Local farmers appeal to 'Food, Inc.' movie-goers
Meghan Reedy, right, Farmers on the Square volunteer coordinator, prepares local food business literature at the Carlisle Theatre Friday evening. Michael Bupp/The Sentinel

Sandra Miller of Newburg is waiting for the next corporate meltdown to boil over into everyday life.

First, it was Wall Street and the failure of the financial sector. Then it was the crash of the domestic auto industry. But what happens next may be more basic in its impact on everyone.

“The food system is broken,” said Miller, owner of Painted Hand Farms and a member of the board of directors of Farmers on the Square.

She was among the vendors of the seasonal downtown market to set up a table in the lobby of Carlisle Theatre Friday night. Their goal was to hand out information on local producers to people coming in to see the 7:30 p.m. showing of “Food, Inc.”

Directed by Robert Kenner, the movie exposes the problems associated with the nation’s food industry and its highly mechanized corporate structure, according to www.foodincmovie.com, its official Web site.

Miller explained how the system once consisted of small-scale independent farmers producing a diversity of crops and livestock. Now it is made of large-scale operations that crank out a single product in highly refined mass volumes.

Often, these enterprises are heavily subsidized by a federal government that can no longer afford the expense, Miller said. She added this has created a system where the poor have ready access to the least nutritious, most heavily processed cheap food.

“It’s not about the animals, the safety of workers or even health … It’s about the profits,” said Melanie Dietrich Cochran, owner of Keswick Creamery outside Newburg. “We just want to give people an idea of what is available locally.”

Susan Richards is a program manager with the Capital Resource Conservation and Development Area Council, which operates the Buy Fresh Buy Local campaign. Richards explained how the consumer outreach is meant to educate people on the availability of food from local producers. She added seeking other sources of food is the alternative to throwing up your hands and saying, “What can I do about it?”

“We are trying to educate the public that there are alternatives to the industrial food system,” Miller said. “Nutritious food is out there.”

Miller said it is her passion in life to want to see people from all socio-economic levels have access to locally produced food. She noted how recently the Farmers on the Square group received a grant to purchase a machine that is able to process food stamps.

At its peak, the seasonal market had 16 vendors selling goods on the Square, Miller said. The market continues through the end of October from 3-6 p.m. Wednesday afternoons. It will start up again in May.

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