn in Iowa.

Laeser will lead the talk after the screening.

“It really drives home what the impacts are of the choices that we’re making with our growing practices … on the fishing industry,” he said.

The festival’s main event, “Local Thirty,” documents Portland farmer Andrea Bemis’s 30-day commitment to eat food within a 200-mile radius of her home and meet the farmers, ranchers and fisherman who provide her food. A Q&A with Bemis follows the screening.

Laeser thinks people’s perception of food, and where it comes from, is changing.

“Consumers are coming back to a point where they recognize that they need to look at not just what’s on their plate, but where it’s coming from, how it’s grown, who is growing it,” he said. “Ultimately they can make some choices … that can have a positive impact on the system.”

The festival is at the High Noon Saloon in Madison, tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door. The doors open at 6 p.m. and the screenings begin at 7 p.m.

Related Stories