Sunday in Palo Alto we screened at a quirky community space that is freely given out to non-profits by a company called World Centric.

It's got all the usual charm and funky inefficiencies of a shared community space.

Peter Ruddock and the community dedicated to Transition- which is a small movement of folks looking to helping this current time transition into a post-fossil fuel era. Basically, a community dedicated to looking at local agriculture, and local economies, to resilience and survival.  

Read more
Add your reaction Share

So Many Possible Connections

We've had the pleasure to screen our documentary at a few conferences across America. 

These events are overwhelming. They occur at massive convention centers, often in close connection with a hotel. Folks walk around with nametags, that also list a hometown, and sometimes a company or farm. 

There's a collective excitement, a collective sense of purpose, and more than anything an incredible amount of overlapping thoughts and intentions. The word that gets said often, is synergy, perhaps a fusion of synthesis and energy. 

Dinner before hand featured local meats and vegetables, and a great conversation with Cathy Raymond of WAP, John of US Wellness Meats and the McAfee's of Organic Pastures. 

Our screening had somewhere between 100 and 200 people in attendance, some of whom were weary from a long day of growth, and perhaps relished the opportunity to sit in a darkroom and take a load off. 

Read more
Add your reaction Share


Life on the road is often equal parts inspiring and fleeting. So many people each day, so many stories, so much learned. And the next day, gone,  an arrival with another place.

This being the first documentary we've created, and distributed, new lessons in what to do, and what to do differently next time are learned each day. 

One thing we learned to do differently, was to make sure to check the town schedule, as our screening directly overlapped with the farmers market in town, which in all likelihood pulled away a number of folks who may well have attended our screening. 

Despite the rookie mistake, we were very happy to have  40 or so folks come out to the wonderful independent theater, the Palm, with it's friendly quirky vibe.

After the screening, our conversation began.

One of our panelists was Randy Ryan. Randy's life is one dedicated to service. As a young man he enlisted in the military and served his country in combat. 

In a calm quiet humble tone, Randy talked about how after returning from service abroad, he looked for the next way to serve his country. Having grown up on a farm, and having seen that many kids think that apples come from a plastic bag in the grocery store, Ryan decided to dedicate his life to teaching America's youth how to farm. He now runs a program teaching youth in Los Angeles how to garden, how to grow food. He's also part of the incredible organization, Farmer Veteran Coalition, that we are proud to be national  outreach partners with.

It's an inspiring story, one that makes me ask what I can do to better serve our country, and our environment. 

Edgar, a friend of Randy, served in Iraq, helping to build gardens there, doing work of healing in a place that much needs it. He talked passionately about his current work, growing food with the former Secretary of Agriculture in California. 

Elizabeth Poett, a seventh generation cattle woman, talked about how she's so glad that she came back to the farm. How she farms in a way that suits the particular climate of her farm in Lompoc, Ca, one that doesn't have much rainfall, and that means more land is needed for cattle, because they aren't able to sustain themselves on the drier pastures. They recently began to utilize a mobile slaughter unit, which dramatically cuts back on their transportation costs of having to truck animals to slaughter.

Bob Delmore, a professor of meat sciences at CalPoly talked passionately about his work, educating youth about the meat industry. His booming voice and natural charisma was a welcome addition to the conversation. He talked about the importance and purpose of regulations, about how every farm needs to be held accountable for the sake of our nation's food safety. 

Read more
Add your reaction Share

What do you think?

Usually, when there's a discussion after a documentary, the panelists discuss their experience and then there are a couple questions from the audience. In some ways, it is a tired format. 

Last night we changed things up a bit, thanks to a great idea from Professor Dan Yuhasz, who teaches at neighboring Cal Poly Pomona. The idea was simple, have each of the farmers in the audience stand up and talk about who they are and what they think. 

On a simple level we flipped things, instead of the "audience" asking the "panelists" questions, the panelists asked the 50 or so people in the audience, who are you, what do you think? 

What ensued was a truly engaged conversation. 

Folks like Pearl Kumar stood up and talked about their unique project, the growing home. 

Ev, a professor at neighboring Pitzer college, talked about the importance of water conservation in Los Angeles. 

Young farmer Tony talked about his desire to get into farming, and thoughts about the future of the region given the massive population and dwindling resources. 

