America seems to have an insatiable appetite for food-themed TV shows, from celebrity chef cook-offs or reality shows to culinary gross-outs and scary pseudo-cooking spokesmodels. But while some of these shows have begun to slip in tiny tastes of food politics, whether about school lunches or organically grown produce, for the most part you will not find animal welfare, pesticides, genetically modified food, seed monopolies, or farmworker rights on the menu.
Because, it seems, most TV executives think Americans will find those topics unappetizing (unless, perhaps, a cheeky Englishman is talking about it). They certainly aren’t going to help sell Froot Loops.
San Francisco-based food journalist Stett Holbrook and documentary filmmakers Todd Dayton and Greg Roden are betting otherwise. They’re in the middle of raising the money to shoot a pilot episode of “Food Forward,” which will focus on “people who are changing how we eat in America.” Instead of the dire, depressing images of the Oscar-nominated documentary Food, Inc., they’re looking at the people who’ve rejected the industrial model in favor of small-scale, sustainable food production.
It’s like Grist’s New Agtivist series brought to life. The beautifully shot trailer features urban farmer Abeni Ramsey (the Community Market Farms Coordinator for City Slicker Farm); school-food reformer Ann Cooper; Santa Cruz fisherman Hans Haveman (H&H Fresh Fish); and grass-fed beef rancher Joe Morris.
Now if only it could get on the air. San Francisco’s PBS station, KQED, has agreed to run the pilot once it’s finished. Holbrook & Co. just need to raise $125,000 to do so. There’s a pricy fund-raising dinner August 3 at Radius restaurant, which will feature Righteous Porkchop author Nicolette Hahn Niman, and Holbrook told me in an email just now that a PayPal donation button will be on the site shortly for those who want to help.
Because while the time is more than ripe for this show, chances are slim you’ll be seeing it on the Food Network.