Regardless of how “green” we consider ourselves, we’re all concerned about the quality of the food we put on our own plates and serve to our families. Tonight, the Sundance Channel’s The Green explores the world of food, from farm to plate. It’s award-winning series Big Ideas for a Small Planet profiles a large food processor, a wine-maker, and a New Mexico high school student who are all doing their part to reject industrial-scale agriculture, and the bland, homogeneous food it produces. Following that, Sundance presents the documentary All In This Tea from directors Les Blank (Burden of Dreams) and Gina Leibrecht.
I took the time to sit down and watch “Food” last night, and, as with previous episodes of Big Ideas for a Small Planet, found it compelling and thoughtful. Amy’s Kitchen founders Andy and Rachel Berliner tell the story of founding their family-owned company, and holding firm to their commitment to using only fresh, organic food (which is largely processed by hand) in the pre-packaged meals they sell. Viewers go with them to one of the organic farms from which they buy, and get some insight into the process of growing vegetables without chemicals. From there, the show moves to Twin Buttes High School in New Mexico, where students (who are all Zuni tribe members) didn’t just reject their school lunches: they started a garden to grow food for the cafeteria, and even won a grant to build a greenhouse. Finally, the episode takes viewers to Sonoma Valley, California, where the Benzinger Family Winery produces its award-winning vintages from biodynamically-grown grapes. These stories are interspersed with commentary from a range of experts, including David Suzuki, Anna Lappé, and Simran Sethi.
While Sundance provides preview copies of Big Ideas for a Small Planet to the press, that’s not the case with documentaries, so I haven’t yet seen All In This Tea. According to their press materials, the film profiles David Lee Hoffman, the founder of Silk Road Teas:
All In This Tea looks at the history, traditions and intricacies of tea and joins Hoffman on a buying trip to China, where he seeks out small, artisanal growers and tries to persuade Chinese officials to turn away from industrial production in favor of handcrafted, environmentally sustainable tea farming.
Looks like another night of must-see TV on the Sundance Channel. If you’ve missed any episodes of Big Ideas for a Small Planet, don’t fret: they’re all available on ITunes after they air ($1.99/episode). And if you’ve got big ideas of your own to share, don’t forget about the “What’s the Big Idea?” contest, sponsored by Lexus Hybrid Living.