OSU economist debuts in film about local food movement

September 24, 2009
Larry Lev photo by Tiffany Woods

Larry Lev, OSU agricultural economist, checks out the bell peppers sold by Gathering Together Farm at the farmers' market in Corvallis. Lev and a co-owner of the Philomath-based farm appear in the "Ingredients" documentary about the local food movement. Photo by Tiffany Woods.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – An agricultural economist at Oregon State University has hit the silver screen in a new documentary that examines and promotes the local food movement and that will show in Portland starting on Friday.

In the film "Ingredients," Larry Lev discusses the benefits and costs of buying food from local producers. He says that although some local products may cost more than food transported from large-scale commercial operations, the extra expense can be worth it. The taste can be superior, and the money shoppers spend stays in the area and contributes to the vitality of the community, he says. By shopping locally, people are also keeping agricultural land from being developed and they're establishing close relationships with farmers and fellow consumers, he adds.

"In the end, it comes down to choices. Price is one aspect that consumers take into account, but it's not the only one and often not the most important one," says Lev, who was filmed on campus.

Lev, who has worked at OSU for 25 years, specializes in agricultural marketing and alternative food systems. He also works with colleagues in the OSU Extension Service's Small Farms Program to develop and strengthen farmers' markets. He was asked to appear in the documentary because he had worked with one of the members of the film crew on various projects, including workshops to match chefs with farmers.

"Larry gave us a lot of great information to work with," said the film's producer and cinematographer, Brian Kimmel, who lives in Portland. "The most important thing he did was describe how this whole economics system works with the local food movement. A lot of the people are looking at this and saying, 'Yes, this is something we want but it's too expensive.' Larry's experience shows otherwise. It was great to have Larry to fall back on and say, 'This does make sense and here's how.'"

"Ingredients," which premiered in Germany and won a Silver Sierra Award in the documentary category at this year's Yosemite Film Festival, shows the farmers and chefs around the country who are revitalizing the connection between food and the land. It features diversified farms of the Willamette and Hudson River valleys, the urban food deserts of Harlem, and the kitchen of Alice Waters.

In addition to Lev, other Oregonians featured in the film include: Portland chefs Greg Higgins and Pascal Sauton; Anthony and Carol Boutard of Ayers Creek Farm in Gaston; John Eveland of Gathering Together Farm in Philomath; Frank Morton of Wild Garden Seed, also in Philomath; farmer Laura Masterson of 47th Avenue Farm in Portland; John Neumeister of Cattail Creek Lamb in Junction City; farmers Sheldon Marcuvitz and Carole Laity of Your Kitchen Garden in Canby; Shari Sirkin of Dancing Roots Farm in Troutdale; and former Lake Oswego Mayor Judie Hammerstad.

The film will screen at 7 p.m. on Sept. 25 and 5 p.m. on Sept. 26 and 27 at the Bagdad Theater in Portland.

To buy a DVD or find out how to organize a screening of the film in your community, go to the "Ingredients: A Documentary Film" Web site.

Author: Tiffany Woods
Source: Larry Lev