AUBURN — Know where your food came from. Buy local. Buy organic.
That was the message Tuesday as Lewiston-Auburn’s One Book/One Community campaign spread to the movies with a free screening of the documentary “Food Inc.”
The Oscar-nominated film traces the origins of the food that appears on store shelves and in drive-through windows, taking people to the massive meat factories where thousands of animals are slaughtered every day. Sometimes stories in the 94-minute film look at big companies such as Monsanto and Tyson, their overwhelming dominance in food production and how it has changed people’s health.
When it was over, organic farmer David Colson of Durham sighed at the front of the theater and asked: “Anybody want a hamburger?”
Some people laughed. Others groaned.
“After watching the movie, I’m a little depressed about the whole situation,” Colson said. “But there are alternatives out there.”
Those alternatives are at the heart of the Lewiston and Auburn libraries’ campaign. This year, the book they’ve chosen is “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver. It’s a nonfiction account of her family’s work to eat food produced near their home in rural Virginia. The two libraries are stocking extra copies of the book and several local bookstores are selling it at reduced prices. The film screening was one of 20 campaign events that are scheduled through May.
People packed the showing at Auburn’s Flagship Cinemas. The movie began with serene farm scenes and a narrator’s voice.
“The way we eat has changed more in the last 50 years than in the previous 10,000,” author Eric Schlosser said. The food supply in the country is a “pastoral fantasy.”
What followed included graphic images of the slaughter houses, inhumane treatment of the animals and production overwhelming in its scale. One plant showed pigs being lowered onto a “killing floor” for slaughter at a rate of 2,000 an hour.
One remedy is to buy locally, Colson said.
“Most of the farmers I know are proud to be able to show people their cows and their fields,” he said.
Lewiston-Auburn College professor and farmer Mark Silber of Sumner encouraged people to read their labels and buy local. He also asked them to grow their own food, even if it’s just a little.
“Then you know where it came from, just like a mother who’s given birth knows where her child came from,” he said.