“40% of food produced in the US is wasted.”
— Natural Resources Defense Council

“Just Eat It” a 74-minute award-winning documentary about the staggering amounts of food that go to waste in households and farm fields, was selected as the One Earth Film Festival’s first Festival Choice winner and screened again as such for the City of Chicago’s 2015 Earth Day Celebration on April 22. Its US broadcast premier was on MSNBC that night as well, after being featured on several MSNBC talk shows earlier that day and week.

JustEatIt-flier-8.5x11-v3The film, produced by Peg Leg Films in partnership with British Columbia’s Knowledge Network, follows producer Jenny Rustemeyer and director Grant Baldwin as they successfully live for six months only off rescued food, which they estimate to have been worth in excess of $20,000. After worry about whether they could do it, they started to give it away themselves.

The visuals to their story document the mind blowing stats. 50% of food waste is from our own homes. 20 pounds of food per person per month is thrown away. 97% of food waste goes to landfills. We are wasting energy and water growing food of which we will waste 40%.

The challenge is to change our cultural attitude so that it is no longer right to waste food; just as it is not right to litter. Expiration dates need to be revised to address safety, not just freshness. It’s ok to buy ugly bananas that aren’t perfectly curved. Value food and clean your plate like your mother told you. Perhaps, we need to bring back the posters from World War II proclaiming: Don’t Waste It!

The Institute of Cultural Affairs in the USA was a co-sponsor of the 2015 One Earth Film Festival, which screened 40 films at 31 locations around the Chicagoland region, including ICA’s GreenRise Learning Lab. Earth Day Film PanelA distinctive characteristic of the festival was the post-film programming that offered audiences an opportunity to engage with experts and environmental leaders. Chicago’s Earth Day post-film panel discussion with local experts was moderated by ICA’s senior program director Seva Gandhi.

“Just Eat It” was one of three audience favorites in the online balloting during the festival. The other two top vote getters were “Cowspiracy” and “Edible City.” A five-person jury then screened all three, reaching the decision that “Just Eat It” best merited a citywide screening.

Ana Garcia Doyle, founder and director of the One Earth Film Festival and a jury member, observes:

“Food waste has gotten lots of attention lately — from editorials in The New York Times to restaurants, school districts and municipalities taking steps to divert food from landfills that contribute to greenhouse gases. With ‘Just Eat It,’ you get a universally relatable story that addresses salient issues such as agriculture, composting, water use and climate change. It also has humor and human-powered solutions.”

I’ve blogged in the past about the Quad Cities Food Hub and their efforts to aggregate healthy food from small farmers to distribute to food deserts. I’ve blogged about the Greater Chicago Food Depository’s extensive efforts to feed the hungry. Today’s blog is one where “you too can do” something today: Don’t waste your food; Just Eat It!

Also track down or book a screening of this film and invite your friends.

This week’s U2Cando lyrics are Weird Al Yankovic’s rewrite of a Michael Jackson classic:

Rejected BananasHave a banana, have a whole bunch
It doesn’t matter what you had for lunch
Just eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it
Eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it

Eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it
If it’s gettin’ cold, reheat it
Have a big dinner, have a light snack
If you don’t like it, you can’t send it back
Just eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it


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