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The future of

Food

&

The Future of Food&

is coming to Ashland. And its purpose is to raise the public&

s awareness of what the future of food could hold in store for them.

Winner of the Audience Award for best documentary at this year&

s Ashland Independent Film Festival, &

The Future of Food&

is about what big business interests are doing to the world&

s food and seed supply.

&

Most people think they have never eaten genetically modified food even though 70 percent of the food on (traditional) supermarket shelves has been genetically engineered in some way,&

said Annie Hoy, outreach manager of the Ashland Food Co-op. &

It&

s a very enlightening film about some things that maybe consumers don&

t always think about,&

Although the film has already had two runs in Ashland, once at the film festival and a second time at a special screening organized by the co-op, the issue is such a heated one here in Southern Oregon that it is coming back for a third run and this time it is being accompanied by its writer, director and producer Deborah Koons Garcia.

&

The most exciting part is that the filmmaker herself will be here to tell what drove her to make such an important film,&

said Hoy.

Koons Garcia, widow of Grateful Dead frontman and guitar virtuoso Jerry Garcia, has already traveled all over the country and the world promoting her movie and the message it conveys. She will be in Ashland for two showings on Friday night, at 6:30 and at 8.

&

It concerns everybody who eats,&

she said from her home in Marin County, Calif., on Monday. &

The corporatization of agriculture is something that affects everybody.&

Ever since the movie was used as a political tool to help ban the production of genetically modified foods in Mendocino County, Calif., it has been a lightning rod for the local, organic food revolution that is rising as a result of agribusiness&

experiment with the world&

s food supply.

The movie &

exposes what is going on with genetically modified foods,&

Eric Navickas, who with his brother operates an organic farm north of Ashland. Navickas has been asked to be a part of a panel discussion after the meeting with Koons Garcia.

&

They are experimenting with our food supply,&

he said. &

Most people are not aware of what they are eating. But it will be difficult to go back to (the traditional grocery store) after seeing this movie. You&

d be more apt to go to the farmers market or the Co-op to get some good, local organic food.&

At issue in the movie is agri-business&

propensity to make short-term economic-based decisions rather than long-term human-health-related decisions in regards to the kind of seed it provides to the American farmers. Modern science has given the industry the ability to produce more abundant and resistant crops than ever. But no one knows for certain the health ramifications to this new variety of &

frankenstein crops,&

as they are often referred to.

Jackson County, as with all of Oregon, is mostly free of these gentically modified seed as they are typically utilized on massive factory-style farms that grow corn, soybeans and canola in the middle of the country, Hoy said. Although wheat is a popular commodity crop in Eastern Oregon, it has not yet been heavily experimented with because of its iconic image as the grain of life, she said.

Here in Ashland, as is the case all over the world, gentically engineered food is found in the food on supermarket shelves. Hoy said 70 percent of grocery store food contains at least one ingredient that has had its DNA altered.

Even the co-op can&

t boast that none of its products contain gentically modified food. Hoy said some corn chips, if they don&

t specify they are organic, could contain laboratory-engineered ingredients.

&

They are permanently changing our food in the most basic, microscopic ways,&

Hoy said. &

It&

s a change that can only take place in a laboratory. They are injecting animal genes into plants. It&

s not something nature can do itself. And none of it is for the consumer. It is for the gigantic factory farms and the manufacturers.&

But while every grocery in Ashland contains some gentically modified food, each also carries some variety of organic food. Safeway and Albertson&

s have small organic food sections and carry little if any local food. Shop-n-Kart has made organic food and locally grown produce a staple of its selection. Grocery Manager Eric Nelson said about 45 percent of their produce is organic.

Farmers&

markets and community-supported agriculture &

where the consumer can buy farm products right from the farm &

are the best ways to ensure that the food you are eating is either organic and/or GMO-free, said Wendy Siporen, director of THRIVE, a local nonprofit that promotes locally grown food.

Don Tipping, of Seven Seeds Farm in Williams, was involved in the panel discussion the last time &

The Future of Food&

was shown in Ashland. He is also part of an informal movement to combat the genetic modification of the food supply by promoting local, organically produced food as a viable option.

&

It&

s much more than just buying organic food,&

he said. &

Local food is just as important in addressing scale issues.&

Sponsored by the Ashland Independent Film Festival, &

The Future of Food&

will be at the Varsity Theater on Friday night, showing at both 6:30 and 8 p.m. Both showings will be followed by a panel discussion on the issue led by Koons Garcia.

Tom Olbrich, executive director of the festival, said it will be playing for at least one week after that.

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 x 3040 or bplain@dailytidings.com.