film review: best before documentary
Last night Emma, Lucia and I went to the film screening of a new short documentary film called Best Before at the Evolve Wellness Centre in South Kensington, London.
The film looks at the rising costs of food and the UK's current, unsustainable approach to food production. But it ends upbeat, showing us the alternatives out there to the current system that can lead to a healthier, more sustainable, more local food system.
In the UK we currently import 40% of our food from just about every corner of the world - this even includes foods we can grow ourselves such as carrots and herbs.
Rising costs of oil and more extreme weather conditions in many parts of the world means that food will continue to get much more expensive. And our current system uses a lot of oil; to work the machines on the farms, to transport the food across the world and to make the packaging.
A typical household shop now costs 6% more this year than last, but some items such as wheat have doubled since last year. Also meat prices have risen sharply, with beef now costing 25% more than last year, due to the rise in the cost of feed for the cows. Read this article to learn more.
And where is this extra money going? Not to the farmers that's for sure - in fact they are making less money than they did before - meanwhile, the large retailers and food businesses announce profits every quarter.
The British Retail Consortium argue that consumers are being given more choice and due to the competitive nature of supermarkets, prices will stay low as a result - however as the film shows this goes against the views of academics Tim Lang of City University, London and Jason Moore of Urea University, Sweden and many others out there agree that food prices will continue to rise sharply.
And what about the quality of the food we are being offered? The film shows we are actually getting a greater choice of cheap, processed foods, which are low in nutrition and high in sugar, while the cost of fresh fruit and vegetables rises.
So what's the answer to rising prices of food if the UK food industry is sensitive to oil prices and weather conditions throughout the world (the current drought in the US is leading to a rise in prices as we speak)?
It's to go local and the film shows the fantastic local initiatives that are now going on throughout London.
By making use of the space in inner city areas to grow things like salad leaves, tomatoes, herbs and other basic foods we can help to reduce the amount of food that we have to import from across the world, or transport across the UK. Also, we can start growing stuff in our gardens - the more we do this the better, and gradually we can transition towards a new sustainable, more local food system.
This trend isn't only true in London, but is being seen right across the UK. For example, I know in my hometown of Swansea there are more farmer's markets popping up all the time and more people are visiting them.
Food plays such a large role in our health that it is essential that we find a new sustainable food system and Best Before does a good job of raising awareness of the issues and the solutions.
There was a short Q&A with the creators Ben and Giuseppe after the screening and it was clear they are both very passionate and knowledgeable about the topics raised in the film.
Best Before offers the viewer an insight into the current situation in the UK and offers realistic, practical alternatives to the issues at hand. It's a must watch for anyone who's ever shopped in a supermarket!
Being a short film (30mins) it gets straight to the point without overloading you with too much information. On leaving the screening the three of us felt inspired to find more ways to shop locally and grow our own food.
If you can catch a screening then you should definitely go - otherwise it should be available to view on their website soon.
Watch the trailer now.