What's On Your Plate?
A witty and provocative documentary about kids and food politics.
Spanish subtitles also available on DVD
Directed by Catherine Gund
Produced by Catherine Gund and Tanya Selvaratnam
Co-Producers: Sadie Rain Hope-Gund and Safiyah Kai Riddle
Editor: Nancy C. Kennedy
Camera: Miklos Buk, George Motz, Jill Cowburn, John Foster
Sound: Jarret Livingston
Animation: Hubbub, Inc., Emily Hubley, Jeremiah Dickey
Music: Adam Crystal
Associate Producers: Nell Marantz, Heather Greene
An Aubin Pictures Production
[Note: Community screenings of WHAT'S ON YOUR PLATE? can be booked at Bullfrog Communities.]
"Exactly the film we need right now." Michael Pollan, author, In Defense of Food and The Omnivore's Dilemma
What's On Your Plate? is a witty and provocative documentary about kids and food politics. Over the course of one year, the film follows two eleven-year-old multiracial city kids as they explore their place in the food chain. Sadie and Safiyah talk to food activists, farmers, and storekeepers, as they address questions regarding the origin of the food they eat, how it's cultivated, and how many miles it travels from farm to fork.
Sadie and Safiyah visit supermarkets, fast food chains, and school lunchrooms. But they also check out innovative sustainable food system practices by going to farms, greenmarkets, and community supported agriculture (CSA) programs. They discover that these options have a number of positive effects: they are good for the environment, help struggling farmers survive, and provide affordable, locally grown food to communities, especially lower-income urban families.
The film culminates with a delicious local meal cooked by the girls and friends they have made along the way. Sadie and Safiyah formulate sophisticated and compassionate opinions about urban sustainability, and by doing so inspire hope and active engagement in others.
Note: This DVD comes with a thorough 64-page curriculum guide that is matched to the three 20-minute study modules on the DVD, which are entitled SCHOOL FOOD, HEALTH AND ACCESS, and LOCAL FOOD. Additional copies may be purchased here for $35 each.
Grade Level: 5-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2009
Copyright Date: 2009
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-901-1
"What's On Your Plate? is exactly the film we need right now."
Michael Pollan, Author, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto and The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
"This movie can have a real impact on the way we think about what we're eating."
Alice Waters, chef, author and founder of the Edible Schoolyard
"Congratulations, Sadie and Safiyah! It is great to have you take us through the food cycle. As somebody said: 'You are what you eat.' Thank you for helping us get it right. You will definitely capture the imagination of your peers and generations beyond."
Kofi Annan, Nobel Peace Prize winner and former UN Secretary General
"I've been lobbying for more than 15 years on children's health issues, and it's easy to get frustrated with the opposition on Capitol Hill, in state legislatures, or even local jurisdictions. The task is helping policy makers understand and see all sides. I believe it's time for the messengers to change. And there are no better messengers than kids themselves. One of the things I love about this film is the natural curiosity and all the questions that arise. We adults need to guide kids and provide direction, but we also need to step out of the way and provide room for young people to testify, share their stories, ask the right questions and ultimately demand change."
Kimberly Perry, Kids' Movement Director, The Clinton Foundation's Alliance for a Healthier Generation
"We are, for the first time in our history, at the unenviable moment when our unhealthy diet and lack of education surrounding our food supply have combined to foment the perfect storm that is taking us toward extinction. If we do not change what we feed our children and teach them about their food supply and the symbiotic relationship between a healthy planet, healthy food and healthy bodies - this path will become a reality. What's On Your Plate? will provide a first step in our education, which just might curb this trajectory and possibly save our children."
Chef Ann Cooper, Author, Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children
"This film speaks to children and gives them a firsthand look at what the food they eat does to their bodies. It takes an incredibly complicated topic and breaks it down into segments, showing the relationships between growers, food processors and end users and how money is the driving force steering this ship called 'the food we eat.' Health teachers, science teachers and gym teachers would be well served to show this film to their students in order to help children understand the important relationship their bodies have with whole foods and how healthy eating can positively affect their lives."
Beth Feehan, NJ Farm to School Network
"I watched What's On Your Plate? with my daughters, age 9 and 13, and they sat captivated for the entire film...The film addresses many aspects of our food system, including distance food travels, the challenges in providing healthy foods in schools, the medical consequences of a poor diet, and the economics of being a small farmer. A love of good food and celebration was evident throughout the movie, which is important when communicating about the problems with some parts of the typical American diet. There was a lot that this movie set out to cover, but the girl's journey moved along in an understandable and entertaining manner. I was impressed by the energy and drive of the two girls in the film and their fearless pursuit of answers. They provide role models for young women who want to question why things are this way, and how they got there."