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Happy Cows

For a cow, it's hard to imagine life getting much better than this. Seeing George Vojkovich calling "yooo" to his herd is quite a sight to see. It's tough not cracking a smile when those cows come barreling towards him.

George's story similar to that of Richard Morris starts off with a health scare and profound realization of abrupt and necessary dietary changes. George had been experiencing abnormal heart palpations and one night they got so severe he ended up in the hospital. His diet consisted largely of gas station food and his heart condition was an unfortunate side effect. His doctor advised him that his heart condition was likely caused by chemicals in the workplace or chemicals in his food; before long he realized it was his diet that needed changing.

That was 15 years ago, flash-forward to today and George is on a raw vegetarian diet. Pretty admirable for someone who subsisted on gas station snack food. I guess what intrigues me so much by the stories of these people changing their diet and lifestyle is the passion they share for it. Richard  and George lead completely different lives yet they are connected through the idea of eating wholesome real foods. Everything they say in these videos is very authentic and you can tell they live and breathe what they believe in. Hopefully we can all take a little something away from George and Richard's stories.

Add your reaction Share

Two West Coast Cities Lead the Way in Supporting Local Farmers

As American Meat gears up for traveling to several more states in the nationwide Young Farmer Screening Series, we are pleased to see that two locations on our itinerary are taking remarkable steps to support local farmers.

Both Seattle and Los Angeles have recently passed policies moving the cities toward local food sourcing as the norm. Seattle is where American Meat will kick-off its Washington tour at the University of Washington on November 13th at 6pm (more info here). Seattle’s Food Action Plan will emphasize farmland preservation, environmental sustainability, regional economic development, and better food access. Mayor Mike McGinn’s office shared this statement: “The action plan creates the path for our City’s food future. It will help strengthen our food economy, ensure that more people can grow food locally, and improve access to for everyone in our community to affordable healthy food.”

UW student Stephanie Robinson, who has been organizing the screening of American Meat on that campus, remarked: “The goals of the new Seattle Food Action Plan emphasize the importance of local food production, food access, health, equity, and more, capitalizing on the city’s purchasing and contracting power to support locally, sustainably produced foods. This Plan is just one example of what we will need to see politically in order to transform our food system at every level—from local to regional to national.”

Robinson has been an activist for the last year with the registered student organization Real Food Challenge, a national grassroots campus movement that works to increase university procurement of foods that are local, ecologically sound, fair, and humane. Stephanie and students on over 360 other U.S. campuses are working to divert 20% of an annual $5 billion national university food budget to "real food" purchases by the year 2020, catalyzing a transformation to the national food system at large.

L.A.’s Good Food Ordinance is supporting local farmers through a coalition of organizations and institutions that are working to “incorporate local, sustainable produce into their menus and to rethink institutional food procurement policies.” An example of such an initiative is the city’s “Farm-to-School” program, which connects schools and students to local farms, providing healthy, tasty cafeteria meals and improving student nutrition.

Mayor Villaraigosa’s office released this statement to the press: “Healthy food makes healthy communities. By issuing this Executive Directive to all City departments to adopt the Good Food Purchasing Pledge and its accompanying guidelines, we incentivize other municipalities and institutions to follow our lead, encouraging sustainably produced food, healthy eating habits, respect for workers’ rights and support for the local business economy.”

We at American Meat are excited to see how these initiatives support America’s farmers, and hope that other cities across the nation will follow the West Coast’s lead!

Add your reaction Share

Raise Something Better

Now I didn't know Richard before his physical and mental transformation, but it's hard to imagine him being happier than he is here in the fourth and final part of his story.

He simply exudes happiness, even when doing work that most would consider unsavory. To him pulling weeds and tending to his soon to be garden looks and feels rewarding even for the person watching it. This is the first real introduction we get to his wife and it's an absolute joy to see the both of them sharing in the hard work together.

I really like getting to know Richard because it is very obvious that he is not doing this for attention, he is doing it out of sheer love and passion. Fortunately Graham was able to find Richard and document his story, the two events occurred independently. Whether Richard was being filmed or not, you can tell he would be pulling weeds and getting his garden ready.

"these weeds are a metaphor for the big screen tv, the McMansion and the new car every year, or the SUV. You have to pull them up, throw them away and raise something better". Richard is truly happy with the decisions he has made in his life and it shows in his overall demeanor and excitement. I have enjoyed visiting Richard on these videos and learning about his journey from well-paid, unhealthy tech-worker to happy and fit delivery driver.

