Many of us, in America, feel increasingly out of touch with the objects in our everyday lives. We sit at computers made across oceans, in cities in China that we never visit. We eat food wrapped in cellophane from a fluorescent grocery store, produced in far-off rural regions that we never visit. We sit in furniture made from plastic that we bought from a store, and place dinner plates or to-go containers on tables that were made by robots or humans, we don't know, and again across an ocean, in a place we never visit.
This stands in direct contrast to the way humans have lived for many thousands of years.
Our great-grandparents, and all of the good folks who preceded them, knew exactly where everything in their lives came from. The tables were made by- let's say Steve- the carpenter in the village. The food was raised by the family, or perhaps traded with neighbors. There were no electronics, there was no electricity…
There is rarely a simple issue, one that can be said with certainty to be right or wrong. Clearly, there are some benefits from electronics, from plastics, from global commerce.
The documentary, American Meat, is one story in a growing movement centered around agriculture in this great nation.
It is about returning to our roots, regaining some of the self-sufficiency that we've lost. It's about being able to sit down at a dinner table, with friends, family, loved ones, and know that your eggplant was raised by your new friend Antonio, that your pork chop came from a pig, raised and slaughtered by a thoughtful, innovative young butcher named Brandon, and that your lettuce was harvested by a elementary school student named Marquesia. Basically, the food movement is the first step towards us as a people, as a culture, getting back to a way of life that lives in harmony with the environment around us, that regenerates itself from the strength of community, of family, and the mychorrhiza in the soil.
It's about knowing the who, what, when, where and how of the people, objects, and food that make up the daily ritual of who we are in America.
Graham Meriwether is the director, producer and cinematographer of the documentary American Meat, a pro-farmer documentary about beef, pork and poultry production in America. Graham is the founder of the Leave It Better Foundation, a non-profit organization that teaches kids how to grow food in their community and provides them with video cameras to record the process through storytelling.
Images in cover photo from www.americanmeatfilm.com