Director Andrew Beck Grace screened his award-winning documentary Eating Alabama on Tuesday evening,before an appreciative audience of Chattanoogans concerned about local food and sustainability. Several hundred first watched the film in the GPS Frierson Theatre and then enjoyed a conversation with the director/producer, peppering him with questions about his year-long quest to eat only Alabama-sourced food and what steps people can take to augment their meals with locally grown fare.
Representatives of Gaining Ground, a Benwood Foundation-supported initiative, were present to share their newsletter. Their program is part of “a growing movement of local growers, sellers and others who are committed to increasing the production and consumption of local food in the Chattanooga region” and can be found online as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
During the day, Mr. Grace was in GPS classrooms, with small groups at lunch, and at the GPS garden, sharing his opinions about community, storytelling, and the dilemma of too few small farmers able to earn a living off the land. “What is it like to eat only locally grown food?” he asked the students. “Wouldn’t that be a better way to live?”
At the GPS garden, Mr. Grace shared his feeling that “it’s important to eat good food, so the extra money [that you may have to spend] is worth it, and you’re supporting your local community at the same time!” Most food, he reminded the students and the evening audience, “travels 1500 miles before you eat it.”
He also said that we spend less money on food now than we used to. “People get mad when the price of milk goes up, but in reality, that new price of milk is still less than what people used to pay,” he said.
A professor at the University of Alabama, Mr. Grace told the digital storytelling class that his “understanding of the South comes from stories” his grandfather told. He encouraged them to “go into the world, meet people who aren’t like you, and tell their story.”