Charleston’s love affair with the farm-to-table movement caught filmmaker Thibaut Fagonde’s eye early on. But there’s love and then there’s love. His latest documentary, Overalls and Aprons, is where Thibaut sits us down, Charleston, because it’s time for that conversation. It’s time for him to look us straight in the eye, ask the tough questions, and see just how far this love is willing to go.
A world traveler originally from the South of France, Thibaut knows how food and cultural identity go hand-in-hand. He’s watched Charleston’s attitude toward fresh, locally sourced ingredients go from appreciation to demand. Farm-to-table is now a full-scale movement. But will that be enough?
“I wanted to shift the lens away from the notoriety of the James Beard recipients and look at how they are sourcing their ingredients,” Thibaut says.
The reason is obvious and sobering. If the farmers and fishermen who are bringing those ingredients to the table cannot sustain themselves, much less inspire the next generation to follow in their footsteps, we could lose it all. That’s where the tough love hits.
“Should communities invest in localized food systems?” he asks. “What are the benefits and do those benefits outweigh the economic constraints of rebuilding systems that have been lost to industrialization?”
When questions about what that might cost come around, he counters with: “We don’t know the true cost of our current food system.”
Economic, environmental, and health costs and benefits all come into play in his breakdown of the question. He’s walked Lowcountry farms with the men and women who work them, spoken with medical experts at MUSC, and savored the full, rich flavor of locally harvested food straight from the fields.
“The film is only the start,” he says. “The purpose is to raise awareness. That’s where the conversation begins.”
Watch the Overalls and Aprons trailer here.
Words by Jason A. Zwiker
Photo by Melissa Toms