Post by Jacqueline Culleton
Don’t have a cow, man!
– Bart Simpson
Kentucky Steamed Chickpeas, anyone? No? Okay, what about a Tofu Bell?
Okay, we’re not quite there yet, but in the last series of The Simpsons, we are. In an episode called ‘Fatzcarraldo’, Homer goes from one fast food joint to another in search of meat, salt, sugar and fat – his holy comfort quartet – after finding out that his favourite Krusty Burger has gone vegan.
The intrinsic health and sustainability impacts of food – and let’s not forget the emotional and cultural implications, too – are moving higher and higher up our news and cultural agenda.
In Homer’s search he finally comes upon an old hotdog stand, which is where, we learn, his love of junk food as a comfort blanket began: as a child, he sat and ate soothing, coronary-inducing meals under the safeguard of the kindly stand owner whilst his unhappily-married parents took part in weekly agonising (and ultimately unsuccessful) marriage counselling sessions next door.
I won’t go into the whole storyline, but suffice to say it strikes a clever balance between emotionally on-point and suitably irreverent. The issues behind it, though, are here to stay – and we are seeing a new class of hard-hitting films that pull on the heart strings emerge, changing food habits around the globe.
In response, many of the bigger players are trying to clean up their act. Take Coca-Cola’s recent multi-million sustainability marketing campaign – a company first. But what is difficult for some of these companies is that the original raison d’etre of the company is at odds with the values of a growing army of consumers who are now quite well-educated about what good food is.
The need for food businesses to have a strong founding purpose and set of values has never been more apparent. Only then can they communicate with true authenticity and passion – ensuring their relevance in a market which is changing quickly before our eyes.
Below, we’ve picked out our five favourite films about food-related issues from the growing cacophony of voices that we thought you might enjoy too. As ever, the ethics are complex and emotive. We can’t say any of these films hold one perfect answer, but they do raise important questions that we at the Kin&Co office love to get stuck into over our mostly flexitarian and vegan lunches:
- Quirky ‘creature feature’, ‘Okja’ is a Korean, part-animated film that’s hitting even die-hard meat-eaters where it hurts with a giant ‘superpig’ that is as adorable as it is doomed. Behind a sparkly corporate veneer fronted by CEO Lucy (Tilda Swinton), the cruel machinations of the corporate food world are exposed through a clever sci-fi lens which manages to ask the uncomfortable questions anyone new to the food system would ask – it’s just most of us are so jaded, we don’t.
- Then there’s Simon Amstell’s recent sci-fi futures spoof – Carnage, by Channel 4. At the Kin&Co office, everyone we have spoken to who has watched that film has considered going vegan wholly or partly because of the content, which is hilarious and unsettling in equal measure. He seamlessly blends real footage from the past with fictional clips of a group therapy session for ex-cheese eaters who are overwhelmed with guilt for their past sins, and other hilarious storylines.
- The controversial exposé documentary ‘What the Health?’ that reveals the health risks of eating meat and dairy has turned Miley Cyrus vegan and stirred up meat-based tensions in the media again.
- French documentary Demain showcases the activists, organisers and everyday citizens globally trying to make the world a healthier, more sustainable place.
- February’s Chef’s Table season saw South Korean monk and revolutionary vegan chef Jeong Kwan cook “temple food”, including traditional kimchi (without fish products) using time to ferment the cabbage in an underground urn.
Watch out for our next blog where we’ll be showcasing five companies that are doing great things to make healthy and sustainable choices the norm.