The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

June 2, 2014

Owens student stars in food-to-plate video

By Jonathan Deal
jonathan@athensnews-courier.com

— Do you know where tomatoes come from?

The Food Bank of North Alabama wants to make sure you do and they enlisted the help of an Owens Elementary student to help make it happen.

Dustin Henry, a second-grader at Owens Elementary, narrates a 3-minute video describing how food goes from a farm to your plate.

“We were fortunate enough to receive a grant to create the video,” said Anita Daniel, community food service director at the Food Bank of North Alabama. “We knew we wanted to do something highlighting our local farmers. We collaborated on the idea of featuring youth. Just by circumstance, we were able to connect with Dustin and his family.”

The plot revolves around young boy, Henry, telling the farm-to-plate journey to a family member, with him ending with his desire to be a farmer when he grows up.

Henry tells the story of a tomato from Cullman, picked by a third-generation farmer named Jacob.

The video is peppered with economic and health facts and figures to convey the importance of supporting local farmers, knowing where your food comes from and how eating healthy is related to overall community self-reliance and sustainability.

Some of the information found in the video includes:

• 2/3 of fruits and vegetables consumed in the U.S. are from outside the country

• 340,000 children in Alabama are overweight and in danger of serious heath problems

• Eating local fruits and vegetables helps these health problems and also our local economy

• 54 percent of North Alabama farmers reported net losses

• North Alabama consumers spend $2.4 billion each year on food , $2.2 billion of that is spent on food from outside the region

“It’s the story of a local tomato and the journey it takes from farm to plate,” said Daniel. “In the video, it starts with Dustin and later you will see Jacob Sandlin from Sandlin Farm in Holly Pond that grew the tomato. We were looking for a way to tell the story of how important it is to highlight local farmers and agriculture.” 

As Jacob loads the tomatoes in his truck and drives to a local school lunch room for delivery, Dustin describes the arduous process of how we get produce from other countries.

“Farmers in Alabama can deliver straight to your cafeteria and to your restaurant,” says Dustin in the video. “Buying local is a tremendous opportunity to keep our food dollars from leaving our local economy.”

As the tomatoes journey reaches an end, Dustin’s father is seen at a North Alabama farmers market buying produce from Jacob, the Cullman County farmer.

“My dad buys vegetables there, so Jacob can buy more tomatoes,” says Dustin. “Local food is about connection; between our food and our health. Between our dollars and our local economy. And most importantly, the connection we have to our land and each other.”

While Dustin is the only one to speak in the video, also appearing are Dustin’s father, mother, younger brother, and cousin. The video can be found anytime on the Food Bank of North Alabama’s website.

Currently, the Boeing Corporation plays the video at their new corporate headquarters outside Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville.  Madison County Schools also play the video in their classrooms and the video has been featured at several conference across North Alabama.

“It was actually filmed last summer, but it wasn’t done until December,” said Daniel. “When Dustin went back to school, he was telling his classmates he was a movie star.”

The second-graders at Owens got to see Dustin’s storytelling talent for themselves when he was honored at the school’s awards day ceremony Thursday. Representatives from the food bank were on hand to thank Dustin and show the video to the school.

To view the video, visit http://www.fbofna.org or visit http://www.enewscourier.com.