For the first time, my five food systems films are available online for a very modest rental. Focused on Western Pennsylvania but addressing national and sometimes international issues, these films examine a history of restaurants, the challenges of farming when facing climate change, new food trends, and land misuse, the benefits of homecooking, gardening, and communal living, the devastation of urban renewal and how that impacted neighborhood food options, and the toll that sexism and racism takes on one’s labor.
If interested, please take a look at the film descriptions and trailers below. If you’d like to watch one, the little PLAY icon will take you to a Vimeo page to rent it. Thanks!!
Food Systems, Ch. 1: A Night Out
Food Systems, Chapter 1: A Night Out charts the history of Pittsburgh restaurants from the late 70s to today, from the introduction of French cuisine to the integration of world flavors and local food sources. Along the way, universal topics like the steps to open and run a restaurant, restaurant life, how class impacts restaurant choice, gentrification, sexism in the industry, and labor trends are discussed. Pittsburgh's food scene has expanded exponentially in the past five years, but the changes relate to changes in food across the country. This film shows the passion, energy, and innovation that contribute to a growing food culture.
Food Systems, Ch. 2: Dinner on the Farm
Chapter 2: Dinner on the Farm takes a fly-on-the-wall approach to documenting three farm dinners. The Farmer's Table, run by chef Jacob Mains, sets up an ad-hoc kitchen on Jarosinski Farms and Lewis Family Farms. The restaurant, Avenue B, prepares a five course meal for the Churchview Farm Dinner Series. Tara Rockacy of Churchview Farm discusses changes in the Pittsburgh restaurant scene and her approach to farming.
Food Systems, Ch. 3: The Ecosystem
Food Systems, Chapter 3: The Ecosystem moves away from restaurants and focuses on farmers. Hidden Hills Dairy makes cheese. Laurel Hill Trout Farm provides a tour of the life cycle of farm trout. Founders of Penn's Corner Farm Alliance relive the early days. Downstream buyers Wigle Whiskey and Millie's Homemade Ice Cream show us their process. In addition to the craft of making different foods and drink, the film documents the challenges of farming - impacts from climate change, fracking, strip mining, and skyrocketing land prices to monocultures and their impact on diet and food pricing.
Food Systems, Ch. 4: The System
Food Systems, Chapter 4: The System completes the four-film Food Systems series with an in-depth look at home cooking, hunger, origins of poverty, and solutions to a growing food problem. Starting with the creation of a multi-course traditional Indian meal, the film examines how food and cooking shape community, family, and personal histories while also opening pathways to improving nutrition and food knowledge.
Throughout these discussions, Lidia Bastianich of the Lidia’s restaurant empire reshapes leftover vegetables and stale bread into delicious new dishes. Open House PGH and the Borland Green Cooperative discuss how their intentional communities share cooking and gardening responsibilities to strengthen their communities.
But despite the fascinating developments in the alternative food movement, these emerging opportunities require some amount of privilege and access to food. What happens if your access to healthy food is limited? Just Harvest’s Ken Regal, Felicia Lane Savage, and others discuss the history of hunger, posing the widespread issue as a symptom of poverty. After discussing the barriers to accessing food, emergency solutions like food banks and 412 Food Rescue along with longer-term educational efforts like Community Kitchen Pittsburgh and community gardens are surveyed.
Eating & Working & Eating & Working
Despite being literally visible, the conditions surrounding labor in the service industry often go unseen. Eating & Working & Eating & Working is a feature-length documentary film that follows six people working in the food industry from the beginning to the end of their work day. Along the way, participants, including food thinkers, writers, and researchers, discuss the joys and frustrations of working in food, the skills utilized in their labor, and the impacts of sexism, racism, and classism on their work environments.
By providing space for the subjects of the film to examine their ideas, the film presents a series of nuanced arguments and conversations, ranging from a history of gender-based pay inequity to macho kitchen attitudes to the role of redlining practices in the lack of black ownership in today’s restaurant landscape.