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review of fresh by a young chicken

Posted: December 16 2009

Fresh the movie. We're getting our copy this week. 
By Orren Fox
Orren Fox is 12 years old and lives in NoBo (North of Boston). He goes to school where there is a greenhouse and a bee hive! Orren has 24 chickens and four ducks (three Call Ducks and one beautiful Mandarin). He is really interested in farming and the ethical treatment of animals. Orren would love to change the way egg layers and meat birds are raised. He says he has a lot to learn. He blogs and tweets about these issues.

I have watched FRESH about 6 times. I just love it, it makes me feel great. You have to go see it if you care about what goes into your body. Try this. Close your eyes and imagine a dark barn with the floor covered in a material that says on the package “may irritate eyes or lungs” and the barn is filled to the brim with chickens. These chickens that have been bred to grow so fast that often they can’t stand up as they grow and when they die they stay on the floor of the barn. The dead birds aren’t removed. Oh and the hens that are alive are fed dead hens that have been ground up and added to their feed. Hmm. Not sure you want to eat that. Now imagine a green pasture with an electric fence that keeps predators out but hens in. They have lots of space to roam and forage. They are in the sun. They can dust bathe. What do you think? Which would you rather support? Watch FRESH.
After watching FRESH I just want to go to the barn and sing to my chickens, the way Joel Salatin “sings” to his pigs, “Here piggy piggy”. Guess what, they come to greet him. Of course they do! Mr. Salatin is a farmer who is using sustainable practices instead of industrialized methods. He is a wonderful, inspiring “lunatic” farmer. His pigs wander about, eat grass, root around, roll in the mud, smile, sing, and wiggle their tails – which haven’t been “trimmed” – most pigs raised in confinement have their tails trimmed so they don’t gnaw at them when they get frustrated being in such close confinement. Actually think about that, confined pigs gnaw at their tails because they are so mad. I would too. It isn’t good for the pigs to live in teeny tiny spaces, it pisses them off! This is the way most pigs are raised in factory farms or confinement farms. In fact one of the stories in FRESH is about a conventional/confinement pig farmer who was gored by one of his angry pigs. He, the farmer, almost died. He talks about how for years and years he had been continually treating his pigs with antibiotics, to keep them “healthy.” The funny thing is his pigs weren’t healthy. They were a petri dish (my science teacher will be happy I used this term) for growing stronger and stronger bacteria. The bacteria kept changing to respond to the antibiotic. So when his angry male pig gored the farmer the bacteria was so strong that the usual human antibiotics couldn’t treat him. Scary. So actually his “healthy” pigs were crazy “sick.” He stopped doing that and now raises pigs in a different way. No antibiotics, pasture raised. Healthy pigs.
This is what is so awesome about FRESH. You get to hear the stories of farmers from all over the United States who have decided to raise food in a different way from the “conventional” way. It is so inspiring. Conventional agriculture focus is more and faster. The focus isn’t the taste of the food, or the welfare of the animals / farm workers, or the well being of the environment / community but instead of raising and growing as quickly and cheaply as possible. I think they might argue that this is how you feed the world. I think there is another way having watched FRESH.
FRESH also tells the story about my hero Will Allen and Growing Power, his non-profit that raises lots of food on 3 acres in the middle of Milwaukee. The middle of a city, not farmland, a city. At Growing Power they have several greenhouses, hoop houses, ducks, turkeys, a chicken coop, a very ingenious system to raise perch / tailapia and beehives. Will Allen likes to say he “grows soil”. Awesome. He loves worms. I love worms, they are quite amazing workers. Perhaps the most awesome thing is at Growing Power they collect food “waste” in Milwaukee and feed it to the worms to turn into “black gold”. It is cool that Will Allen thinks food “waste” is valuable. It is! Think of all the hard work that went into growing/raising all the food, now imagine throwing it out. Not cool. By seeing him in the movie I think he proves that growing food is just about possible anywhere.
FRESH is inspirational and challenges you to think about food – What is really in the food you are eating? Where was it grown? How was the animal raised? Were pesticides used? The interesting thing is people say to me “If the pesticides were bad for you they wouldn’t spray it on food”. I’m sure this is what the manufacturers of the pesticide would say too. I bet the manufacturers may even have ’science – based information’ to prove it. Well I guess it just doesn’t seem to add up to me. Maybe I am naive. Actually I am sure I am naive, but think about it, the chemicals are sprayed to kill things, now it is on my food. See what I mean, it doesn’t add up. It probably won’t kill you, but something that is applied and meant to kill just can’t be nutritious. So ask about your food, why not. Some people care more about the quality of the oil they put into their car than they do the quality of the food they put into their body. Odd. Watch FRESH and be inspired to go find food that tastes great and was raised in a way that you agree with.