Full Circle

We arrived in St. Louis this morning, a week after we left lambert airport heading west. 

already on our statewide journey, we've had the good fortune to learn from farmers all across the state, and to listen to the eager and youthful people who will one day lead our nation's agriculture. 

our world is often more interconnected than we realize, with the decisions we make impacting others we may or may not know, whether we are aware or not. two professions that seem to be most obviously connected are that of the farmer and the chef. 

chef john griffiths is a young man in charge of food services at a very large and influential university, wash u. and it's incredibly inspiring to see that he is so passionate about supporting local agriculture. his grandmother has a farm in michigan and so he's always been very passionate about and aware of food, and the labor that goes into it's production. 

a few years back, Bon appetit management company, the food service provider at wash u- decided to source all of their hamburger from Rain Crow Ranch, a local grass-based system in Doniphan, Missouri. immediately, students began to respond to the taste, and as we saw, there was a long line for those burgers at lunch. chef john likes to order meat locally because he can put a name and a face with the people who raised it, there's more accountability, more trust that develops over the years. 

we filmed as chefs prepared the meat, and interviewed chefs david and hayes, before heading out to an incredible lunch at schlafly with our buddy Wayne from Chipotle. we had the local meat, and then walked out and saw a garden that provides some of the vegetable needs for the menu, talking to a young farmer nolan, and a more seasoned fellow jack. there's something great about being outside in a garden or on a farm. 

we met the whisnants shortly after our prep meeting, who drove up from SE MO for the event. Peter and his mother Patty have been raising cattle on grass and direct marketing it for years. They supply both Chipotle and BAMCo, two of our partners on this screening tour. Kelly, Peter's wife, and newborn Abigail were there. Hundreds and hundreds of students braved the thunderstorms to get some beef brisket from Rain Crow Ranch cooked up by the chefs at Wash U. 

Looking out before screening starts. (Photo A. Trimbach)

Then we went downstairs and Jill- who did an amazing job setting up the event- introduced the film, and I talked a bit about how it got made before the play button was pushed. David treated Andy and I to dinner and then chef David cooked up some incredible vegetables and steak, as we talked about the future of agriculture in America. 

During the panel, we were thrilled to be rejoined by Dr. Massey, who made strong points about grazing, and the acreage needed to raise meat on pasture, as well as points about the way that zoning has impacted all types of farms in America. 

The good folks who stayed for the post-screening conversation in May Auditorium at Wash U. (Photo A. Trimbach)

Peter talked passionately about the fact that food is one of the most important things in our life. It kind of sounds weird when you first hear something like that, but then when you really think about it, it is absolutely true. We need food to live, we eat everyday, and the food that we choose to eat is absolutely a vital part of who we are. 

Chef John talked about the incredible flavors of local foods and how he has tasted every kind of meat and vegetable and for him there's nothing that compares to a fresh, local product. He believes that our bodies want these foods because they have more nutrition and more health. As Ray mentioned the small amount that Americans spend on food, John wondered if we might be healthier if we spent more money on local food with less processing. 

I talked about the challenges of drought and climate on certain kinds of agriculture, and posited that every generation agriculture changes completely, and that this generation will be no different. And of course, that there is no perfect system, and that we will soon be creating unforeseen problems for the next generation. 

All in all, it was another phenomenal night, and we're exciting for another full day tomorrow, starting with a shoot on Todd Geisert's legendary farm in Washington, MO.

Do you like this post?

Showing 2 reactions

followed this page 2012-10-18 10:00:36 -0400
published this page in Ruminations 2012-10-18 00:36:06 -0400