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Documentary film series explores America’s food industry

American Award nominee Food, Inc., the final entry in the documentary film series, will be shown April 21.

When Food, Inc. was nominated for a 2009 Academy Award for Best Documentary, it highlighted a growing area of interest and concern: America’s food industry. To focus attention on how this industry affects health, economy, community and the environment, Lehigh is running a Documentary Food Film Series through the end of April.

Sponsored by LTS, the South Side Initiative (SSI), Lehigh Dining, SustainabLehigh and ArtsLehigh, the series offers free movies and discussions afterwards with filmmakers and faculty members. All films begin at 6:30 p.m. in Whitaker Auditorium.

“This is a good opportunity for us to focus on food and our relationship to food,” says Julia Maserjian, digital library project coordinator and a series organizer. “This is the power of the documentary film—to inform people about what’s going on in their world.”

The series kicked off in February with The End of the Line, a documentary that examines the impact of overfishing on the oceans. John Gatewood, a professor of anthropology who studies the human ecology of fisheries, led the discussion. In early March, filmmaker Ana Sofia Joanes visited Lehigh for a showing of her film Fresh.

The Garden: Bringing a local issue to life

On Wednesday, March 24, the series continues with The Garden, which tells of farmers who fight to save a 14-acre community garden in South Central Los Angeles from developers. Filmmaker Scott Hamilton Kennedy will lead the post-movie discussion.

John Pettegrew, associate professor of history, an organizer of the event and co-director of the SSI, says The Garden brings to life issues taking place on Bethlehem’s South Side.

“The film series is running in conjunction with the Southside Community Gardens, an SSI-supported project joining Lehigh with the City of Bethlehem and South Side residents to create sustainable and organic community gardens and, with that, a secure source of affordable and nutritious food,” says Pettegrew. “As different films in the series demonstrate, we’re part of a national and international food movement.”

Future screenings include Buffet: All You Can Eat Las Vegas on April 7. Director and producer Natasha Dow Schull, an anthropologist writing a book on gambling and addiction in Las Vegas, will discuss the film after the screening.

The final film in the series, the Academy Award nominee Food, Inc., shows April 21. The film discusses the mechanization of America’s food industry.

“From Michelle Obama’s White House garden, to CBS’s new series Food Revolution, and, most importantly, to the grassroots efforts in countless communities, people are re-thinking and re-creating systems for growing, distributing and consuming food around values of democracy, high nutrition and sustainability,” says Pettegrew.

Story by Tricia Long

Posted on Monday, March 22, 2010

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