What Susan Rockefeller Really Thinks About Big Ag

What Susan Rockefeller Really Thinks About Big Ag

Conservation and sustainability are part of Susan Rockefeller’s DNA. Growing up in a nature-loving household, where home-cooked meals made with ingredients sourced from the local farmers’ market were a part of daily life, she was instilled with certain values about food from an early age. “We didn’t really have any processed foods,” says Rockefeller. “I remember going to my friends’ houses and eating Mallomars, but my mom’s idea of snacks were fresh peaches.”

Food for Thought, Food for Life is the product of ideas Rockefeller has been thinking about for decades. In making the film, she wanted to start a conversation about what we eat and where our food comes from.

The 22-minute documentary is the latest by the award-winning director, conservationist, designer, and philanthropist and aims to bring everyone to the table in order to address today’s food systems and what we all can do to make lasting changes.

Produced in association with Louverture Films (cofounded by Danny Glover and Joslyn Barnes), the film addresses the downsides of current agribusiness practices but also introduces us to farmers, chefs, researchers, educators, and advocates offering solutions. From the forward-thinking practices of chef Dan Barber and Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture to guerrilla gardener Ron Finley’s transformation of urban neighborhoods, Food for Thought, Food for Life illustrates some of the ways in which communities are starting a real food revolution.

Filled with the words of environmentalist Wendell Berry, the sounds of off-the-grid indie band Cloud Cult (they have an organic garden at their studio), and visually enhanced with time-lapse reels of sprouting seeds, plus images of earth-inspired artwork, the film integrates both art and science in a way that goes beyond the talking heads. “Agribusiness disconnects us from the land, and I wanted to reconnect us by showing the beauty and mystery of the world” Rockefeller says. “Art is a universal language, and I wanted to use that as a tool to talk about science and advocacy.”

Unlike other food politics films, Rockefeller’s documentary wraps on an optimistic note, with hope and inspiration for communities that are ready to disrupt the status quo and start making a difference.

“My goal is to empower people to take small actions that produce big changes,” Rockefeller says. “Conversation leads to collaboration, and together we can find local and global solutions that help the planet and ourselves.”

Food for Thought, Food for Life will be released online on October 24.