Evolution of Organic
Impact | VIFF Impact
"Organic" has become such a garden variety term that few us give much thought to how this movement might’ve originated. Consequently, Mark Kitchell’s insightful documentary makes for engrossing—and for some viewers , wonderfully nostalgic—viewing as it retraces the first steps of the motley, rebellious pioneers who thumbed their noses at chemical farming and set in motion a wave of change. Much more than just backstory, however, Evolution is essential viewing thanks to the glimpses it offers of the sustainable alternatives waiting on the horizon. Frances McDormand brings a light touch as narrator, taking us chapter by chapter from sun-drenched 1960s counter-culture to a future—if we guide or support it—that is sustainable and delicious. Yes, this film is American in focus, but how often do we get to meet the industry leaders who stock our shelves? If it’s galling that so much of our produce comes from California, can we do something about that?
Act 1: Origins: The 1960s return to the land. Alan Chadwick, eccentric master gardener, appears at UC Santa Cruz as students start a garden; he teaches a generation Rudolf Steiner’s biodynamic philosophy. By the end of the 1970s the first wave consists of 60 to 80 organic farms from Sonoma to Santa Cruz. Act 2: Building Organic: Soil and the microbial life in it; making compost; growing your own fertilizer; and natural pest control using beneficial insects. Act 3: Mainstreaming Organic: The supermarket barrier is broken. USDA Organic rules are implemented. The organic community wins the battle to ban GMOs, sewage sludge and irradiation. Act 4: Organic Futures: The most exciting part! Wonderful new innovations! The next generation are broadening organic into no-till and urban farms; carbon farming as a climate solution; and soil microbiology as "the new frontier to visions of regenerative agriculture."