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Who Owns Your Food?

Documentary film examines genetically modified food and our food future

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To raise awareness of how food production trends are growing beyond the farmer driving his crops to market, local business owner Midge Woods is bringing the documentary, The Future of Food, to her Spirit at Work Books and Beyond Events Centre on Orchard Street this week.

"It's possible the process of food coming from a farm to wherever will change because certain companies own the patent on the feed process. This film is about the future of genetically modified food and who owns the patent on modified food. It touches on this information about the complex web of the market and political forces changing what we eat and who has control of food systems."

Woods says that today, Americans give little thought to how food is processed and where the seed to grow our food is coming from.

"Others need to think about this and we need to become aware," says Woods. "I wasn't aware of the revolution about what's happening to our food supply until I saw [The Future of Food]."

Woods says that after viewing the film a few weeks ago, she decided to bring the film to Boise in hopes the documentary would be a catalyst for Boiseans to demand a more open and honest dialogue about how American produce hits supermarket shelves.

A recognition of the need for that dialogue is what prompted filmmaker Deborah Koons Garcia to spend three years touring the United States, Canada and Mexico making the documentary.

Garcia, the widow of late Grateful Dead front man Jerry Garcia, became a vegetarian 35 years ago. Although she considered herself well informed about the food she ate, Garcia realized there was much she didn't know.

"I didn't know food was genetically engineered or that there were patents on seeds or that chemical companies owned those patents. And if we don't increase awareness and enhance the positive changes that are happening in food [with organic farmers and local markets], in five years we will find ourselves in a different food as far as the food we eat."

Garcia and Woods say that as more people are asking for better, organic food, other changes are happening under the radar.

"Part of awareness has to do with understanding what genetic engineering is and how that's become part of the food supply," Garcia said. "There's also problem with the chemical companies buying up seed companies, the use of herbicides, pesticides and other problems that there are alternatives for."

Garcia paid for filming herself at a cost of "several hundred thousand dollars." She hired the cameraman, an editor and another producer.

Woods expects about 70 people at the showing, which at $5 each would cover the cost of screening the film.

"People are interested in the food they eat and for the most part, we're not clearly aware of the situation. I can understand genetically produced seeds could be more cost-effective, but there are two sides. On one hand, it creates more products and more produce, but on the other hand, a lot of questions need to be asked."

Woods hopes that the screening of The Future of Food will begin to raise those questions and that it "will give people the opportunity to start asking in a comfortable environment."

The Future of Food shows Saturday, December 17, at 7 p.m. at the Spirit At Work Books and Beyond Event Centre on 710 N. Orchard St. Tickets are $5. For information, call 388-4247.