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Eating Alabama (#110 of 1)

SXSW 2012: Eating Alabama and La Camioneta

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SXSW 2012: <em>Eating Alabama</em> and <em>La Camioneta</em>
SXSW 2012: <em>Eating Alabama</em> and <em>La Camioneta</em>

Descended from a long line of small-parcel farmers, Andrew Beck Grace embarks on the project behind Eating Alabama in an attempt to get back to the land, only to find that the lifestyle he yearns for no longer exists. Accompanied by his wife Rashmi, the couple returns to their home state and takes on a trendy challenge: eating only locally sourced foods for an entire year. This proves more difficult than they’d imagined—a problem Grace uses as the impetus for a 62-minute exploration into food provenance and farm culture.

Less angry and strident than recent issues documentaries like Food Inc., the film operates on a personal ground level, opening with the couple’s first grocery run, which devolves into a two-hour, 800-mile journey. Combing the local landscape for like-minded food providers, they discover that such suppliers are disconcertingly rare. Unlike the mythical agricultural South inhabited by people like his grandfather, who eventually left the farm to settle in the suburbs, the current food landscape is now largely under corporate control, with food giants like Monsanto exerting tight control over the industry. Facing this harsh reality, as well as the truth that the past he romanticizes may not have been as rosy as he imagines, Grace resorts to combing through the weeds, finding the small farmers who remain and examining their stories.