As Richard says with birds chirping in the background "I guess you come to the party when you get there, and you dance while you can. And we are dancing"

2 reactions Share

The Benefits of Food

Richard Morris underwent significant diet changes that had profound effects on his life. These changes altered his entire way of thinking and living. He says that he lost around 150 pounds and his wife lost 50 pounds after changing their diets. The more pronounced changes though were in the way he felt physically and mentally.

He says that he and his wife became "overzealous evangelists" and that the best way to get people to understand his thoughts on food was not by talking to them, but simply by cooking for them. Before Richard understood the benefits of meaningful meals with family and friends his diet consisted of overly processed and unhealthy foods.

The obvious changes that Richard made to his daily diet are undoubtedly admirable, but the truly inspiring part of his story is the way it broadened his horizons to an entirely different world of food. Driving up to an establishment, ordering food from a screen and picking it up moments later disconnects us from how wonderful food truly is. Watching these videos and seeing Richard's excitement for preparing wholesome meals is quite wonderful.

Food is a passion that spans across cultures and generations. No matter where you go or who you are, people are proud to pass down their food culture and heritage. Americans have a rich history of food because it is an amalgamation of all different cuisines. Showing people the importance of wholesome quality food is best done with friends and family, a lesson that Richard will pass along for generations to come.

1 reaction Share

Richard Morris Saved

We are all familiar with the rapid/huge losses in wieght that are thrown in our faces by the media, one Jerad of Subway comes to mind. The story of Richard Morris, however, isn't one you will likely read about in the New York Times or see on TV but it is far more interesting and inspiring.

Richard unfortunately lost many of his closest family members to Diabestes and was on a self destructive path that could have potentially led him that direction as well. He was over 400 pounds and had a multitude of weight related health complicatations that were taking a toll on his life. One day while he was in New York he decided to stray away from his normal diet, he ate chicken with a side of vegetables and water intead of the usual cola and this small choice snowballed into a monumental change that would ultimately affect the rest of his life.

Richard called his wife and tossed around the idea of eating wholesome foods that aren't overly processed and changing his lifestyle; they agreed it would be the right thing to do. Fast forward to today, Richard has lost a significant amount of weight and currently works for Polyface Farms  as a delivery driver. He turned his life around completely and signficantly decreased his chances of getting diabetes. 

Food is probably one of the most important aspects of our lives, rich or poor we all need it to survive. In the last 50 years we have lost our way when it comes to food, but thanks to stories like this one and people like Richard I firmly believe we are starting to see the light again and are hopefully on our way back to the way our grandparents ate.

2 reactions Share

Cape Girardeau

Peter Whisnant called at 620 and we met him at the entrance of the Drury Inn. 

The sun was not up yet, and the darkness of the night faded more with each passing minute. We drove through some country roads, gracious for Peter's generosity to meet us and lead us to the farm, as we would have been almost certainly lost otherwise. At a big old barn, we set up the camera and got in his car. The roomy white SUV was filled with guns, and Peter spoke often of hunting. It's good to have guns in case of coyotes he said.

Peter, at 28 years of age and 6ft. 5, is the president of Rain Crow Ranch, one of the largest grass-fed beef producers in America. We spent an hour at one of their ten source farms where we took some footage of cattle on green pastures, and interviewed Peter in an old barn with a beautiful soft light. He talked about the importance of selling produce to chefs who understand how to use the whole animal, chefs like John Griffiths at Wash U. They've been buying all of their ground beef from Rain Crow Ranch, a mutually beneficial relationship. After the interview, we took a trip to the company's nearby processing plant in Jackson. There we saw some of the rooms where cattle move from being cattle to being meat. We also saw the vast maps and calendars of a company with a growing business and increasing logistical complexities. Soon thereafter, we parted ways and thanked Peter. 

We drove north to St. Louis and had lunch at Schlafly's, which was much more crowded than it had been Wednesday afternoon. The food was good, and we ate mostly in silence, as endings tend to be times of rest and reflection.

Across the street, we emptied out the rental car, organized clothes and gear, and vacuumed out the dirt and crumbs that had accumulated over the 10 days. Andy asked if it had been a good start. Yes, I said, definitely.

We dropped off the rental and returned to Lambert hours before departure.


1 reaction Share

← Previous  1  2    8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16    19  20  Next →