Seattle is a town full of overeducated foodies who can tell you everything you need to know—and far more than you want to know—about gluten allergies, GMOs, food deserts, corn-syrup subsidies, the obesity/poverty paradox, etc., etc. Every time Michael Pollan or Marion Nestle comes to town, their lectures are sold out. Considered in that light, this well-intentioned doc by Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush is really best suited for the children of those overeducated foodies, something that ought to be screened in middle school (the gateway years to veganism and dubstep).
Opens Fri., March 1 at Varsity. Rated PG. 84 minutes.
Though Pollan sits this one out, Nestle joins the procession of talking heads, which Place attempts to enliven with real-life vignettes featuring sympathetic poor folk from Philadelphia to rural Colorado to the Mississippi Delta. As you'd expect, there are no Whole Foods from which to purchase fruits and veggies; more to the point, they couldn't afford such healthy fare even if it were convenient. Among other non-surprises here are the thwarted efforts in Washington, D.C., to increase the purchasing power of food stamps and decrease the lobbying power of big agribusiness. And though one can't expect Frontline thoroughness from an advocacy doc, it would've been nice if Jacobson and Silverbush had interviewed somebody from K Street or the GOP—for just a bit of pepper in the do-good stew.
For a little stardust, concerned citizen Jeff Bridges adds his comments—and they're entirely intelligent. ("It's a problem people are ashamed of acknowledging," says the Dude of poverty and malnutrition.) He's run an antipoverty foundation since the '80s; like everyone else in Place, he wants to see increased federal spending to fight hunger. Where might such funding come from? "We're spending $20 billion a year in agricultural subsidies for the wrong foods," says Nestle. Well, tell that to the congressional representatives from red-voting farm states. That's where Place needs to be screened, not the U District.