Unlike stars in Hollywood, “food” may not have an agent, but it has definitely reached celebrity status across America.  From documentary films to reality culinary challenges to stand-‘n-stir TV shows, the entertainment industry has created a giant stage that brings attention to how and where our food is grown, raised and processed, ultimately making its way to our tables.

Over the past decade, Americans have been more inspired to think about, care about and talk about where the food we eat comes from.  And the food curiosity appetite continues to grow.  We should applaud Hollywood and the media for playing a critical role in this inspiration.

Unfortunately, a key cast of characters has been buried back stage in Hollywood’s food story.  As Americans tune in to entertainment to feed their food curiosities, are they getting the full story straight from the farmers and ranchers who make everyday decisions about how to raise our food?

It’s true that many traditional farmers and ranchers have chosen to stay out of the limelight – and haven’t always come forth to play a leading role in Americans’ understanding of where food comes from.  Today this is changing.

And, yes, it’s also true that a handful of small, artisanal, local farms have appeared in entertainment, especially in the wake of the “locally grown” food movement.  But the majority of farmers have been left out of the food discussion in the entertainment world.  Farmers and ranchers from large farming operations who pour their hearts and souls into producing our food are sometimes disregarded by many in Hollywood who draw unfair conclusions about why farmers and ranchers do the things they do on their farms.  Why? Because their stories are still untapped.  It’s a disadvantage to Americans who are looking deeper to understand and be educated about food that is grown in America.  

Farmers and ranchers are ready to have a conversation, and their stories are waiting to be told in the entertainment world.  What better place to inspire this conversation than in Hollywood? I believe it is a wholly unexplored part of the food discussion in America that will only benefit us all. And it needs to start now.

In conjunction with the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA), George Motz hosted a Food Dialogues panel discussion with Hollywood personalities and farmers and ranchers in Los Angeles on this very topic. For more information or to watch the conversation, visit www.fooddialogues.com.

George Motz is an Emmy award-winning freelance filmmaker and director of photography. He filmed, directed and produced “Hamburger America,” his second documentary, and is the host of Travel Channel’s “Made In America” and the director of the New York City Food Film Festival.

George Motz