Recognizing the twin passions for good food and activism that run through Portland, this week Space Gallery is presenting its fifth annual Food + Farm program, a four-day, multimedia examination of our relationship with food and the issues surrounding food sustainability.
In addition to workshops on various urban gardening and other agricultural ideas, Food + Farm features the foodie documentaries “Locavore” at 7:30 p.m. today and “The Harvest/La Cosecha” at the same time Friday. At 7:30 p.m. Saturday, it will present a screening of several episodes of the Web series “The Perennial Plate,” followed by a Q&A from series creator and the night’s host, Daniel Klein.
For the past few years, chef/filmmaker Klein and his girlfriend, “cameragal” Mirra Fine, have traveled the United States from their home base of Minnesota, interviewing a truly varied collection of foodies and activists. The result is a series of shorts creating a thought-provoking and genuinely entertaining patchwork of food fanatics engaged in the ongoing discussion about food and how we approach it.
“In 2010, I took stock of my skills — food, film, activism — and saw a way to combine all three,” said Klein. “I had a loose idea about examining issues surrounding food sustainability, but also broadly examining humanity, too. No real dogma, just exploration.”
As part of that multifaceted approach, Klein and Fine have interviewed urban farmers in Detroit, organic growers living off the grid in Utah, hunters attempting to control the feral pig population in Texas and the out-of-control iguana infestation on a Florida island, bee farmers, Dumpster divers, California gleaners and a guy who thinks we should all make bugs a part of our daily diet.
Of course, as our fearless guide, Klein samples everyone’s specialty, from the Dumpster diver’s quite delicious-looking french toast and bananas to, well
“The bugs were probably the hardest,” confesses Klein. “They didn’t taste bad at all; it’s just getting over the initial idea. Lizard — that’s much tastier. Frankly, the worst food was that random diner in Nebraska — those types of places where all the food is frozen.”
“The Perennial Plate” has been to Maine before — with episodes on a lobsterman’s views on fishing regulation and the poetic thoughts of a kelp harvester on the sea and his chosen vocation — and Klein is excited to return, praising the good food and Maine’s “relaxing” atmosphere.
As to what Klein has learned in all his travels, he says, “I learn stuff all the time, generally just about people. You may expect everyone interested in food sustainability to fall in line as far as politics, but that’s not necessarily so.
“That doesn’t mean you can’t bond about feeding your family and the outdoors. Meeting people who support the same things but have drastically different philosophical leanings can still form great friendships.”
Check out “The Perennial Plate” at theperennialplate.com. For more information on Food + Farm, read Avery Yale Kamila’s “Natural Foodie” column at www.pressherald.com/life/foodanddining.
Dennis Perkins is a Portland freelance writer.
“The Perennial Plate” Episode 76
“The Perennial Plate” Episode 77