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Wild At Heart movie review - A Place At The Table

Wild Bill Ketelhut provides the "blog" to this anti-blog

Wild At Heart

Hunger is not something I am personally familiar with. Sure, I have a few times when I was starving waiting for dinner to be served but I have never had to wonder where my next meal was coming from like the people in the new documentary "A Place At The Table". In the documentary, they refer to it as "food insecurity". Food security is a measure of ensured access to essential nutrition that refers to a household's or country's ability to provide future physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that fulfills the dietary needs and food preferences for living an active and healthy lifestyle. Being familiar with projects like "USA For Africa" and other third world programs, this documentary focuses instead on the homefront.

The documentary states 49 million people in the US, including 1 in 4 children, have no idea where there next meal is coming from. The film frames the issue through three people including a single mother trying to build a better life for her kids, a fifth-grader who depends on friends to feed her and a second-grader whose asthma and health issues are influenced by her eating habits. Directors Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush do a great job making us feel for these people and put a very human face on this important issue. The stories are buffered by interviews with insights from sociologist Janet Poppendieck, Top Chef Tom Colicchio, actor Jeff Bridges and other specialists to bring home the important economic, social and cultural concerns our nation faces.

There are a few things I got out of this film such as that when people are poor, they still can afford food but the food they are eating is not always healthy for them. Junk food is cheaper than healthy food and when you don't have a lot of extra money corners get cut. Face it, soda pop is cheaper than orange juice, cookies are cheaper than fresh vegetables and hot dogs are cheaper than chicken. This is why we can have obese people that are still categorized as being influenced by food insecurity because they are eating a lot of sugary, high calorie food. Don't forget we are having less phys ed in schools and more sedentary activities like video games competing with outdoor fun.

Next, politicians always say that "no child should be left behind" but put policies in place that don't always help those in need. You want to fund healthier meals for school kids and you take that money from food stamps which eventually means worse or no food at home. That is the cycle of indifference that we see in Washington. A lot of government programs that were implemented, and seemed to be somewhat working, were lessened or underfunded in the 1980's. This happened so Washington could spend money on their pet projects and let various charities start taking over the burden of providing for the hunger through food kitchens and the like.

This documentary does a good job at presenting the issue without getting heavy handed but showing the seriousness it presents to this country. Looking at the increases in obesity and various food related health issues, not to mention a multitude of other issues such as having fewer healthy kids for our military, less attention by students in the classroom, etc, we are spending more to treat the symptoms of food insecurity that to use our resources properly in combating this concern. The documentary walks a line but basically gets to the point that our biggest threat with this issue is "inaction" which seems to be the way politics works nowadays. This is a wonderful documentary and should be seen to really drive home the importance of the issue.

I give "A Place At The Table" an A- and it will be opening today at the Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak.