Love at First Bite - a 26-minute family documentary - provides a glimpse into what makes farmers' markets such a treat -- they're fun, they're healthy and best of all they're full of fresh,
local produce from the people who grow the food.
Interview with Writer/Director Mike Lee
Why did you make your film?
After a lifetime of making films for other people, I wanted to create something more personal. I’m very concerned about the obesity crisis in our country and I asked myself what I could do about it. I recognize that our food system, subsidized by the USDA, is controlled by big business/big Ag and is slowly killing us. I reasoned if people became more aware of healthy food options and where to conveniently buy them, I could make a difference. If I committed my talent and energy to telling the story of Farmers’ Markets in America, I could influence eating habits and perhaps alter the trends away from processed foods toward the joy of Farmers’ Markets and health benefits of eating local, fresh farm-grown foods. While the film focuses on one special market, its overarching message is Farmers’ Markets are not only fresh – they’re fun.
In 2006, there was an underfunded and vision-less department within the Agriculture Department to support Farmers’ Markets. But the business lobby (food processing, packaging and delivery) was controlling where Congress spent its agricultural money. As a result, no one was “singing a song” for Farmers’ Markets.
On top of that, the country was beginning to become more aware of better-tasting, healthy food and where to get it.
I entered the Farmers’ Market arena at this point. Historically they were characterized as 1-2 farmer truck farms that provided melons or tomatoes for their community. Today, farmers’ markets are a billion dollar business. As centers for fresh food – grown locally – they have experienced phenomenal growth, increasing from 2500 markets in 2006 to over 8000* in 2017. What fueled this remarkable growth? That was my initial question. What was going on that created this remarkable ascent?
Using all the technological and production skills at my disposal, I saw this as a good opportunity. If there really were differences between shopping at a grocery store and shopping at a Farmers’ Markets, I wanted to know what they were so I could share that story in an engaging way to consumers. The film became a love story about Farmers’ Markets.
Farmers’ Markets: Love at First Bite
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
Even though many people know about Farmers’ Markets, they may not be aware of how important they are for farmers, communities and health. By promoting the idea of shopping once a week at a local farmers’ market, and directing the messages to consumers, there was a strong possibility of changing attitudes and behaviors about food consumption. As Kristy Levings (Chicken lady) says in the film, “food is medicine”. And if you consider her statement in all its parameters, being more aware of what we eat and where is comes from can alter the curve of history, improve health, retain farmland, enliven communities and support the life-sustaining work of farmers and ranchers.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
I love the taste of fresh vegetables/fruit and honor the life-sustaining work of farmers and ranchers and market managers. Farmers’ Markets are universal. By supporting our local Farmers’ Market, we ensure the availability of local produce for local consumption. At the same time we give farmers and ranchers an outlet for their business that not only allows them to productively use their land, but sustains them in a family business that keeps the local economy going.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
I started with a web site – OnlyatFarmersMarkets.com – in 2006 and traveled around the country highlighting exemplary markets, writing and filming about the benefits of eating local and visiting farmers on their land. While generating a growing list of followers, I realized that to really make a difference, I had to create a film that could reach thousands rather than just hundreds. I wanted to highlight uniquely successful markets in different regions of the country and considered developing a television series. But I soon realized that television can only provide a one-time exposure and without follow-up and reinforcement, the messages would only be lost in the 24-hour news cycle. Discovering the enormous capability of the internet to communicate on demand anywhere, anytime globally, I realized the best way to share the message was through the internet. I created the first of what will hopefully be a series of ½-hour documentaries on exemplary markets around the country. Farmers’ Markets: Love at First Bite is the pilot.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
The film premiered in Davis California to rave reviews. The community was gracious in awarding me the coveted “filmmaking excellence award” for best documentary on the market.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
It’s hard to disagree with the concept of eating local and supporting farmers’ markets. If anything, the feedback has been strangely lacking in discontent. Some would say there’s nothing new in promoting farmers’ markets. But I would suggest that few understand how significant and helpful a thriving market can be to a community’s cohesiveness, business growth and pride. The film provides comments from the town’s mayor, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce and an activist physician who believes so deeply in the concept of local markets, that he initiated the creation of a weekly market outside his hospital so patients, nurses and doctors who don’t have time to visit their local market can pick up enough vegetables and fruit to bring home and eat well.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
While almost 8000 people have seen the video, I’m excited about getting the message to ten times that many. We can’t solve the obesity problem by getting only 8000 people to eat healthy. We need millions to change their eating patterns and for the coalition of business & agriculture, to alter their agendas to actively support and get involved in the local food movement.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
Sales agents, distributors, film festival directors, internet journalists and podcasters with active followers.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
Broader awareness of the value of Farmers’ Markets and more young people encouraged to choose farming careers. This film should be seen by retirees, millennials with a family, physicians and health specialists, chefs, farmers’ market aficionados, foodies, farmers, ranchers, market managers and community business leaders. Looking forward to hearing your ideas and suggestions re: these targeted audiences and I’ll be pleased to discuss marketing and distribution options with you.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Why is local food so important? Aren’t Farmers’ Markets more expensive than grocery stores? Do Farmers’ Markets take business away from the rest of the community? What’s a “producer market”? What is “certified organic”? Who do you trust to provide good healthy food? In addition to food, what else happens at a Farmers’ Market?
