At first, Eating Alabama is just a simple story well told. However, as one watch this film, viewers will quickly discover that this story is about much more that meets the eye. Eating Alabama is about a couple that move back to their home state and decide to spend a year trying to eat locally grown Alabaman foods. This proves to be much more challenging than they first anticipate, but not in the ways you might expect. Throughout the movie, personal histories and the history of agriculture in the American South blend together to paint a rich portrait of how times have changed and how the food we eat today barely resembles what it did less than a hundred years ago. The presence of Monsanto seeds, at just about every turn, gives the movie a sobering dark side.
As an audience, we share in this couple’s excitement, folly and dismay as more than half of Alabama is travelled to locate, among other things, decent wheat. Along the way, interesting farmers are photographed trying to maintain a way of life that, once upon a time, was both rewarding and enjoyable. Not to mention the fact that we are treated to gorgeous shots of Southern landscapes at every turn. In essence, this film is about rediscovering American agriculture, but it is also about the dynamic presence of food in shaping our lives and our family trees. By the end of the film, one yearns for a simpler way of life even though, as the documentarians point out, this life may already be gone forever.
Baxter Smith is a sophomore at Santa Fe University of Art and Design, studying film. His interests therein include: writing, directing, and film restoration, as well as music (both of the soundtrack and popular variety).