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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Real Food-The Next Big Thing?

From Communities in the Washington Times

Omkara World by Adam Helfer

On the eve of Obama’s big health care overhaul plan, less than an hour away in Annapolis, Maryland, there was another momentous event taking place amongst members of a brewing movement that is gathering momentum fast and reaching the horizon of the cutting edge.

Supporters of the sustainable and “real food” movement held a viewing of “Fresh, the Movie” at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis on Sun March 21st.

Joel Salatin addressing the crowd.

Joel Salatin addressing the crowd.

While the movie “Food Inc” has so far seemed to have gained the most widespread popularity in exposing the current industrial food system, it seems that “Fresh, the Movie” could be at the forefront of furthering the alternative to the current paradigm. “Fresh” summarizes the glaring downsides of the current system, but its main focus is on the visionaries and farmers that have practical and superior alternatives to make a shift and change in the organic, sustainable direction.

What makes the film unique, is its current distribution method- Director Ana Sophia Joanes and Co. didn’t want anyone to get the DVD, watch the documentary, and then struggle with “ok, I get it- now what!?”- Ana emphasizes purchasing the “Fresh Kit” and holding a community, or at least a family viewing, enables you to support each other once the movie is over and its “change time”

This model came to perfect fruition on Sunday- Farmer Joel Salatin (PolyFace Farm, Fresh, and academy award nominated Food Inc.) and Ana Sophia Joanes spoke to 2 sold out viewings of the documentary. 400-600 people came through the doors that day: Vegans, Omnivores, Yoga practitioners, business owners, young and old- so many were turned away, a 3rd sold out show was easily plausible. 30 vendors were also on hand distributing and showcasing local sustainable food and services- answering questions and offering services to those looking to kick the current system make a “Fresh” start with local, sustainable, organic whole foods.

Salatin has become somewhat of a farmer “celebrity” since the conception of Omnivores Dilemma, Food Inc. and now Fresh. His Polyface Farm may need security soon to keep fans at bay! Well, it’s all not quite there yet, but trends are showing GM (Genetically Modified) food is down this coming year, while sustainable farming and organics are on the rise. While the popularity of organics and sustainability leads to its own set of issues within its own realm (saved for another story) it is getting close to poising itself for “cutting edge” and the next step being mainstream.

Salatin addressed the full capacity crowd by stating how this current food paradigm has run its course. Besides the issue with this system and our fledgling health and wellbeing, it has also led us to be so disconnected from our food in general- 25% of people eat in their cars, 60% haven’t even planned what is going to be for dinner that night, and 90% of our food dollars are spent on processed and fast food.

Andy of Woodberry Kitchen

Andy of Woodberry Kitchen

The fact is, we’ve become so disconnected in general! Our current sad state of affairs in regard to our food habits also parallel how fragmented we have become with ourselves and each other. It’s no surprise that anxiety, depression, and other mental illness are on the rise also. Processed, homogenized food leads to a processed, stripped down connection with our own selves, other beings, and a general disconnect from the pulse of life in general.

This sustainable food movement is also equal part a spiritual revolution. Ana Joanes states that “Fresh” isn’t really about food, it’s about the sacredness of re-establishing our connection with ourselves, nature, the planet, and all its inhabitants. Food is just used as a reference point to start the re-connection.

There is a certain sense of sacredness that can come from our connection with our food: Having a relationship with our farmers, seeing and knowing where our food comes from, being present while preparing it, giving thanks or making an offering, and most importantly being present while eating. Generally, we would be lucky to have part of this equation going just some of the time. The ideal is having the full chain of events working in our lives on a regular sustained basis-This is what the new paradigm of food is striving for…

Adam Helfer (Omkara World), Ana Sophia Joanes (Director- Fresh,  the Movie), Baby Maayan, Farmer Joel Salatin (Fresh, Food Inc.)

Adam Helfer (Omkara World), Ana Sophia Joanes (Director- Fresh, the Movie), Baby Maayan, Farmer Joel Salatin (Fresh, Food Inc.)

I was reminded of the sacred aspect of food while attending a Weston A. Price meeting a couple of months ago, at which W.A.P. president Sally Fallon was speaking. She was describing a culture which Dr. Price studied when he travelled the world in the 1930’s analyzing native culture’s diets and dental and physical health. Most cultures seemed to have a “special” food they revered and honored in connection to their well-being. A specific European culture brought a candle in a bowl once a year of their special “butter oil,” which they revered for their robust health, into their church as an offering for their good health and fortune. This spontaneous gesture is eerily similar to the ancient sacred Vedic/Hindu "Puja" ceremony where a ghee (clarified butter) wick lamp is offered to the Deities/Divine. This stunning example of this European culture greatly states the clarity of mind and realization that can occur when a culture is connected into the entire process that goes into the organic, real food they eat.

Although this new paradigm of food sounds appealing to all, we can have our own excuses and reasons for not being able to apply it to our daily lives: “We won’t have enough time to do all that is necessary, it will cost too much,” etc... Salatin exclaimed that we all make decisions with our time, money, and energy: we follow all our sports, listen to our music, follow our celebrities, and spend money in all these various areas and then some. He gave an example of a woman who spoke at a conference he attended. She had a successful career, but found herself trapped in these thoughts of “no time, no energy, money was tight, and not enough motivation.” One day she exclaimed enough was enough and she started the process of the “re-connect.” For one year she stopped all frivolous spending on travel, entertainment, and various activities. She then invested that time, energy and money into discovering the magic and vastness of her local sustainable food culture- her life was changed.

We all have our choices to make with this precious life- Let’s aim to connect again. If you need some direction, please check out the past article on “Fresh” for more information- also please join their mailing list to get updated on their theatrical release that is coming soon!- Take some time to look into the sustainable food movement in your own area also- Let’s all do our part to push this movement to the cutting edge.

Adam is a Reiki Master, certified Health and Lifestyle counselor, Licensed Massage Therapist, 20 year practicing bramana initiated Bhakti Yogi, Spiritual advisor, visionary, jock and veteran of the “hardcore punk scene” all rolled into one. Adam is the founder of Omkara World and produced the mind/body fitness DVD “Intelligent Fitness."

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