Food and Sustainable Agriculture

Food and Sustainable Agriculture

While it is always a pleasure to gather around a table of food, it’s important to take the time to reflect on the practices that make our food systems more sustainable. The films in this playlist highlight the initiatives of individuals and communities working to reduce the impact of food on the environment.

  • The Fight for True Farming
    2005|1 h 29 min

    In this documentary, crop and animal farmers in Quebec, the Canadian West, the US Northeast and France offer solutions to the social and environmental scourges of factory farming. Driven by the forces of globalization, rampant agribusiness is harming the environmemt and threatening the survival of farms. The proliferation of GMO crops is a further threat to biodiversity as well as to farmers' autonomy. In Europe as well as North America, a current of resistance bringing together farmers and consumers insists that it is possible - indeed imperative - to grow food differently.

  • Island Green
    2013|25 min

    This short documentary takes a look at the changing face of PEI's agricultural industry. Once famous for its spuds and red mud, this tiny island province now has higher than average cancer and respiratory illness rates. Is there a link to industrialized farming? Rather than dwelling on PEI’s worrisome monocropping practices, Island Green dares to ask: What if PEI went entirely organic?

    The stirring words of PEI-born poet Tanya Davis are coupled with beautiful imagery and poignant stories from the island’s small but growing community of organic farmers, reminding us that we can rob the land only so much before it robs us of the nourishment we need for life. Island Green is ultimately a story of hope and healthy promise.

  • Cafeteria
    2015|24 min

    This short documentary looks at how an entire community mobilized to improve the cafeteria menu at a primary school in Cocagne, New Brunswick. Rallying behind this noble cause, residents put their shoulder to the wheel, promoting products from local farmers over those of multinational corporations. Everyone gets involved to make healthy eating a common goal as well as a learning opportunity.

    This film was made as part of the Tremplin program, in collaboration with Radio-Canada.

  • Fragile Harvest
    1986|49 min

    How safe is the future of the world’s food? Narrated by David Suzuki, this documentary explores a growing crisis in world agriculture. Plant breeding has created today’s crops, which are high yielding but vulnerable to disease and insects. To keep crops healthy, breeders tap all the genetic diversity of the world’s food plants. But that rich resource is quickly being wiped out.

  • Hand.Line.Cod
    2016|13 min

    Set in the coldest waters surrounding Newfoundland’s rugged Fogo Island, this short film follows a group of “people of the fish”—traditional fishers who catch cod live by hand, one at a time, by hook and line. Filmmaker Justin Simms takes viewers deep inside the world of these brave fishermen. Travel with them from the early morning hours, spend time on the ocean, and witness the intricacies of a 500-year-old tradition that’s making a comeback.

  • David Suzuki Virtual Classroom: Our Food Systems - Are You Hungry for Change?
    2016|1 h 9 min

    The NFB, in partnership with the David Suzuki Foundation and Humber College invite Canadian students to get together—virtually—and talk about the impact that modern food systems might be having on our health, land and food security. Environmentalist and broadcaster Dr. David Suzuki is joined by J.B. MacKinnon, Utcha Sawyers, and Tanya Davis, whose compelling poem appears in the NFB film Island Green, a look at conventional and organic farming on Prince Edward Island. Co-hosted by the NFB, DSF and Humber College, this special event is geared towards high school seniors, student groups and college and university classes.

  • Organic Prophecies
    2002|43 min

    Windmill Point Farm is a 70-acre island of hope in a sea of industrial agribusinesses that poison the surrounding land. Dr. Ken Taylor is an organic farmer with a PhD in chemistry, a degree that gives him unusual authority when assessing the damage we are doing to ourselves and to the environment by buying genetically engineered and pesticide-laden food.

    Organic Prophecies chronicles one man's innovative approaches on a farm in southwestern Quebec. Not only does Ken farm without GMOs, chemical fertilizers and herbicides, he also grows thousands of heirloom nuts, vegetables and fruits, helping to preserve our vital heritage.

    We also meet some of the customers who buy his organic produce--people who depend upon it for healthy food and peace of mind. This film makes prophetic statements about the sorry state of conventional agriculture and the viable alternatives.

  • Laxwesa Wa - Strength of the River
    1995|54 min

    As distinct fishing societies of great spiritual, cultural and economic wealth, Indigenous people have always respected the resources of their rivers and oceans. But within their own lifetime, they have watched governments "manage" the fishery into a state of crisis. Now it's time for people to listen to what Indigenous people have to say. Filmmaker Barb Cranmer, a member of the 'Namgis First Nation, explores the rich fishing traditions of the Sto:lo, Heiltsuk and 'Namgis peoples of Canada's West Coast in Laxwesa Wa - Strength of the River. With over fifteen years' experience fishing Johnstone Strait with her father, Cranmer presents rarely heard stories of traditional fishing practices and documents Indigenous peoples' efforts to build a sustainable fishery for the future.

  • Changing Season: On the Masumoto Family Farm
    2014|55 min

    “How many harvests do you have in you?” is the perennial echo that reverberates across the Masumoto Family peach farm. Changing Season chronicles a transitional year-in-the-life of famed farmer, slow food advocate, and sansei, David “Mas” Masumoto, and his compelling relationship with daughter Nikiko, who returns to the family farm with the intention of stepping into her father’s work boots. Mas’ hopes and hesitations for the future are shored up with his daughter’s return, as the family must navigate the implications of Mas’ 60th birthday and triple bypass surgery. The film is interspliced with moments of Nikiko’s razor sharp meditations on her family’s internment during WWII and her role as a queer, progressive farmer in the Central Valley.

  • Turning Tides
    2007|24 min

    In this documentary short, summer trippers line up for the famous local fried clams and whole families dig for the white mollusc in the tangy air of the sandbars. But as the clams dwindle, so do these tableaux from Maritime culture. For commercial fishermen it's the end of a livelihood; for others, it's the death of a tradition. Can this really be the end of a resource that used to be as plentiful as the air we breathe? In French with English subtitles.

    This documentary was made as part of the Tremplin program, with the collaboration of Radio-Canada.

  • Theater of Life
    campus 2016 | 1 h 34 min

    Theater of Life captures the remarkable story of how renowned chef Massimo Bottura, joined by 60 of the world’s top chefs, transformed food destined for the dumpster into delicious and nutritious meals for Italy’s hungriest residents—refugees, recovering addicts, former sex workers, and other disadvantaged people. A visual feast in itself, the film puts a human face on its powerful message of social justice and the environmental impact of food waste.

  • Sovereign Soil
    campus 2019 | 2 h 11 min

    Set in the northern wilds surrounding the tiny sub-Arctic town of Dawson City, Yukon, Sovereign Soil is an ode to the beauty of this ferocious, remote land and the wisdom of those who’ve chosen to call it home.