Mountainfilm takes on food supplies
April 7, 2009
TELLURIDE ” MountainFilm, the four-day film-based exploration of ideas and action held every Memorial Day weekend in Telluride, this year is turning its attention to food.
Don’t get the wrong idea. The festival, which started out in 1978 with the showing of several films about climbing mountains, is not trying to bump the Aspen’s Food and Wine Festival or any of the other festivals devoted to the exquisite aspects of chocolate eclairs and fine wines.
Rather, the festival is devoting itself to the big idea of food.
“With one billion people on this planet overweight and another 800 millions starving, today’s food system is clearly broken,’ said David Holbrooke, the festival director.
The Moving Mountains Symposium on May 22, will examine how the planet can feed the 2.8 billion additional people projected for 2050.
Bill McKibben, the keynote speaker, is best known for his writings about the need to address climate-changing air pollution. However, at the festival he will talk about what he sees as the systemic and serious weaknesses in current methods of large-scale agriculture. He will also describe a new paradigm for food, one that he says is based on sustainability and equity.
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Among the other presenters will be the acclaimed chef Ming Tsai, the emcee. Yale-educated as a mechanical engineer, Tsai has achieved fame from his acclaimed East-West restaurant in the Boston area. He also has had a national television show for six years.
National Geographic Magazine, which recently had a story titled “The End of Cheap Food,” will also participate, with executive editor Dennis Dimmick talking about the increasing pressures on the Earth’s systems from crop choices and the changing climate.
Another speaker will be Gene Baur, the founder of Farm Sanctuary, an activist group that is working to end cruelty to farm animals. Pamela Ronald, chair of the Plant Geronomics Program at the University of California, will argue that a successful future of food will need sensible approaches to both organic farming and genetically modified foods.
The main portion of the festival is devoted to films, many of them specifically devoted to mountains and mountaineering, punctuated by appearances of film-makers and other notable individuals.
But always there has been much more, a trend accentuated in recent years.