Saturday, December 3, 2016

DVDebut: Food waste gets its comeuppance in Baldwin/Rustemeyer's doc, JUST EAT IT

How much perfectly edible and nutritious food do the "haves" of the world waste yearly? The answer will stop you in your tracks, as will so much else in this new, highly entertaining and quite thought-provoking documentary, JUST EAT IT: A Food Waste Story. From filmmakers/participants Grant Baldwin (he directed, edited, photographed, handled the music and co-stars) and Jenny Rustemeyer (she produced and also co-stars in the doc), the movie shows us what these two filmmakers (shown below) feel, think and then tackle -- once they're made aware of just how much food the world wastes.

After explaining how most of the world's wasted food is both safe and nutritious, Grant and Jenny decide to try to live for six months entirely on discarded food, and they bring us along for the ride. This could prove too cute and silly by far, but we spend only part of our time on this experiment. The rest of the film is filled with smart and timely interviews with food-and-its-waste experts who talk about everything from the huge quantities of fruit and vegetables (these are the most wasted foods) constantly tossed away (that's Tristram Stuart, below, with a busload of wasted bananas)... the results of dairy and livestock on this waste, as well as waste's impact on our energy sources. At one point we are told that "The water embedded in the food we throw out could meet the household needs of 500 million people." Just watch what happens to a full stalk of celery as it is prepared for 'market' and you'll cringe.

We learn about how appearance counts for so much more than nutrition in the buying habits of most consumers (whether shopping at supermarkets or farmers' markets) and how it has been a very long time since there were any public service announcements about food waste (we watch popular 1940s-50s actor Jack Carson make a Don't-Waste-Food plea during World War II).

And yes, we also watch as our couple takes to dumpster-diving to find food to keep them going over those six months. What they find is as eye-opening as all else. I think it was Jen (or maybe Grant) who tells us, "If you could see the quality of the food we find, we've been eating pretty well!" The problems with landfills and waste, how food scraps can make for a productive business (pigs love 'em!), what sell-by dates really mean, and a special kind of grocery store and how it serves its specific public (the fellow shown below is a proud worker in that store) -- all of this and more is included in a documentary that rarely loses momentum nor importance as it gets its message out.

Best of all are the many ways the movie shows us how we, too, can make a difference via our own "food" behavior: using what's in our refrigerators rather than eventually tossing it all out, shopping more sensibly, and choosing those not-so-pretty fruits and veggies that most consumers have already bypassed in their shopping.

From Bullfrog Films, distributed here in the USA by Icarus Home Video and available to view in two formats on the disc -- the 73-minute theatrical version, as well as a 50-minute classroom cut -- Just Eat It hits the street on DVD this coming Tuesday, December 6, for purchase and/or rental.

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