Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Watching FRESH with my five year old

FRESH the movie is streaming for free until tomorrow, so I thought I'd finally get around to watching it, and write a review. Eleven seconds in, Joel Salatin starts calling, "Pig, pig, pig, pig" and my 5 year old son, Vincent, ran over to the laptop to take a look. I had a brilliant idea. I would watch the movie with him and then use his insights to write a review from a child's point of view. You, blog audience, would eat it up.

Happy to be exploited for purposes of education.

We watched the pigs happily graze the pasture, and I remarked on how healthy they looked. I explained what "inconvenience" meant when Vincent asked, and guided his responses to the subsequent shots of supermarket packages - "That doesn't even look like food, does it?". I was being so educational!

And didactic. Then, at 2:29, the crates of baby chickens appeared on screen and Vincent was instantly on the verge of tears. "Why are they in cages?!"

And from that point on, I let him lead the viewing. We talked about the metaphor of the factory being applied to all areas of life. He asked what monocropping meant and we talked about the benefits of biodiversity. He was fascinated by the pictures of fluorescent bacteria, and we talked about antibiotic resistance. Half way through the movie, he started putting ideas together about how we could keep weeds out of our garden without using chemicals. "We could put a small greenhouse in it with not too many cracks and a small door so it would be hard for weeds to get in, plus there would be a fence of corn outside it, to keep the plants that are living healthy."

Then he threw me for another loop. As we were learning about the nutrient cycling through the tilapia tanks at Will Allen's Growing Power, Vincent said, "I think the fish should be free to swim about." Hmm. "Well," I hedged, "People think that fish don't have the same kind of ...brains... and feelings... as..." He stared me down. "I think they should have lots of room to swim about."

I didn't come up with a good answer for that one, but I know the topic will come up again - and it should. These are big questions - what makes us human, yet animal, and how do we decide what sentience is? How and why do we, and should we, play gods? What is our role in the food system?

Watch this movie with your kids! Or grab someone else's kid and watch with them. I promise you that you will learn something you didn't know, and see something in a new way.


  1. I might have try watching Fresh with our grandson, I have seen it before but never thought to watch and discuss it with him. The question "How and why do we, and should we, play gods?" as it applies to animals is something I think of quite often.

  2. Mr. H., I'd be interested in hearing some of your thoughts on playing god(s). I am interested in the line we draw between ourselves and animals in many ways...