Nourishing Hero: Ana Sofia Joanes

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In our Nourishing Heroes series, we feature the individuals and organizations who inspire us with food that nourishes body, soul and planet. Do you know a Nourishing Hero we should feature on Nourish Network? Let us know who inspires you!

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Jamie Yuenger of FRESH: The Movie as part of their Women Nourish Us blog series. This week, the tables turned and I spoke with Ana Sofia Joanes, the woman who directed and produced the movie.

FRESH focuses on America’s food system in a way that’s a bit more approachable and positive than a film like Food, Inc. I found it to be a great introduction to the main issues and opportunities on our plate today and was thrilled to see that FRESH is offering home screening licenses; a revolutionary concept in the indie film world. (And … the FRESH folks are offering a generous special for Nourish Network members – get 20% off by entering the code ‘nourishnetwork’ — click here to host a home screening)

Ana’s worldview was first cast when she was eighteen on a trip around the world to study, first hand, the impacts of globalization. “It was an eye opening trip in that we not only learned an alternative perspective, but also got to see our own preconceptions.” The experience taught Ana to read between the lines of what we’re told and what’s really happening.

She developed that critical mindset further in law school, but tipped towards the creative when she founded Reel Youth, Inc., a video production company dedicated to underserved youth. “I’d come to find that it was hard to share ideas. I found that I could be sitting around the table with people and we could agree intellectually, but it didn’t change behavior. I got to feeling that telling stories could be central to changing people’s perspective.”

Ana eventually stepped into the role of filmmaker herself, first with a documentary on mental illness and medication, and then with FRESH. But she bristles at the thought of preaching through her films. “I want people to be open, to connect to the story emotionally where it hits them.” Which is one of the reasons FRESH has such a varied cast of characters. “We all come to the food movement for different reasons. As a filmmaker, I look for characters to tell the narrative.”

In that way, the messages we hear in the media take shape and form in the film. “Organic farming” becomes bucolic moments on Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm. “Buy locally” looks like David Ball, owner of a small supermarket who sources from local farms. “Sustainably-raised meat” is the gripping story of Russ Kremer, a former industrial hog farmer who has changed his ways and now raises hogs naturally, with no antibiotics. And “making food accessible” becomes the charismatic Will Allen of Growing Power and his mission to teach city folk how to farm (you should see people’s faces when he urges them to play with worms).

All these stories weave together a rich depiction of our food system—where it’s failing and where there’s hope. “Yes, I wanted FRESH to have facts. But even more so I wanted to reach people’s hearts.”

But Ana doesn’t consider her job done just because the movie’s complete. “I think it’s important to link my work with the end result.” So she and her team developed a way to turn inspiration into action and help people connect with their communities. They pioneered a licensing model that allows people to purchase the film for $29.95 and host a screening in their own home.

“What FRESH does is get people inspired, hopeful and ready to do something. We wanted to find a way to galvanize that energy.” The hope is that the film will spark conversation and action (join a CSA anyone?) amongst small groups, with a ripple effect into communities and, ideally, society at large. FRESH is about food, yes, but it’s also about “revitalizing local economies. These conversations are central to our society and economic well-being.”

Click here to order a copy of FRESH and host a screening in your own home. Enter ‘nourishnetwork’ as the discount code and get 20% off!

Here’s a question for you … would you like us to put together a FRESH menu you could make for your get-togethers? Leave a comment here and let us know.

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Spiced Pork Roast

This dish is supremely delish with Roasted Winter Veggies. Choosing heritage pork will mean even more flavor. I love leftovers in a sandwich slathered with mustard and dotted with Spicy-Sweet Pickled Cucumbers.

spice-roast-pork-recipe3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground fennel
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
2-1/2 pound boneless pork loin roast

Pound garlic to a paste in a mortar and pestle with a pinch of salt and grind of pepper. Add thyme and fennel and continue to pound to a paste. Mix in remaining spices and 1 tablespoon olive oil and rub all over pork. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours (or overnight).

Preheat oven to 400. Rub pork with an additional pinch of salt.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and swirl in the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sear pork on all sides, about 3-5 minutes total, and transfer pan to oven. Roast for 25-35 minutes, until a thermometer poked into the thickest part reads 150.

Remove from oven to a cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest for 15 minutes before slicing.

Serves 6