Dr. Marlene Schwartz, Deputy Director, Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, Yale University
"What's On Your Plate is a progressive, unpretentious commentary on the importance of our food choices for the health of people and the planet. Viewers are guided by two smart, confident, curious, multiracial girls whose exploration of food practices and politics leaves young viewers inspired and empowered to join in the movement for change. This upbeat and informative film confronts issues of class, race, food policy, community and the role for small farmers. It's a great resource for schools, community groups and families."
Suzanne Havala Hobbs, Department of Health Policy and Management and Department of Nutrition, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Author, Living Vegetarian for Dummies
"A charming and informative video touching on many current food-related topics such as global warming, locally grown foods, organics, label reading and health issues.
The young narrators are natural and authentic. The video is a realistic snapshot of the benefits of and barriers to locally grown foods, particularly in urban areas."
Rosemary Dederichs, Director, Nutrition Services, Minneapolis Public Schools
"This film can inspire students to ask their own tough questions and pursue their own answers, in addition to encouraging them to think critically about what they eat and make healthy choices. It shows them their actions can create real change. What's On Your Plate? Is a useful tool for units on nutrition, food systems, policy, economics, or even research in a middle-school to introductory college-level course."
Danielle Langworthy, Community College of Denver, Anthropology Review Database
"An informative and engaging documentary...A winning, kid-friendly investigation into a complicated subject, this is highly recommended."
"This inspiring film explains the importance of our food choices and might just rally viewers to a healthier diet."
School Library Journal
"Not only does Catherine Gund's film What's On Your Plate? educate its audience about where our food come from, it also investigates why getting good food to all people all the time is challenging...Gund's film offers enlightenment to all kinds of audiences...This is a must-see movie. Be ready to laugh, to learn and to be warmed by the sense of community amongst people who love real food."
Gabrielle Redner, Slow Food USA
"What's on your plate? Well, what's on your ballot...So much of what we eat in America has to do with choices we make in the political realm. Unfortunately the under 18 constituency that is so affected by our food policy choices doesn't get to vote. I think this film will go far in focusing our attention on the way we're feeding the next generations."
Aaron Woolf, filmmaker of King Corn
"I think that Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma, and his subsequent In Defense of Food, is to the food movement what Silent Spring was to the environmental movement. He did an excellent job of being eloquent about the industrial food system and how it ends up on our plate, and that's how I see this movie being for youth. It's an 11-year-old's take of Omnivore's Dilemma in a film for people to really be able to take it in bite sized pieces and understand it."
Debra Eschmeyer, National Farm to School Network and the Center for Food and Justice
"I strongly believe that this documentary is building an entire community movement around it. What's On Your Plate? is the tipping point for how we address the issues of food access and diet-related health and their impacts upon children_Aubin Pictures has created an incredible asset for the world; a tool that individuals and organizations at all levels in the food chain - literally - can use in their work to create a healthier planet."
Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President
"The advisory council to the film reads like a roster of major players in the sustainable food movement...Take your kids to a screening!"
"A colorful, kid-friendly journey...This is no garden variety educational video."
"Gather all your young foodies...The girls sift through enough layers of the sustainable movement to make Michael Pollan proud: tackling everything from the origin of the food they eat, how it's cultivated and prepared, to the many miles it travels from its harvest to their plate to the tricky problem of what to do with leftovers. An organic breakfast beforehand is definitely in order."
Julie Bloom, The New York Times UrbanEye newsletter
"Observing the education of these two bright and engaging young people serves to enliven the subject matter - to make it new, perhaps even for member's of the film's star-studded advisory council."
Karen Loew, City Limits
"We need to get every child in the NYC school system to see this movie and start to think about where their food comes from. We need to get parents to see it, so they can support their children's desire for healthy eating habits. But most importantly, we need to legislators to see it, if it means the possibility of allotting more money to school food so better school food can be served."
Kelly Moltzen, Food for Thought and Action blog
SDH captions for the deaf and hard-of-hearing are provided for the main film and all extras, and Spanish subtitles are available for the main film and the three study modules. Scene selection is included.
