RKS 2023 Film Toronto Hot Docs Festival: “Food and Country” (international premiere)

“Food and Country” is an American documentary delving into food production and the restaurant business in the United States. Although shot during COVID, a most miserable time for so many, it doesn’t solely focus on the impact of COVID on restaurants and the ag business. It digs deeper and examines the crisis in the American ag business.

Ruth Reichl, a well-known food critic and always a lover of good food does the asking and probing of cattle ranchers, restaurant owners and farmers in a gentle and compassionate manner. The documentary could be both oppressive and depressive in its totality but with good humor Reichl delivers the message of the dangers of concentration of agricultural production exacerbated by that devil we know as COVID. She speaks with farmers, ranchers and restaurant owners to explain the crisis affecting them. And they are fighting back with determination and optimism trends that threaten their existence and our dangerous reliance on ag oligopoly.

Reichl maintains that we should appreciate the independents in the ag and restaurant business who of course are looking for economic prosperity in a manner that offers hope to us all. But they know and care about the products they produce. A new collective vision of agriculture is required to save us from a disaster in food supply which we had a taste of during COVID and are still paying the price for. Reichl is right on when she says that food shows us human and societal values. I often look at the baskets of shoppers at grocery stores and wince with processed foods and all manner of unhealthy food in those baskets. Food shopping here in Canada during most months is a chore but when our farmer’s markets and farms offer a bounty of high-quality produce food shopping becomes a joy.

Even if you enjoy your fructose laden and processed foods you proudly wheel around in your food basket you really owe it to yourself and independent farmers to watch this documentary. It plays here in Toronto on April 28th with a post film conversation with Ruth Reichl (also a co-producer) and Laura Gabbert (director). The other screenings will be on 29April and 7May.

RKS 2023 Film Rating 92/100.

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food ,drink, travel, film, and lifestyle issues. He also has published serialized novels "Life at Megacorp", "Virus # 26, "Reggie the Egyptian Rescue Dog" and "The Penniless Pensioner" Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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