The French Organic Revolution
Food Beware
Review by Ross Anthony

This uneven documentary brings to the surface an important point about the quality of our food products. It's something all of us (this non-organic, cola-drinker included) should be apprised of. Further, filmmakers present an excellent slice of productive reality by setting up and filming "an encounter, not a confrontation" between organic and non-organic farmers. I found it to be the highlight of this reel, too bad it was marginalized. That's how it needs to be done -- a negotiation, a meeting of minds --an ask, listen, then speak. Unfortunately, this is not the tone of the documentary which approaches the topic with a heavy hand.

Perhaps that's why I found the opening rather stale. It's just too PRO-organic. They hadn't convinced us yet. Unless I'm wrong and this documentary was meant to be played to the converted.

Another bright spot is the school in a rural area of France that commits itself to serving organic food to its students. This is a great way of leading by example. The mayor is quote charismatic and persuasive, "It won't get me votes, but it needs to be done." However, the doc indulges in shots of kids eating and saying, "Organic is great." Those scenes needed some heavy-handed editing.

In fact, the most emotionally moving moment occurs when a local farmer breaks down discussing the illnesses of his children that he apparently believes are due to the pesticides he used. This is powerful. This is the way to open the doc. But use sparingly. The doc follows another guilt-ridden woman with a cancer-stricken child. She says, "We were more concerned about the mosquitoes than the dangers of the pesticide." Very to the point. Very honest, very moving, anecdotal, yes, but essential. However, too much time is spent here. The anecdotal tragedies play too long in this piece making it manipulative. That said, filmmakers accent the sad stats with some beautiful roaming steady-cam shots of France's splendor, accompanied with tasteful music. One of these sequences would have made a nice opener as well. Perhaps immediately followed by a barnstormer lacing the countryside with chemicals.

Some nice quotes:
"Don’t ask the accountants first, ask your conscience first."

"If you only look out for yourself, You don’t amount to much."

As is, this is an important, albeit sleepy doc. If the original footage was re-edited this could be a great piece. Focus on the meeting of minds. That "encounter" among farmers segment needs to be the centerpiece. In fact, despite the desire for massive change now, a more practical approach would be converting farmers -- especially the big ones. Just brainstorming here, but instead of "encounters," why not rename them "seminars." Title one seminar: "Save 20% on growing X-type of plant by killing mildew with our method -- and reduce your exposure to dangerous chemicals to boot." Would this be effective? Wouldn't farmers pay to attend these?

Overall, the doc surely gave me pause. I never worried too much about food chemicals. I trust my body to take a little toxin… but for the kids, if their local stats are verifiable… we need to be worried.

-- Books by Author/Illustrator Ross Anthony --

  • Food Beware: The French Organic Revolution. Copyright © 2009.
  • Starring Perico Legasse. Directed by Jean-Paul Jaud. Composer: Gabriel Yared released at First Run Features.

Grade..........................B- (1.5/4)

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Copyright © 1998-2023 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: or call 1-800-767-7186. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.

Last Modified: Thursday, 29-Oct-2009 09:13:45 PDT