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Are you interested in farming? Our local economy? American agriculture? How about just eating healthy, delicious food? If you like any of these things, you’ll want to join us on July 20th.

That evening, we’re very fortunate to be hosting a unique event in partnership with the University of Minnesota SE Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, a team of documentary filmmakers, and local food producers. At 7pm at the RCTC Heinz Center, there will be a screening of American Meat, a new documentary from filmmaker Graham Meriwether. Prior to the screening, Söntés is presenting a cocktail hour-style food event featuring substantial appetizers made with locally grown foods from Fairview Farm, Alemar Cheese, Whitewater Gardens Farm, Marshall Farms, Hart Family Farms, and Pronschinske Elk.

When filmmaker Graham Meriwether first read The Omnivore’s Dilemma, he was captivated by the thought of the new farming and food movements emerging in the United States. He got in touch with Joel Salatin, a Virginia farmer prominently featured in the book, and proposed the creation of a vérité documentary film revolving around one year’s growing season on Salatin’s Polyface Farm. During his time on the farm, Meriwether learned about the sustainable food movement, and then became curious about the flip side of the movement—what has come to be called industrial or conventional farming.

Organizations like PETA have their own perspectives on conventional farming, but as a journalist, Meriwether didn’t want to just take their word for it (or their footage). Instead, he decided to get to know some conventional farmers on his own. And somewhere along the road from New York to North Carolina to Iowa, and indeed across the country, he found the story that would become American Meat.

“Every farmer is a family farmer,” says Meriwether. During the course of creating this documentary, he met city kids who gave up their urban lives to make a living off the land; he met conventional farmers doing everything they could to retain their historic family farms; he met people of all kinds just doing what they love and trying to make it work. “This film is dedicated to America’s farmers of all kinds,” Meriwether says, “and after you watch it, I would like for you to sit down and have a conversation about the nature of farming in America.”

And that’s exactly what we hope to have happen on July 20th. Before the film, take the opportunity to sample dishes crafted with food from local sources. After the film, there will be a panel discussion with Meriwether and people involved in the local food scene in Rochester, including Southern Minnesota farmers. We hope that you’ll come ready for the kind of conversation that needs to happen all over the country if we’re to change the face of food production in America.

Further details on the event, including panel speakers, can be found here. Tickets for the screening cost $10 must be purchased separately from tickets for the food event, which cost $25. Get tickets to the screening here. Tickets for the food event may be purchased here.

So, come out to learn about and support farming in the Rochester area. Hope to see you on July 20th!

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