Frequently Asked Questions
How did you get interested in this subject?
I’d heard a story on NPR about a farmer in Oregon who’d discovered genetically engineered wheat spread across about a hundred acres of his farm. It was weird because there’s no commercially available GE wheat. Corn, soybeans, cotton, alfalfa… sure. But no wheat. It was tested more than a decade earlier and abandoned, for a number of reasons. Yet, there it was, happy and healthy in an Oregon field that was recently doused with Roundup. This story, this farmer, these hardy little wheat shoots, stuck with me for weeks. I finally asked my friend Molly Vetter (whom I’d met during a rather harrowing hike in The Narrows in Zion National Park that involved a lot of blood) what she knew about it. Why Molly Vetter? Because Molly comes from a Nebraska farm family and knows a lot about agriculture. She said, “You should ask my Uncle Dave. He’s pretty smart.” Uncle Dave is David Vetter. Pretty smart is an understatement.
Haven’t there already been a lot of films made about food and agriculture?
Yes. Also, we are currently up to Sharknado 5. If the market can bear FIVE feature films about tornados that rain sharks, don’t you think it can stand a few thousand documentaries on what is arguably the most important topic of our time?
What are you bringing to the table that’s different?
When you go to a dinner party, is your selection of hostess gift based upon being “different”? No! It’s based upon being awesome. You want your hostess to say to herself, “Whoa, I’m tucking this away for an occasion more special than this.” That’s what this film brings. This is a film about smart, dedicated people doing the right thing regardless of whether it makes them money. Weird, right? When’s the last time you saw that modeled in American culture? But since you’ve asked, this is a film that features farmers, not “experts” (though experts are rad and we need to hear from them as well). The men and women in this film have firsthand experience with things like herbicide drift and cancer caused by nasty chemicals in their water supply.
Why this film why now?
Modern American agriculture is a moving target in a shifting landscape. Some of the best films on the subject are now 5-10 years old. Ancient. So much has changed. Biotech moves fast fast fast. Why, it seems like just yesterday people were speculating about combining glyphosate with Dicamba and BOOM Roundup Xtend is here, wreaking havoc across the Midwest. Enlist Duo (glyphosate and 2,4-d) is on deck. Are these tools in the farmers’ toolbox or a hastening of our demise? Let’s find out! Listen, I am well aware of the many issues clogging up our Facebook feeds every day. It’s overwhelming. It is. But as one farmer said to me, “Without food, there’s really not a lot to hang human civilization on.”
Yeah, but what can I do about it?
Ahhh, see, the good news is that we still live in a Capitalistic system. So, if you pay attention to films like this and start making choices at the grocery store, you can affect change. For reals. I had a friend who lived in Germany in the ’90s. People got pissed about all the unnecessary “American style” packaging coming in. So a grassroots effort was started. After people paid for their groceries, they stood at the checkstand and ripped open their bubble wrapped dental floss and laundry soap and what have you then threw the packaging on the floor of the store before leaving. The stores complained to the manufacturers and that trend was shut right down. Think this country is too busy checking Instagram while walking down the grocery aisle to engage in full-on consumer revolt? Maybe. But maybe they just haven’t gotten the message. Maybe they need to hear it from the calm humor of David Vetter or Terra Hall. We need to save and improve our poor soil or we’re toast. Is that simple enough? If you stop buying the products that destroy soil, the ship will turn. Slowly, maybe, but it will turn. Remember, the only difference between soil and soul is u.