“Food is a weapon,” says Vandana Shiva, a brilliant scientist born in the rural Himalayas, often referred to as the “Gandhi of grain.”
“When you sell real weapons, you control armies,” she says in The Seeds of Vandana Shiva, a film to be featured at the Tahoe Food Hub on June 15. “When you control food, you control society. But when you control seeds, you control life on Earth.”
For 40 years, Shiva has waged a battle against powerful multinational corporations that rule the world’s food systems. At the heart of her work is a belief that the natural earth systems can support us, if we support them, yet greed and degenerative agricultural practices are creating an untenable situation for life on earth.
As much as she may be a doomsayer, Shiva is also a harbinger of hope. The 70-year-old believes that 40% of our climate crisis solutions lies in ecological organic farming in the hands of small farmers. She sees that the dirt beneath our feet is the solution to our ills. And she’s not alone.
Here, friends, is the underlying genesis of Tahoe’s inaugural “Dirty Movies” series. In three featured films, moviegoers will learn how being ‘dirty’ is a mighty force, how agriculture can fight climate change, how reconnecting to food pathways is healing indigenous tribes, and how we can all hold corporations accountable for degrading the environment.
The first film, Kiss the Ground, starts with the hair-raising tenet that we have just 60 years before the world’s topsoil is gone. But the documentary gives many reasons to be hopeful (and razzle-dazzles with a celebrity-studded roster), all based on the premise that if we go all in, regenerating the dirt beneath us, we can stabilize the Earth’s climate, restore local ecosystems, and create abundant food supplies.
As the film’s minstrel (and small-scale farmer), Jason Mraz said, “Stories about climate change can make me feel disconnected from nature. Kiss the Ground brings it all back to Earth.”
Gather, the series’ second film, examines the devastation wrought by colonialism on our continent’s indigenous peoples, but as with Kiss the Ground, spends more time highlighting hope. The beautifully shot movie chronicles three tales of Native peoples who are combating food deserts and long-term genocide via food sovereignty, reclaiming their power and their identities.
In the film, chef and nutritional recovery clinic owner Nephi Craig of the White Mountain Apache Nation in eastern Arizona speaks to a young audience about how Indigenous food systems are interwoven into modern society.
“Seventy percent of all foods consumed around the world today originated by Indigenous peoples of the Americas. And that’s some of the information that we want to instill in our own people,” Craig said.
Another featured Native, Samuel Gensaw from the Yurok Nation, is co-founder of Ancestral Guard, an environmental activist group focused on keeping alive the tribe’s ties to the Klamath River as well as supporting Indigenous movements worldwide.
“The industrial revolution is over. Now, if we want to survive, if we want to carry on life on Earth, we need to be a part of the restorative revolution,” said Gensaw in the film. “And whatever that looks like to you, just make sure you get your hours in.”
Each film in the Dirty Movies series speaks to tending the soil, but each has its own lens. To foster lively community conversation, each screening features a guest who will speak to the issues of that night’s film and field a live Q&A (see sidebar below).
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to figure out in your own way how we can move food from being weaponized to being our ticket to healing. Nothing short of our world is at stake.
Dirty Movies is co-produced by Tahoe Food Hub, Moonshine Ink, and Tahoe Art Haus & Cinema. Special thanks to Homewood Ski Resort for loaning us its large, outdoor movie screen. Tickets for each night are $10 for adults and free for kids. Limited chairs available, guests are encouraged to bring folding chairs or blankets. Come when the doors open for a pop-up dinner provided by Von Pablo. Pick up artisan popcorn by local food craftsman Daniel Feldman with Après Pop, beer by Good Wolf Brewing, and wine by Truckee River Winery. For more information, visit tahoefoodhub.org.
The Dirty Movies Lineup
Weather permitting, the films will be screened
en plein air outside the Tahoe Food Hub warehouse
in the parking lot (hence why the films start later each time).
Doors open 6:30 p.m. each night.
Kiss the Ground
Activists, scientists, farmers, and politicians turn to regenerative agriculture to save the planet’s topsoil and combat climate change.
When: May 18, show starts 7:30 p.m.
Guest: Craig Witt, Full Circle Compost in Minden/Carson City
An intimate portrait of a growing movement amongst Indigenous Americans to reclaim their spiritual and cultural identities through obtaining sovereignty over their ancestral food systems, while battling against the historical trauma brought on by centuries of genocide.
When: June 1, show starts 8 p.m.
Guest: Lisa Grayshield, Washoe Tribe member and head of WZGT (Washiw Zulshish Goom Tahn-Nu)
The Seeds of Vandana Shiva
A classic David versus Goliath tale, the film shows how Vandana Shiva, an Indian scholar, became Monsanto’s worst nightmare and a rock star of the international organic food movement.
When: June 15, show starts 8:30 p.m.
Guest: James Becket, director/producer of the film, via livestream