Thursday, October 22, 2009

Film Review: Food Beware – Great Film of Kids Against Pesti cides in Foods in France

by Eric Green

"Food Beware" or the original French film name "Nos enfants nous Accuseront"

What can a little French town of about 3,000 people tell the world? What can such a speck on the earth, a town whose students are about evenly divided between public and Catholic schools? And, add on top of that, a town with a Mayor who is a leading member of the French Communist Party. This later fact is not presented in the new exciting film, "Food Beware" but it is positively, pointed out by a Columbia University based blogger in his review of the film. He included that fact by saying that it was a shame that the mayor's affiliation was not stated.

This film's director, Jean-Paul Jaud, does the remarkable job of moving between a very high level Paris scientific/medical conference sponsored by UNESCO and a town in Southern France, Barjac. This is not an easy job for a filmmaker, but he does it with ease and keeping the attention of viewers.

Edouard Chaulet, the mayor of Barjac, opens the film along side the main Catholic priest in presenting the children of the town with the proposition of turning their schools' cafeterias over to organic food, i.e., cooking, growing and eating. Chaulet and the priest agreed to convert both the public and Catholic school cafeterias to organic.

Remember, this is the same country that welcomed the McDonald food chair a few years ago. Given the very high reputation that the French have for their fine cuisine, McDonalds has been a severe contradiction. But, there is growing movement against. This film is certainly one big step in that direction.

The UNESCO conference gives the grim statistics that pesticides and poorly prepared foods are yielding in France in general, and in Barjac in particular. The inclusion of personal stories, ala Michael Moore, puts a human face on the 100,000 children who die of diseases caused by the environment. And, in Europe, also, that 70% of cancers are linked to the environment: 30% to pollution and 40-% to food. And, added fact is that in Europe cases of cancer in children have risen by 1.1% yearly for 30 years.

Very oddly, France used to be No. 1 in the use of pesticides in the farmlands, but now has dropped to a still far too high No. 3.

These often frightening facts are screened throughout the film in a way that is not boring and thoughtless.

In this film, Jaud introduces you to Mayor Chaulet and shows his deep roots in the community and especially with the farmers in the area. Chaulet knows that to keep this effort going, i.e., extending the schools cafeterias to everybody's food table, he will have to enlist the support of all farmers. He held a conference of those farmers and it was clear that more would be needed. Later at a community meeting

But, the film is a film for and about children, our next generation. Not that older peoples' fate are sealed with the over accumulation of pesticides and GM foods in our systems, but clearly the point of the film was win over the youth.

A 20-minute version of the film that directly addresses youth audience would be a good idea.

Tactically speaking, Jaud clearly wanted to show how the people of Barjac intended to win over their support by their example; and, not by conducting an anti-corporate, anti-agri-business campaign. The corporate forces were not left out, but this was not a film targeting the Cargills. There are films that do that and can be used in an educational series of film on this important subject.

But, it was clear, that Chaulet and his supports are fully aware of the odds against them. and who those forces are.

The instructing of students to grow their own organic vegetables was particularly important. And, conversations with the students were throughout the film and conducted in a very effective way.

Food coops and organic farm supporters across the country would do well to screen this film as part of fundraising campaigns and awareness programs.