Inspiring and rich, INGREDIENTS unearths the roots of the local food movement and digs into the stories of the chefs, farmers and activists transforming our broken food system. This upbeat, beautifully-photographed film introduces us to the verdant farms and pioneering restaurants where good food is produced and served. From innovative farm-to-table programs in Harlem to picturesque sheep farms in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, INGREDIENTS shows the heart of an alternative food system – healthy, sustainable and tasty.
Through interviews with world-class chefs such as Alice Waters and Greg Higgins and sustainability-minded farmers in Oregon, New York and Ohio, INGREDIENTS weaves an uplifting tale that is equal parts earthy rebellion and mouth-watering homage. Narrated by Bebe Neuwirth and directed by Robert Bates, INGREDIENTS is a fun, open-minded film that will satiate both veteran slow-food fans and the uninitiated alike.
Moving from Colony, in which we looked at the disappearance of the honey bees, to Ingredients seemed almost natural (though perhaps in backwards order—you need the honey bees to make the local farms we see in Ingredients thrive). While honey bees are definitely not the focus of this film, both follow a similar thread in how important these unforeseen or unbeknownst elements are. While generations past grew up knowing everything there is to know about farming and the food that we can produce for ourselves, our neighbors, and our community we’re to the point now that we (as in my generation and beyond) don’t know and/or care about such “dated” things. While it’s true that it’s rather pathetic, it’s just the way of things; out of sight, out of mind. If we go to the grocery store and there is fresh food to buy amid the pre-packaged frozen entrees, why should we think about the source of the tomatoes? Well we might wonder more about that as prices go up, but prices aren’t what Ingredients is about—it’s about learning to appreciate food that we can grow ourselves as well as just how downright tasty it all is.
The documentary, brainchild of producer Brian Kimmel, is a very in-depth and engaging look at local farmlands and the people that run them. We focus not only on these elements but also the integration that local farmers and chefs are attempting to help build up in an effort to encourage healthier eating. We cover a wide variety of land in the US and throughout it all it becomes more than a documentary and more a genuine story about the efforts of the various chefs and farmers that are attempting to reform our current shaky way of eating in the US. Of course it all boils down to hard work and finding the right people to pair up with to help deliver world class ingredients in restaurants and the like, but that is really just one of the many points this film ends up driving home: our system is so broken as is, it’s going to take a lot to fix it.
Of course this documentary has a few grandiose quotes on the cover (including a quote from the Obama’s chef) as well as a few awards, but as pompous as that usually makes a documentary come off it just isn’t the case with this one. It’s hard to fault any kind of film for wanting to make you eat better and help transform the system we currently have. Overall Ingredients is a film worth a Rental; I hesitate to say it’s anything more than that simply because it left an impression on me, just not an indelible one. On top of that if you watch this film when you’re hungry then chances are it might make you quite upset that all you have is a bag of microwave popcorn…
New Video/docuramafilms brings Ingredients to DVD in a standard amaray DVD case. Nothing overly special about the presentation of the documentary here—no fancy exterior cardboard slipcase and the cover itself looks rather simplistic. Video and audio is a solid presentation overall and about what you’d expect from a documentary. As can be expected from a documentary the video is in 1.85:1 and the audio is a simple DD2.0 mix. Extras include:
Extended Interview with Alice Waters
Slow Food vs. Fast Food
4 Seasonal Stories
Overall a disc that’s worth a Rental as I’m not sure if you’d ever want to come back and watch this a second time, but it’s definitely worth checking out at least once.
Ingredients arrives on DVD on March 29th.