Interested in the local food movement? Then you'll definitely want to check out "Fresh," a free documentary being screened Thursday at The Gem Theatre in Kannapolis.
And what's a movie about food without, well, food?
Beginning at 6 p.m., a half-dozen vendors will be set up in front of the theater, offering free tastings before the film.
The event is being sponsored by several groups: Cabarrus Health Alliance, Healthy Cabarrus Childhood Obesity Prevention Partnership, Cabarrus County Food Policy Council, Kannapolis Parks and Recreation and Piedmont Farmer's Market.
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Victoria Manning, a program coordinator for the health alliance who also chairs the prevention partnership, says the 72-minute film is positive and uplifting.
"It's a little bit different from typical documentaries," she said. "It is focused on solutions rather than problems. That's what sets the film apart from other documentaries."
Popcorn from Barbee Farms in Concord will be served during the movie.
After the screening is a panel discussion. Members are expected to include Chad VonCannon, owner of Creekside Farms and vice chair of the Cabarrus County Food Policy Council; Aaron Newton, chair of that council; chef Felicia Pritchett, culinary instructor at Hickory Ridge High School; the Rev. Donald Anthony, pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Concord, whose church participates in the Healthy Lives, Healthy Futures program; and David Goforth, agricultural extension agent with the Cabarrus County Cooperative Extension office.
Students at Hickory Ridge's High School culinary program will be offering tastings, as will 46 restaurant in Kannapolis and Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte.
Gift baskets will be raffled throughout the evening.
The event is paid by grant funding, Manning noted. "We wanted to do something that would be a community-based event."
A local, sustainable food movement has all sorts of positive effects, she said. She read recently about statistics on poor air quality in the Charlotte area. In 2010, the American Lung Association ranked Charlotte as the 10th-smoggiest U.S. city.
"If you're transporting food locally and not nationally, it's better for the environment," she said.
"The local economy is on everybody's mind," she said. "Buying local food keeps jobs here and money here. It's really a win-win situation on lots of different levels."
The grant, she said, "is a great opportunity to bring a lot of folks together and a lot of different issues together. I have a personal passion for gardening and the local food movement."
The health alliance has requested RSVPs for the event. If you'd like to attend, please call 704-920-1214 or email abcochran @cabarrushealth.org.
"We're looking forward to it being a really good community event," Manning says.
For more information about "Fresh," visit its Web site at www.freshthemovie.com.