Subtitled “the film about kids and food politics”, What’s On Your Plate? is a wonderful and powerfully effective documentary by Catherine Gund and its two 11-year-old star activists: Sadie Hope-Gund and Safiyah Riddle.
I was fortunate to meet Catherine and see the film in the Spring of 2009, and am so happy it is finally available on DVD for “the masses”.
In this 76 minute documentary, Sadie and Safiyah spend an entire year investigating the whats, whens, wheres, whys, and hows of food production. Throughout this journey, they speak with government officials, local farmers, and fellow students. They get an insider’s view of the National School Lunch Program, visit urban greenmarkets, and, through a classroom science experiment, learn why a walnut is a better food choice than a marshmallow or a Funyun.
What’s On Your Plate? is a wonderful “food politics 101” film for grownups and kids; it succinctly makes the right connections between agriculture, diet and health. Early on in the film, for example, we learn that Sadie has a family history of high cholesterol, and by age 8 she was already manifesting symptoms. This not only serves as a wonderful motivator behind the girls’ investigations and discoveries, but is later revisited after Sadie’s diet improves and her level of physical activity increases.
Far from an idealistic “just eat healthier foods!” message, the film touches upon issues of accessibility to healthy food options, particular in the inner city, and what can be done to remedy the situation.
The DVD (available for ordering here) offers three wonderfully didactic study modules — one on school food, another on health and access, and another on local foods.