Documentary to promote locally grown produce

Arthur Aumann

“Think Globally — Eat Locally” is the working title for a documentary from the Department of Communication on the importance of homegrown, natural food.

Media studies professor Laura Vazquez is directing the project with assistance from graduate communication students Guillermo Aguilar and Mike Purgatori.

By working with local organizations, like the DeKalb County Community Gardens, the documentarians hope to raise awareness of the importance of locally grown foods, Vazquez said.

Growing the economy

“In 2009, Illinois passed the Local Food, Farms and Jobs: Growing the Illinois Economy Act, which plans to increase purchase of the Illinois local farm and food products at state-funded cafeteria’s to a total of 20 percent of total purchases by 2020,” Vazquez said.

Even though DeKalb County has some of the best soil in the world it mostly goes unused, Aguilar said. Only 4 percent of the food people eat is locally grown, so the community has to grow by at least 16 percent in five years, he said.

Fresher food

The film also focuses on the economic aspect of buying locally grown foods, as well as issues like government subsidization and farmers’ profits.

“Of the $50 billion spent in Illinois for food, $48 billion leaves the state,” Vazquez said. “Most food travels 1,500 miles to get to the table and all along the way loses nutritional value.”

Purgatori said when food travels so far it loses its taste.

“I’ve heard it four or five times from different people while talking about this documentary that most people have never tried a real tomato,” Aguilar said.

Spreading the word

The documentarians look to raise awareness of the dangers of herbicides and pesticides. Chemicals are killing the soil that’s used to produce food people are not using, Aguilar said.

The DeKalb County Community Gardens, however, provides access to “fresh, local, sustainably grown organic vegetables,” according to DeKalbGardens.org.

“We want to encourage people to think about eating locally grown fruits and vegetables,” Vazquez said. “We want to promote the community aspect that happens with this.”

While documentaries like “Food, Inc.” have examined the American food industry, “Think Globally — Eat Locally” will work on a smaller, local scale.

“The challenge of this project is ‘How do we condense so much information into around 20 minutes, give or take?’” Purgatori said.

The production is expected to continue filming through the summer and possibly into next fall.

“This isn’t a film for farmers; this is a film for everyone,” Vazquez said.