Natural Foods Merchandiser

Fresh ideas for food deserts

Director Craig King’s newest documentary film, “Here We Grow,” takes a critical look at how, according to the movie, America’s food supply chain has led to unhealthy dietary trends. Besides hosting interviews with natural foods experts like Steve Demos, founder of Broomfield, Colo.-based White Wave Foods, and Amie Hamlin, executive director of the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food, “Here We Grow” separates itself from the plethora of food horror movies by offering everyday Americans face time.

In the film, former chef–turned-activist King shows a single, working mother how to replace the processed food in her kitchen pantry with nutritious, whole foods that fit her budget, and then helps her children plant a backyard vegetable garden. Plus, Boulder, Colo.-based electronic music act GSP and poet Michael Jones express the dietary struggles of families through the song “Pork n’ Beans and Mayonnaise.”

“The goal of ‘Here We Grow’ is to educate and engage citizens about the fact that we must bring forth active wellness solutions where they are needed most—in underserved communities,” says King.

To that end, King is using proceeds from the film to support community outreach projects, including the Healthy School Lunch Program, which brings low-fat, low-cholesterol, plant-based foods into schools across the country, reimbursing them with cash subsidies and bonus foods for every healthy meal served. The program is currently implemented in nearly 100,000 schools and residential child-care institutions nationwide. In addition, King’s newest initiative, Whole Pantry, will install low-cost, natural and organic products in underprivileged areas. Construction on the first store will begin in Denver in the spring of 2010. “We will film the unfolding of the Pantry, its opening and follow the first few months to track its impact on the community,” says King.

“Here We Grow” is showing in 18 cities through the end of the year, and is available at Whole Foods Markets nationwide as well as through

Joining the cause
Regardless of location or demographic, your store can join King’s cause. King suggests natural products retailers reach out to underprivileged communities by hosting cooking demos at local recreation centers, libraries or health fairs. “A live person demonstrating how to eat clean, healthy meals on a budget is very encouraging,” he says. “For instance, a rep from Lundberg Family Farms, [a Richvale, Calif.-based rice producer], could demo how you can have rice and beans for $1.25 per serving, or a rep from Earthbound Farm, [a San Juan Bautista, Calif.-based organic produce company], could show how a healthy salad can be put together in seconds.”
–Christine Spehar

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