Viewing the DVD Fresh definitely gives one food for thought. We meet an urban farmer, a sustainable farmer (made famous in The Omnivore’s Dilemma), and a market owner confronting a Wal-Mart economy, among several farmers and other U.S. business professionals who are reformulating the food system.

The film exposes us to the industrial approach to agriculture, monoculture and factory farming. It’s all about efficiency. However, industrial standardization just does not work on everything, agriculture being a notable failure. Monocultures are dangerous, requiring a multitude of antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. We see industrialized livestock production with its factory farms, feed lots, and manure lagoons full of hormones and pesticides. A quote from the film: “According to the Environmental Protection Agency, our present agricultural practices are responsible for 70% of all the pollution in the U.S.’s rivers and streams.”

Enter sustainable agriculture! Farmers practicing sustainable agriculture do not use more resources than they return. Joel Salatin, a sustainable farmer states, “If you’re committed to the land, then you do something different. You look at nature as the template, and say: how can we most closely approximate this?” The video supplies information about the increased health benefits, better taste and greater comfort to the animals that sustainable agriculture provides. Food is the foundation of this video, but it is really all about life.

This 70-minute film can be broken up into classroom-convenient segments and lends itself to productive discussions around the risks and consequences of industrial versus sustainable agriculture. One could find substance for bioethical investigations. I recommend this film for middle school students through adults.