Interview: Director Ana Sofia Joanes on the Making of Fresh
|Dustin Meyer Photography|
|Ana Sofia Joanes, director of Fresh|
Gut Check had a chance to speak with director Ana Sofia Joanes about her documentary, which focuses on those, like farmers Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms and Russ Kremer of the Ozark Mountain Pork Cooperative, who are offering ways to change how we interact with our food system.
Joanes explains that Fresh was born of her frustration and despair when confronting the problem of global warming.
"I realized all individual actions were powerless to do anything about the crisis we were facing. The problems are so overwhelming and complex. But I also recognized the fallacy of the position when you feel you are a passive observer. So I started researching and realized that people are offering solutions. When I became aware, I was inspired."
As Joanes explains it, food was a natural subject for her focus, "a microcosm of all our problems." However, she had no desire to make another Food, Inc., the Oscar-nominated documentary that discusses the uncomfortable and, in many cases, unsafe truths behind our industrial food system.
"[Both films] have their place," says Joanes. "We need to expose the problems. The majority of Americans have no idea that what they're eating is harmful. Food Inc. has raised awareness. Fresh can provide this ray of hope."
One of Joanes' subjects is Russ Kremer, the Frankenstein, Missouri, hog farmer who founded the Ozark Mountain Pork Cooperative. In her multiple-award-winning feature article, "The Pope of Pork," former Riverfront Times staff writer Kristen Hinman detailed Kremer's remarkable transformation from an antibiotic-dependent, CAFO-using farmer into an evangelist for sustainable, humanely raised pork. The impetus for his change? After being gored by a boar, he developed a superbug infection that nearly killed him.
It was this story that Joanes found so compelling. "I think I choose stories because they need to have an emotional impact. I could give you facts and figures about the sheer number of antibiotics [that farmers use]. You'll be concerned for five minutes and that's it. [If I tell you] I ended up on an IV drip in the hospital and nearly died, then you start listening from a different place."