I always tell people one of the pleasures of working at IdahoPTV is the fact that producers get to pursue projects they are passionate about. In my case, I love food. I cook for myself. I cook for my friends. For me, making a delicious dish from scratch is incredibly therapeutic. I believe the act of sharing food brings people together and sparks great conversations.
So when I got the green light to produce an Outdoor Idaho about the local food scene in Idaho - I was ecstatic! Production began in the summer of 2009. Since then, we've traveled all over the state to gather video and sound. We will continue to put the finishing touches on the show right up until the July 15 premiere.
What does it mean to eat local? For some, it's a 100-mile diet. For others, it's sourcing food that's grown or produced within the region they live in. The overall message? It's about supporting local farmers, building local economies, and eating healthy, nutritious food that does not rely on lots of fossil fuels to get to our tables.
I was pretty shocked to learn that most of our food travels about 1,500 miles before reaching the supermarket shelves. According to food experts, Idahoans bring in about 98% of our food from out of state. If disaster were to strike, it's not clear we would be able to feed ourselves because we have lost so many processing and canning facilities.
In the course of reporting for this documentary, we learned there is a growing number of Idahoans who are passionate about reversing the problems that have become inherent with the food system, including rampant food poisoning and diet issues related to the prolific use of high fructose corn syrup and soybeans in processed foods.
Our crew had a lot of fun meeting the farmers we feature in the program. Their transparency and commitment toward sustainable farming practices made it easy for us to shoot some really great video of life on the modern farm. Janie Burns of Meadowlark Farm is one of the leading voices in the local food scene and raises sheep using organic methods. Mary Rohlfing of Morning Owl Farm introduced us to her flock of ducks. They are the cutest creatures! They eat the weeds on her farm and lay eggs. Josie and Clay Erskine of Peaceful Belly Farm grow dozens of various crops on their organic farm and showed us how community supported agriculture (CSA) shares are nourishing families every week.
To see what can be done with local ingredients, we headed to Hailey to meet Chris and Rebecca Kastner of CK's Real Food. They offer a seasonal menu, grow their own garden, and pride themselves in developing unique dishes that highlight the best that area producers have to offer. Idaho's Bounty, the online co-op, is using online technology to find new markets for local food and to distribute that food in the Treasure and Wood River valleys.
All around the state, farmers markets are becoming places where people can connect again. We met too many producers and local "foodies" to list here, so I look forward to sharing their stories with viewers in July!
What struck me about all the people we interviewed is how they are driven by business motives that are balanced with a sense of duty to feed people healthy, wholesome food using sustainable methods.
After watching "Eating Local," you may never look at your food the same way again! At the very least, I think you'll be inspired by what Idaho farmers have to offer - and wonder whether we're capable of producing even more of our own food.