American Meat and director Graham Meriwether

Graham Meriwether participating in a panel discussion at the Future Tense event, Feeding the World While the Earth Cooks, held in Washington, DC on April 12th, 2012. Photo by New America Foundation via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Yesterday Grist posted Claire Thompson’s most recent interview with Graham Meriwether, director of the documentary American Meat. As Meriwether described in a previous conversation with Thompson,

Our film is very much about the struggle that farmers face. Food, Inc. did a great job of talking about some of the ethical and moral issues of meat production and animal husbandry in America. We actually introduce you to the farmers on both sides, the commodity farmers and the pasture-based farmers, and we show you the challenges they face and the joys they share. Our film is not a polemic; it’s not an expose. When you watch it you’ll empathize with everyone in the film.

Meriwether has been touring to college campuses and other venues to screen the movie and engage diverse audiences in post-film conversations. In response to Thompson’s query about how heated those conversations get, Meriwether had this to say:

[Missouri Pork Association executive director] Don Nikodim is critical in a respectful way. He doesn’t believe that grass-based systems are going to ever replace conventional systems. [People like Nikodim] have spent a lot of time and money and passion to build a certain system of agriculture, and if you have dedicated your life to that, then of course you’re gonna stand up for what you believe in.

At the University of Missouri screening, it was funny, because after every time Don Nikodim said something, all of the conventional ag students would erupt into applause. And every time Paul Willis or Mary Hendrickson would say something, everyone [else] would erupt into applause. There wasn’t any negative energy; there hasn’t been a single personal attack or anything.

Head to both interviews for the full scoop, check out the film’s website, and watch the movie trailer below. For still more, head to YouTube for the panel discussion (called Where the Beef? Your Hamburger in 2050) where the photo above was taken.

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