Minor Thoughts from me to you

The Danger of Eating Local

The problem with eating only locally grown food is that locally grown food may not always be available.

Jai Kellum stands -- stunned yet smiling -- in front of a channel of dirty water, as she describes the catastrophe that destroyed Avalanche Organic farm, which she owns with her partner, Joel Kellum.

The smile, like the voice -- sing-song, almost laughing -- is deceptive, because the words she uses in this video are not happy ones. The nine-minute production, "Flooded Midwest Organic Farms," by Madison filmmakers Gretta Wing Miller and Aarick Beher, is making the rounds on the Internet.

Miller, who made a much-admired documentary film on Wisconsin organic farms two years ago, made this short followup after the floods of August turned a season of plenty into a season of survival. The video is featured extensively in a large fundraising effort, Sow the Seeds Fund, which will be used to help organic farmers.

Miller, a Madison filmmaker since 1994, became familiar with the farmers in the Viroqua, Gays Mills and Soldier 's Grove area in southwestern Wisconsin from her earlier documentary, "Back to the Land ... Again," and because her brother, Jeff, lives in Viroqua.

"We got to know all those farms back then, and after the rains we heard everything was washed away, " she said. "People couldn 't get out of their farm yards, driveways were gone.

"So a week ago we just grabbed our camera and went out there, just showed up at Avalanche Organics. We were horrified. Here was this beautiful farm we had spent months at shooting over and over again for two summers ... "

Jai Kellum had, coincidentally, started filming activity on the farm earlier, so the video features some sad before-and-after views of the farm, which is not in Avalanche but in rural Viola along Highway 131, about 80 miles northwest of Madison.

Avalanche is a major supplier of salad greens to the Willy Street Co-op in Madison, and Miller wasn 't sure the co-op's customers were aware of the scope of the flood damage. The disaster caused ruin in one of the nation 's biggest collections of certified organic farms.

Most also run fully subscribed Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, a popular feature in the Madison area in which customers buy shares in a farmer 's harvest and get boxes of produce every week or two.

This entry was tagged. Madison