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The World On a Plate - the hidden stories of our food

Can a muffin put you behind bars? Are seed banks really necessary? Why are rainforest being cut down for my cookie? The answers to these questions may be more important than they seem, and can be found by a trip to the cinema.


Festival Země na talíři - AlimenTerre

The World On a Plate

Typically when we try to have a „balanced meal“ we think about the variety. The specific ingredients, additives, and content – chiefly in the interest of our own health. Yet how our diets affect the earth and the lives of other people around the world is often overlooked. It may not seem obvious, but the Czech diet is a part of this system and can have consequences the world over.

That is why many years ago came the documentary film festival, The World on a Plate - AlimenTerre. This is the fourth edition of the festival that will address the challenges of the global food system to try to uncover the story of our food. It will feature six documentary films that capture different aspects of food production in the world and the problems that occur across continents.

Food from a different perspective

The festival AlimenTerre has been held alongside the annual World Day of Foods for a number of years in various countries such as Belgium, France, Poland and even Togo and Benin.

In the Czech Republic it will be held from 6 to 9 October in Kino Svetozor. Christine Maritzova, one of the organizers of the festival explains, „In the first two years of the festival the focus was more on topics of famine, food security and small-scale farming. Since last year we have been paying more attention to responsible food consumption. We try to give the audience positive examples from which they can learn something. We don't just want to focus on the negatives.“

After each film, there is a debate with experts on the given topic and the audience can discuss the issues further with them.

Food Waste - The Muffin Man

In rich countries, the average person throws 90 to one 115 kilograms of food, while in developing countries it is only six to 11 kilograms per person. The film Muffin Man features the story of Steven De Geynst who due to his circumstances began dumpster diving and picking food from trash bins. De Geynst wants to fight food waste, but was arrested the moment he tried to „steal“ muffins from a container by a local supermarket. Will it be the end of this man‚s dumpster diving?

Preserving Diversity - Seeds of Time

Ten thousand years ago hunter-gatherers became farmers. It is then that we began to cultivate and domesticate plants. Yet only in the last hundred years we have lost over seventy percent of the genetic diversity of crops which is worsened by the continuous planting of monocultures. These issues are featured in the film Seeds of Time, which follows the story of Cary Fowler who is the spiritual leader of an international seed bank in Svalbard, Norway. It is a home for seeds of all kinds to be preserved for future food crops from around the world, all of which could be endangered due to climate change, war, natural or even nuclear disaster. Learn why this bank is so important and how it could be the key to keep a sustainable future. Because as we learn from the film, without a good agricultural base, we cannot have sustainable agriculture and without sustainable agriculture, we will have not have a sustainable future.

Community Gardens - Growing Cities

When you think of a fruitful harvest, you might not think of finding it in the city, but this film could change your mind. The film features a roadtrip by two American students who have just finished school and are figuring out alternative ways of growing in cities by examining the role of urban agriculture in America. Growing Cities introduces us to all forms of urban gardening in the USA, from gardens on the roof of New York apartments through the abandoned lots in Detroit to farmers‘ markets in New Orleans. „They are looking for interesting projects that can be used easily, even in the smallest spot on a roof or in a yard between buildings,“ says Maritzova. This phenomenon can also be seen in Prague, as the city has seen a mushrooming of flourishing community gardens, making this film a particularly hot topic locally.

Eat Less Meat - PlanEAT

„This film perhaps best illustrates how what we eat affects the world. The emerging economies of Brazil and China have a growing middle class that wants to have a similar lifestyle to people in the west. This film highlights that if these nations adopt a diet with high meat and dairy consumption, as we have in the USA or Europe, the situation will become unsustainable, even impossible,“ explains Martizova on the storyline of the documentary film. It is not only about the negative impacts on agriculture, but also possible solutions to the situation.

Chips are destroying rainforests - The oil that leaves a spot

The film begins with the comfortable image of the dining room of a French family, sharing an average meal together. Yet the comfort ends as the scenes slowly move to show factories were biscuits are produced and plantations in Indonesia. Palm oil is grown on large plantations which can result in the clearing of native rainforest, therefore causing huge damage to nature and local communities. But because it is one of the cheapest vegetable oils, producers are increasingly using it. Palm oil is used for frying potato chips, the manufacturing of margarine, instant soups, and even soap. One of the most common but at the same time well hidden food ingredients of our time, this film takes a real look at palm oil.

Empty Stomachs are Filling up Our Cars - Countries for Sale?

In the Czech Republic, biofuel has wide support, although few people realize that the impact of the European biofuel policy lies on the African continent. „Renewables are well-intentioned tools that may have a negative impact on developing countries. For instance, the example of Africa where instead of crops to eat, they are extensively growing crops for biofuels,“ explains Maritzova. The last film of the festival shows Mozambican farmers who defend their rights against companies who are preparing their homes and livelihoods. With cameras following the action of a concerned Greek MEP, they explore how local farmers and the architects of these laws for biofuels are threatening food security and is leading to the further conquest of the African soil.

This is a translation of an article written by Kateřina Čepelíková on

glopolis 2014