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ROOTED
is a documentary film in production about
FOOD JUSTICE IN AMERICA
due out in 2020

 

“Food means everything if you don’t have it. And nothing if you do.”
~Germaine Jenkins

Changing Lives in a Food Desert

Food Justice is communities exercising their right to grow, sell, and eat healthy food. Healthy food is fresh, nutritious, affordable, culturally-appropriate, and grown locally with care for the well-being of the land, workers, and animals.

Racial oppression in America in an insidious shape-shifter. In 2018, it often rears its head as: unchecked police violence, deep social neglect, intractable bias. But it also creates crippling health disparities and blockades to food access—with tragic, even deadly, results. On an acre of reclaimed city soil in a blighted South Carolina neighborhood, one unstoppable woman is fighting to bring food justice to her urban food desert.

 

 

Meet GERMAINE JENKINS

CHEF, GROCER, FARMER, MOTHER, ACTIVIST, EDUCATOR AND EVERYDAY VISIONARY – DETERMINED TO RESTORE HEATH AND DIGNITY TO THE PEOPLE OF HER COMMUNITY.

THE FILM

 

Our camera tracks Germaine’s struggle against massive obstacles: systemic, political, legal, and racial. She is currently petitioning Charleston’s local government to either extend her farm’s lease (it expires next year) or give her ownership of the plot. It’s a legal predicament that threatens to undo the entirety of her incredible work to-date and could effectively kill Fresh Future Farm.

The reality is that Germaine, like her ancestors, works a land she does not own. ROOTED’s deeper revelation is that when we talk about who controls the food chain and access to fresh produce in America, what we’re really talking about is this: whose health is prioritized, which bodies are revered — and which bodies are devalued.

We follow this activist of singular magnetism as she begins to garner attention on the national stage. Germaine’s budding celebrity is of course exactly the visibility urban food justice needs. But at what cost? Increasingly — as Germaine’s work is celebrated—she discovers she must walk a tightrope of salesmanship and caution in order to push her vision forward. What is she willing to concede? Must she maneuver politically to win gains for the movement? Is a black woman leader ever really allowed to speak truth to power?

ROOTED

-BEYOND CHARLESTON

A STORY OF STRUGGLES AND SOLUTIONS ACROSS THE US

Charleston County is an example of how stymied access to fresh food directly translates into heartbreaking health outcomes. But it is only one of many urban centers across the country where this crisis is taking lives. In answer to this national tragedy, a new food justice movement is rising—to meet a call for common care.

ROOTED will be there on the ground, beyond Charleston—in Chicago, Milwaukee, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Oakland—to document the national upsurge in homegrown food justice activism and urban farming. We will track the real-time daily struggles and triumphs of innovative farmers coast-to-coast who, like Germaine, are demanding dignity for the people of their community.

“We’re the rich soil. We are building the roots where people can come to be restored so they can take care of themselves and their families.”

~ Germaine Jenkins

 

 

Among others we venture north to Detroit to meet WILL ALLEN, founder of Growing Power, and Germaine’s hero— the son of South Carolina sharecroppers, a former professional basketball player, and MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient. Founded in 1995, Growing Power was the first-ever large scale urban farming non-profit to catapult to success—in 2009, it was selling food reaching 10,000 people.

And in Chicago we find Will’s daughter, ERIKA ALLEN, who sees food security and community development as the surest path to the eradication of racism and oppression. In 2017, she successfully rebranded the Chicago chapter of Growing Power as “Urban Growers Collective,” with a major twist: a focus on education, and innovative job training initiatives for teens and incarcerated adults.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

The future of communities. Millions of lives. Food justice is the next frontier in civil rights. Not just the right to survive, but the right to thrive.

 

A 10-year CDC study reported in 2010 that African-Americans were 30% more likely to die from heart disease than Caucasians, twice as likely to die of stroke, and 60% more likely to suffer from high blood pressure.

 

African-Americans are 80% more likely than whites to be diagnosed with diabetes.

 

While farm-to-table food movements have swelled across the US, this enlightened trend of local-sourcing and farmers markets is almost exclusively enjoyed by upper classes of white suburban America.

 

“In the pie chart of your activism, there has to be a place for food justice”

~ Germaine Jenkins

A NATIONWIDE CRISIS

Meanwhile, the decades-deep grim reality of food accessibility in the forgotten corners of our cities has left entire communities—mostly communities of color, entrenched in poverty or buckled by persistent low wages, buying their groceries at stores that don’t even sell oranges. Those leafy greens and blueberries whose anticancer benefits are touted so often these days? They’re a fantasy, prohibitively expensive for a family managing on a limited income, and impossible to find when gas station and dollar stores are the only in-reach options. Overwhelmingly, “food deserts” offer only high-calorie, chemical-rich, salt/sugar laden foods. These are toxic ingredients, and the building blocks of poor health.

The consequences are dire and irrefutable. African-Americans are a whopping 80% more likely than whites to be diagnosed with diabetes—a disparity that staggers. Across the country, “food desert” communities suffer from heart disease, diabetes, and obesity—all nutrition-correlated health problems. This is a national travesty we can no longer afford to ignore

Germaine Jenkins is planting the seeds of food justice.
Are you ready to join the revolution?

 

“If we want to make change we have to collectively reject inequity”

~ Germaine Jenkins

 

THE FILMMAKER: Bridget Besaw is the founder of Seedlight Pictures, a company dedicated to making films that inspire curiosity and reverence for the natural world. Seedlight specializes in films that challenge conventional food systems and reconnect us to health and wellness through a better relationship to the food we eat and the planet that sustains us all.