Excerpts for a world of good

Prolific pepper producer Hilario Alvarez shows off an abundance of peppers that brighten up many Seattle area farmers markets.

There is a revival afoot with food and farmers.

Whidbey Island is only one of a myriad of populations across the world that is looking toward a daily life that includes locally grown food on everyone’s table.

“Good Food,” the latest film from Whidbey Island filmmakers Melissa Young and Mark Dworkin, is a documentary that looks at the sustainable farmers and the farming and distribution practices of the Pacific Northwest.

The film will premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival in June.

A screening of excerpts from that film will be shown at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 24 at Mukilteo Coffee Company on Crawford Road in Langley.

Islanders can help celebrate the revival of local sustainable farming in the Northwest and the beginning of the new growing season.

Local farmers will bring some of their earliest spring greens for a mini-market that evening in anticipation of the opening of the Tilth Farmers Market on Saturday, May 3.

With the advent of the impossible-to-ignore issues of global warming, rising energy prices and tainted beef and spinach from the industrial food system, “Good Food” takes a hopeful look at what is already happening to bring consumers healthy, sustainably-raised food.

The film features growers of organic fruits, vegetables and grass fed meats.

It includes a look at some of the stores, restaurants and other businesses that are making a point to buy sustainably grown products, as well as the increasingly popular farmers markets across the state.

The filmmakers screened excerpts of “Good Food” to a packed room at the Seattle Green Festival last week.

“It felt like the prelude to the Seattle International Film Festival premiere,” Young said.

“I chalk up the attendance to the growing interest in knowing where our food comes from and wanting fresher, more sustainably-raised food.”

Young said a lively discussion followed the screening and included farmers, green business owners and consumers who were all there to offer advice and some critiques of the current industrial food system, she said.

Young said people really wanted to know how to get the very freshest food. Besides shopping at local farmers markets, the talk segued to other ideas about shopping locally and engaging in community supported agriculture, where a family contracts with a particular farm to provide them a box of fresh food each week of the growing season.

As the folks from local organizations like Transition Whidbey and Farm2Table can confirm, CSAs are becoming prolific on Whidbey Island.

“What we set out to do with the film is to look at the growing sustainable food system in our region, and to encourage people to participate,” Young said. “The enthusiastic response on Sunday was a taste of our being able to fulfill that purpose.”

The film explores the practices of farmers in the Methow Valley where folks like Brooke and Sam Lucy of Bluebird Grain Farms are producing organic wheat for local and national distribution.

Country Natural Beef founders Doc and Connie Hatfield are filmed discussing how their grazing techniques actually improve the high desert environment. And farmer Hilario Alvarez of Sunnyside shows off his profusion of peppers that brighten up farmers markets all over the state.

These and other stories take the viewer right onto the farms where ingenious, hard-working producers are helping create a more sustainable food system, Young said.

The filmmakers have found a bounty of support for the project including Moving Images, South Whidbey Tilth and the Mukilteo Coffee Company.

Another sponsor is local activist and the Slow Food Convivium of Whidbey Island founder Michael Hearl.

Hearl will be on hand to speak to the slow food movement, the ethos of eating seasonally and locally while also providing a taste of local food.

During the show at the Mukilteo Coffee Company, the cafe will also offer soup, sandwiches, beer, wine and coffee for purchase at the event. The suggested minimum donation is $10, with contributions going to the non-profit Moving Images to help pay for music rights incurred while creating “Good Food.”

Some of the music in the film features local musicians Jack Knauer, Fredde Butterworth and Tom Hoeflich.

After its premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival, “Good Food” will be shown at venues throughout Washington and Oregon in collaboration with sustainable food and farming organizations.

The producers anticipate that the film will be broadcast on public television, like many of their previous productions.

Screened in succession with excerpts from “Good Food” will be the sequel “Argentina Turning Around,” Young and Dworkin’s recently released followup to their award winning “Argentina-Hope in Hard Times.”

A short version of “Argentina Turning Around” has been selected as one of 12 films slated for the highly competitive national Media That Matters 2008 film festival with a New York premiere of which Young and Dworkin will attend in late May.

A YES magazine review of that film and a preview are online at http://www.yesmagazine.org/article.asp?id=2317.

Patricia Duff can be reached at 221-5300 or pduff@southwhidbeyrecord.com.‘Good Food’ screening

When: 7 p.m. Thursday, April 24.

Where: Mukilteo Coffee Company at

5331 Crawford Road in Langley.

Info: $10 suggested minimum donation to cover production costs.