Film on sustainable farming to premiere in Waynesboro
American Meat, a feature documentary about a grassroots revolution in sustainable farming starring Virginia’s own Joel Salatin and his Polyface Farms, will have its world premiere July 9 at Waynesboro’s Zeus Theater and July 10 at Staunton’s Visulite Theater.
Reported and directed by filmmaker Graham Meriwether, the movie explains how America arrived at its current industrial system and shows you the feedlots and confinement houses, not through hidden cameras but through the eyes of the farmers who live and work there. The story shifts to the burgeoning movement of farmers, chefs, and everyday folks influenced Salatin’s ideas, who might just change everything about the way meat reaches the American table.
The initial 9 p.m. Saturday night world premiere screening in Waynesboro will be followed at 11:45 a.m. Sunday at The Visulite, then two special events (at 1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.) at nearby Zynodoa Restaurant featuring food from Polyface Farms prepared by executive chef James Harris. There will be a panel discussion with Joel Salatin, his son Daniel Salatin, Meriwether and American Meat producer and editor Memo Salazar following the Visulite screening. Meriwether will be at all screenings for Q & A following. Additional screenings will be at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday at the Zeus Theater.
The premiere coincides with the July 9 Field Day at Polyface Farms, which usually draws thousands of people. The documentary examines the debate between grass-based farmers and conventional farmers and over whether small-scale sustainable farming can ever produce enough food to feed America. In a surprising move, Salatin inks a deal to provide pork for Chipotle’s Charlottesville and Harrisonburg restaurants, a step with potentially widespread implications for the meat industry. Mark Newsome, the executive chef of the Joshua Wilton House in Harrisonburg and one of the first local chef’s to use Polyface Foods, also is featured.
The New York City-based Meriwether spent four years traveling across the country interviewing both sustainable farmers and those who work for commodity farms, taking care to provide a balanced human look at the economic and environmental issues facing farmers today. The 85-minute feature is the first from Leave It Better, a non-profit, solutions based environmental organization founded by Meriwether.
Meriwether has produced content for PBS’s Expose, A&E’s The First 48 and the New York Times. He also is a cousin of Mary Froelich, the owner of Stone Soup Books & Cafe in Waynesboro.