The Film's Website
Purchase Curriculum Guide
Awards and Festivals
Berlin International Film Festival, Kulinarisches Kino
Chris Award, Columbus International Film and Video Festival
Skipping Stones Honor Award
Seattle International Film Festival
United Nations Association Film Festival, Stanford
Green Film Festival, Seoul Korea
Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival
Tales from Planet Earth Film Festival
Sonoma Environmental Film Festival
American Conservation Film Festival
Napa Sonoma Wine Country Film Festival
Slow Motion Food Film Festival
Zoom Family Film Festival
Community Food Film Festival
Urbanworld Film Festival
Cleveland International Film Festival
Glasgow Film Festival
Providence Children's Film Festival
Projecting Change Film Fest
Ever Green Sustainable Film Festival
Montana CINE International Film Festival
Brattleboro Women's Film Festival
One Earth Film Festival
Food And Nutrition
Urban and Regional Planning
An intimate look at the farmers, ranchers, and businesses that are creating a more sustainable food system in the Pacific Northwest.
King Corn (Original Version)
By growing an acre of corn in Iowa two friends uncover the devastating impact that corn is having on the environment, public health and family farms.
A leading chef investigates food safety in the age of GMOs and industrial agriculture.
Makes the case for a plant-based diet which is good for our bodies, good for the environment and mitigates climate change.
My Father's Garden
Explores sustainable agriculture and the contrast between chemical and organic farming.
Cuba: The Accidental Revolution - Pt. 1
Examines Cuba's response to the food crisis created by the collapse of the Soviet Bloc in 1989.
We Feed the World
Vividly reveals the dysfunctionality of the industrialized world food system and shows what world hunger has to do with us.
Permaculture helps people turn wastelands into food forests.
Circle of Plenty
John Jeavons demonstrates biointensive agriculture as a way to alleviate world hunger.
Highlights promising attempts in Africa, and in South and Central America, to end world hunger.
... more Reviews
"When I pulled What's On Your Plate? out of the envelope and said, 'It's about food!' my son put on his blah face...but when the rest of the family popped it in and started watching, he came in and got hooked."
Alternative Films for Kids blog
"Both of my kids (ages 8 and 10) enjoyed the film and would recommend it to friends...I'd recommend the film to any parents or teachers who'd like to get a productive conversation going with children regarding where our food comes from and how our food's orgins affect our bodies and our world."
Bettina Elias Siegel, The Lunch Tray blog
"It's packed with so many teachable moments in bite-sized bits that I suspect it will engage many kids in a conversation about eating...What's on Your Plate? does what children have always done best. It offers hope, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds...Playful, positive, personal, and political without being preachy, What's On your Plate? is worth watching. Kudos to the kids and the movie-making mom, who made a wise decision to let the children tell the story."
Sarah Henry, Lettuce Eat Kale blog
"It's a palatable way to learn about better eating."
"Sadie and Safiyah show that solutions may not be simple, but they are attainable-and mouthwatering. So be warned, in addition to walking away inspired, What's On Your Plate? may leave you craving delicious healthy food."
Caroline Wallace, In a Manhattan Minute blog
"The What's On Your Plate? project is the real deal. This documentary has the ability to help millions of school aged children internationally. Whether you're a mom, dad, grandmother or teacher, I suggest sharing What's On Your Plate to help your children learn life lessons about the food we eat."
George Guerin, NJ.com
"A terrific introduction to the topic for students and a sobering reminder that, if we aren't already what we eat, we risk becoming so."
John Fidler, Reading Eagle
"An excellent classroom tool...Watching how quickly these two young girls come to realize just what's wrong with out food system makes me wonder: What's taken adults so long?"
Katie Levans, Sweet Tater
"An excellent resource...I highly recommend it for families with children and as a tool for educators, especially educators of young people...What's on YOUR Plate? invites young viewers to boldly seek answers about their own school food and demand access to healthy produce."
Dr. Sally Kneidel, Author, Going Green: A Wise Consumer's Guide to a Shrinking Planet and Veggie Revolution: Smart Choices for a Healthy Body and A Healthy Planet
"I can't imagine two more engaging guides through this thicket of food issues than Sadie and Safiyah...[The film] addresses serious issues about food and nutrition, but always from a kid's point of view. So I'm looking forward to watching What's On Your Plate? again, this time with my own kids."
Caroline Grant, Literary Mama
"Engaging...An excellent, kid-friendly introduction to numerous complicated concepts about food...A thought-provoking look at a scientific topic that kids can relate to."
Editor's Pick, Common Sense Media