Would you like to add anything else?
This isn’t about me or my film. It’s about becoming a healthy, thriving population of Americans who love their communities and appreciate the contribution of those who grow our food. This is dedicated to all those people who buy the seeds, plow the land, plant the seeds, cultivate the crop, harvest the crop, sell at the market and then return the next week doing the same routine. These unsung heroes will keep us whole.
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
I am developing a podcast on “transitions”. Here’s a link to my current project here..
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
Farmers’ Markets: Love at First Bite
Farmers' Markets: Love at First Bite - a 26-minute family documentary - provides a glimpse into what makes farmers' markets such a treat -- they're fun, they're healthy and best of all they're full of fresh, local produce from the people who grow the food. It highlights one of the
most successful markets in the country -- the Davis (CA) Farmers' Market. With food safety of growing concern, knowing and trusting the people who grow your food becomes critical to your health and the health of your family. Plus, shopping at farmers' markets keeps the money circulating in the local food shed. Farmers are able to get full retail for their produce and consumers are able to support regional food systems -- requirements for sustainability. But the biggest attraction for consumers and growers alike is the community aspect - the social aspect - of shopping and visiting farmers' markets. Once a week, you can say hi to your neighbors and greet your friends. Everyone is discovering the rich, enjoyable experience that is Farmers' Markets. You will too.
To see FARMERS' MARKETS: LOVE AT FIRST BITE, purchase the DVD and/or secure
broadcast rights, call 847 721-3759 or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking for distributor/sales agent.
Director: Mike Lee
Producers: Vicki Buresh & Marc Miller
Writer: Mike Lee
About the writer, director and producer:
Biography/credentials for Mike Lee – Executive Producer/Filmmaker
Mike Lee began his career in broadcast and business communication as a director/cameraman for the NBC affiliate in Phoenix. He held similar positions at the ABC and the Public Television affiliates in Philadelphia before becoming executive producer at production companies and corporations in Philadelphia and Chicago. Mike has produced over 250 corporate videos and television programs during his 40-year career as a film-maker and corporate communication professional, creating a national public awareness campaign for Vietnam-era veterans for the United States Department of Labor as well as producing training videos for Baxter, Abbott, Chrysler, Allstate, Case, Rockwell, Unisys, Ford, and Alcoa among others. He has directed crews and conducted interviews worldwide with major clients including Hewlett-Packard, Continental Airlines, UPS, Guidant, Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux, and Honeywell. More recently he lead the communication function of one of the largest private pension funds in the country following 16 years as communication consultant and executive producer with the global Human Resources consulting/outsourcing firm, Hewitt Associates. Writer, photographer, director and interviewer, Mike is known for his artist’s eye and gentle approach. His latest accomplishment is a web site that promotes Farmers’ Markets in America. www.OnlyatFarmersMarkets.com highlights exemplary markets with exclusive content including monthly video Feature Stories, an active Forum, a monthly eNewsletter and a Virtual Farmers’ Market. Mike served in the United States Army as an officer in the Signal Corps, creating training videos and providing film and production services for the Chief Public Information Officer US Army-Europe while stationed in Germany. He received a BA in Psychology from Lawrence University and an MA in Radio-TV-Film from the University of Kansas.
You can view Mike’s web videos here.
663 Carriage Hill
Glenview, Il 60025
Cell: 847 721.3759
Farmers’ Markets: Love at First Bite was made in association with: Marc Miller, Director of Photography/Associate Producer; Vicki Buresh, Associate Producer and Andy Mitran of Mitran Mitran Studios, Chicago, Illinois, who created and arranged the sound design and music composition.