Here We Go Again :)

Well, many of us have heard about how congested car traffic in Los Angeles is. And I suppose, that before today, I'd never really been nailed by it before. 

What should have been an hour's drive, turned to two and half, and I arrived at Casa Loma in Redlands University at exactly 6:30, at the exact moment that Rosa Perlman, superstar undergrad environmental advocate, began to introduce the documentary. 

The festivities had begun at 6pm, and Chef Mark, and the good folks of Bon Appétit Management Company, had prepared a veritable banquet of finger foods. A wonderful way for people to eat and talk together, before watching a story about farming. 

Introduced the film to about 120 people in attendance, reigniting the familiar trains of thought, and continuing the conversation in Redlands, CA where we had left off at our final screening of 2012 at Hermitage High School in Richmond, VA. 

The group we had was strong, assertive and full of purpose. Carrie-Anne Parker, who runs a nursery called Rolling Hills, talked with passion about her work. She's a strong advocate that folks should eat less meat, and that people should plan meals out at the beginning of each week, so that way, their food dollars can have the most value. It's also vital- she says- to support local, and she's been so adamant about this philosophy that she has not shopped at Wal-Mart in 12 years. 

Chef Mark, who's been at Redlands for a year, talked about how important it is for chefs to buy from local farmers, because it then makes it possible for those farmers to keep money in their bank accounts. He also stated that the average family spends $900 month on groceries, but because of his cooking skills, his family only spends $400. How, you ask? Well, great cooks know how to get the most out of vegetables and meat. A whole chicken is roasted, with the leftovers creating more food, and then the bones dropped in boiling water to make stock for soup, which then makes even more meals. This kind of thing was laughably simple and universal for our grandparents and greatgrandparents, and yet these days this kind of whole food utilization borders on magic in some circles. 

Rosa Perlman, spoke passionately about a number of issues, with an impressive command of the local stores, and agricultural and environmental organizations. She emphasized how important it is for students to get involved, how the cheapest food she's ever found is actually local produce at Stafford's in neighboring Mentone. As she talked, you could see the students in attendance nodding and absorbing the positive energy. 

Prof. Dan spoke with a natural sense of humor, talking about how his main connection to agriculture is by way of the fact that he- along with everyone else in the room- eats. Timing which brought the room to laugh. He often echoed the wisdom of one of his favorite students- Rosa- and called on all of us to work together to break up the current agricultural system which he felt is full of sweetheart deals in which big companies and producers have undue influence on a region. 

Finally, local farmers Abby & Jason Harned of Three Sisters Farm, stood up and told everyone with the incredible humility about the vital importance of going to the farmers market, and buying food directly from farmers. Jason spoke with such humility, such good will. After Jason finished speaking, everyone in the room applauded, and most of us had no idea we were clapping because it seemed such a natural seamless instinct to do so. 

Good-byes and thank-yous and back on the road. 

Hungry, swung by a Chipotle, to get a meal. Ran into a nice fellow named Les, who was at the screening. We talked a bit as we ordered. He was excited by what he'd seen and was asking about whether or not any farmers in town raised animals like Polyface Farms. He said that he can get eggs and vegetables locally at the farmers market. It was a nice moment. We said so long, and shortly thereafter, I drove back on an oddly traffic-free route back to Los Angeles.

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