Today in the United States, by the simple acts of feeding ourselves, we are unwittingly participating in the largest experiment ever conducted on human beings. Each of us unknowingly ... See full summary »
Lori Silverbush and Kristi Jacobson's documentary "A Place at the Table" is a film that every politician - indeed, every citizen - in America should be forced to sit through at least once (or as many times as it takes to get the message to effectively sink in). It makes a very persuasive case that, contrary to what most people think, hunger is a major problem in the United States, a nation that prides itself on being the wealthiest in the history of the world. Not only does the movie provide the startling statistics necessary to back that assertion up, but explains why this is the case.
Silverbush and Jacobson build their case in a meticulous, logical fashion, beginning with the common, counterintuitive fallacy that hungry people necessarily equal thin people. The movie explains how obesity and hunger often go hand in hand, thanks to the fact that, since junk food is cheaper than healthy food to purchase, the poor often fill up on empty calories rather than the nutritious ones that would actually make them healthy. This is a result of a misguided federal policy that provides subsidies for agribusinesses (as opposed to mom-and-pop farmers), who turn their grain and corn into inexpensive processed foods. Since farmers who grow fruits and vegetables work more independently of one another, they don't have the clout necessary to receive similar government support. This leads to a vicious cycle that winds up hurting poor people in both urban and rural areas where "food deserts" arise in which residents can barely find a fresh fruit or vegetable to purchase.
The movie rightly celebrates the many charities that pick up some of the slack, but it makes the case that that is simply not enough, that an entire paradigm shift may be necessary if we ever hope to solve the problem.
Ultimately, what we discover is that hunger is merely a symptom of a much greater set of problems - which are poverty, income inequality and a political system rigged to benefit the wealthy and powerful at the expense of the indigent and disconnected. Above all, the key lies in both the public and private sectors providing a living wage for their workers.
Finally, beyond all the statistics, beyond all the comments by experts and authorities on the subject, it is the voices of the parents, who can't afford to put nutritious food on the table for their children, and of the children themselves, who often go to bed hungry or malnourished, who wind up making the greatest mark on our hearts. It is their testimonials more than anything else that will hopefully move the rest of us to action.
A must-see film.
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