"Food Matters" is an intensely personal film. Yes it addresses many of the Big Issues that the Plow to Plate Film Series tackles each month: the sorry state of today’s food due to its industrialized production, genetically modified organisms, the coopting of regulators by corporations, food deserts, and the resurgence of local food movements.
But these are not the central themes nor take aways of "Food Matters." Unlike last December’s screening of the anti-fracking film, Dear Governor Cuomo, which urged political action, those viewing "Food Matters" will want to reach for a carrot or celery stick, not a pen with which to write their local legislators.
"Food Matters" argues that Americans are sick because our food is sick. Not just the processed stuff in the middle aisles of our supermarkets, but even the “fresh” fruits and vegetables found on the perimeter. Our cucumbers are malnourished because the soil they were grown in has been robbed of most essential nutrients save three – nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium - the ingredients that make up artificial fertilizers (healthy soil needs 52 nutrients but on most large commercial farms 49 are missing).
And then, rather than eating our vegetables raw, we often boil, steam, or otherwise overcook them, killing enzymes and depleting vitamins and minerals. The movie posits that 51% of the food we eat should be raw. No wonder ingesting this anemic fare, our bodies and our brains remain deficient, chronically malnourished and hungry, even toxic.
"Food Matters" prides itself on being controversial. For example, many haut chefs and ordinary folk might be upset to hear that cooking food bastardizes its structure so that the human body no longer recognizes it and treats it as if it were a foreign organism or toxin, prompting allergic reactions. And one talking head is a relentless and articulate critic of the medical and pharmaceutical industries, partly because they do not embrace his belief that mega-doses of vitamin C can cure cancer and other viruses, or that massive infusions of niacin can alleviate even the deepest of depressions.
His claim that scientifically validated alternative treatments have not gained mainstream traction because there’s no profit in it is interesting, and may even be true. Yet one may also remember that at the end of his life Steven Jobs regretted his embrace of alternative medicine and his decision to delay more conventional treatments.
But you don’t have to believe all the claims made in "Food Matters" to benefit from it. Most of what it says is sensible and irrefutable and much of it easy enough to do. Many of us may not have the stomach (or should I say bladder) to follow their advice to drink a liter or two of water each morning before our coffee or tea. But it’s easy enough to dissolve some Spirulina (one of their touted detoxifying super foods) in a cup of water for a quick boost of energy and cleanse. At the end of the day it is hard to argue with the central theme which is the age old cliché that “you are what you eat” and “your food determines your mood.”
"Food Matters" has an enduring belief in the body’s ability to heal itself, if fed a proper diet. In that, it is very optimistic and liberating. The choice of what we put in our bodies, or what kinds of treatment we seek to cure our ills, is ours. So if you are looking for a great affirmation for why you belong to the Park Slope Food Coop, "Food Matters" will supply that, in droves.
"Food Matters" will show Tuesday, February 13, second floor meeting room of the Coop, 7:00 p.m. Refreshments will be served.