Food Forward: Television That Won’t Rot Your Brain

Most reality TV has me reaching for the "off” button, but this is one show I can get behind.

by Dani Yokhna

I am not a TV watcher. I sold my television in 2011 and haven’t looked back. Dorky documentaries, on the other hand, I am a fan of. On a quiet winter night, you’ll often find me huddled over my tiny netbook computer screen, taking in a food, ag or travel film.

For you TV and Internet-television watchers, PBS has a treat that even I can get behind. Food Forward is a new PBS series with the tag line “Let’s Eat. Right. Now.” The 11 episodes in the first season take viewers through sustainable- and alternative-agriculture practices and celebrates the people they’re calling “food rebels:” people striving to create a more just, sustainable and delicious way to eat and farm. I like to think of those being profiled less as rebels and more as folks doing what’s right for the food system. Each episode has a different theme, looking at fisheries, dairies, school lunches, our soil, our water crisis and other current issues that deserve mainstream attention.

I don’t need more shiny distractions online like the one this program provides, but there are several things I really appreciate about Food Forward.

1.The Message Is Relatable
I love for non-farm people to learn about where their food comes from and why our cheap-food mentality needs to change. Providing the chance for someone to get that kind of education in an unpreachy, somewhat fun but still educational way is excellent.

2. The People Are Real
I love that Food Forward has interviews with Michael Pollan and Dan Barber in various episodes, but the stories of more grassroots efforts and less well-known individuals are being told here.

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3. I Can Get Involved
I also love that PBS, in all of its educational glory, provides resources to go along with each episode. So after I watched Dock to Dish community-supported-fishery CEO Sean Barrett talk about how his business operates in the first episode, I found his website and learned more about how he started this business and what it means to him. There are recipes, links to organizations working toward these causes, and related news. See? Shiny distractions. I’m hooked.

Food Forward: Television That Won't Rot Your Brain ( 

4. The Show Inspires
If you’re willing to turn off your TV (or computer) after watching a few episodes and get out into the world to work toward better food-system practices, Food Forward can serve as a point of inspiration. Small-scale farmers like us and others working to make changes in the food system need a bit of a reminder of projects going on around us that are improving our food system, bit by bit.

Just look at the work John Wick is doing to sequester carbon in the soil. He’s working on a large scale, but you bet you can put carbon sequestration to work on your farm. And the Recipe for Success program, bringing cooking education into schools, might serve as an inspiration to boost your child’s food literacy, at home or in school.

Tune In
Food Forward airs weekly on PBS stations across the country. Find your station’s schedule. You can also watch it online (like I do).

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