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Friday, December 23, 2016

'Just Eat It': A Food Waste Story' DVD: 'Super-Size Me' Meet 'Xmas Without China'

  • Just Eat It

Home of "thought-provoking" documentaries Icarus Films and producer of such fare Bullfrog Films follow-up their awesome (Unreal TV reviewed) 2015 collaboration "Xmas Without China," which shares the story of an effort to go a month without buying anything from the titular country, with the December 6 2016 DVD release of the equally good "Just Eat It." The challenge this time is to spend six months only eating food that otherwise is destined for the dumpster.

One warning is that this review ventures into Blogland more than most Unreal TV posts. The reason for doing so is to demonstrate that "Eat" is effective because it is true.

The plethora of accolades for "Eat" include the People's Choice Award for Best Documentary at the 2014 Calgary International Film Festival and another best doc award at the 2014 Edmonton International Film Festival. This recognition validates that the film achieves the documentary ideal of both educating and entertaining.

The following YouTube clip of the trailer for "Eat" aptly provides tasty food for thought regarding the subject of the movie and will leave you hungry for more.

Filmmakers/couple Grant Baldwin and Jenny Rustemeyer realizing the tremendous quantity of edible food that Americans waste every year prompt pledging to only eat food that otherwise would get thrown out for six months. They point out this problem extends beyond virtually all of us who dump food because it is past the expiration date, we are tired of it, it no longer is appealing, etc.

Granny points out that restaurants scrape large amounts of food off plates, farmers must compost tons of vegetables that simply fail actual and perceived aesthetic standards, and grocery stores toss goods that is at or near the expiration date.

The couple lucks out early on in that the brother of Grant must empty his refrigerator ahead of a move. This initial bounty seems to provide at least a week of groceries.

Our first diversion into Blogland centers around your not-so-humble reviewer moving in 2015. The most heartbreaking (and careless) waste regarding this relates to dumping several very heavy yard waste bags full of food from a chest freezer.

Strong efforts to eat down supplies of cereal and dry goods (and to move them to interim locations that include the trunk of the car of a friend) only mitigated not throwing away things such as the aforementioned breakfast items and cake mixes that would have cost much more than their retail value to move.

Granny further introduces us to several farmers who provide a sense of how much produce never makes it to the market for reasons that include simply only achieving "Miss Congeniality" status. One such agricultural expert shares that efforts to mitigate waste are not cost effective.

The most amusing and distressing element of the film relates to Granny easily finding literally tons of perfectly good food while dumpster diving. Scoring large amounts of fresh chicken and other treats on the heels of a food photo shoot is one of the most exciting/distressing finds. Tossing enough equally good humus to fill a dumpster that Grant accurately describes as the size of a small swimming pool is heart-breaking.

The side trip to Blogland this time relates to recently throwing out several items based on their expiration dates being at least six months ago. The worst case is tossing a large unopened box of granola bars with an expiration date of March 2015. The waste this time relates to finding the box deep in a cabinet. In this, and every case, the decision of whether to toss or taste largely hinges on the cost of the item versus the potential gastric distress from taking a chance. A recent gamble regarding Halloween candy from last year is not for the feint of heart.

The spoiler (pun intended) regarding all this is that Granny shows that most of us are unduly cautious (and subsequently waste enormous amounts of money) regarding our disdain for residents of the Island of Misfit Foods. The couple never reports an illness or other undue ill effects from their experiment. At the same time, they do not state an intent to continue dumpster diving.

Although many of us think about all of the above aspects of food waste, Granny goes on to remind us of the indirect costs of doing so. These include devoting water and other natural resources to grow mountains of veggies that get dumped.

The final stop in Blogland is to share longstanding practices that are true to the spirit of the Granny experiment. Every shopping trip includes a stop at the day-old bakery display and a hunt for what is joking referred to as "rancid meat" that is marked down due to that day being its expiration date. The latter always goes in the freezer that day. A recent score is a top-quality vacuum-sealed prime rib roast with a per-pound price below mid-quality hamburger.

All of this is particularly timely when tons of additional waste comes in the form of party leftovers and extra food from holiday meals. No one wants guests to go away hungry or be shy about taking as much as he or she wants. However, wasting good food warrants a place on the naughty list of Santa.

Anyone with questions or comment regarding "Eat" is strongly encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.