I first met Sanjay Rawal during a fancy rooftop gatherings in NYC. It was one of those late-night events that you nearly talk yourself out of going to, but after you come home you realize it was time well spent.
It was an auspicious meeting. He'd just finished a documentary called Challenging Impossibility, based on the spiritual teacher, Sri Chinmoy, who at a not-so-ripe age performed some incredible feats of strength by using the power of meditation. I, on the other hand, was just finishing up my environmental art short, eXtinction, which sought to highlight the rapidity of environmental change on the timeline of one’s life.
It was Sanjay’s good advice and warm introductions that encouraged me to submit my film to a number of festivals throughout 2011 and 2012. So when the time came to look for folks to speak to on my new weekly conversation series, it was only natural for me to want to sit down with Sanjay to dive into his new undertaking: A full-length feature film aiming to connect us to the farmworkers who pick our food.
As conscious consumers, we naturally seek out farm-fresh, organic foods more often than not — but not many of us are privy to who exactly picked our fruits and vegetables. Food Chains, Sanjay’s new film launching this fall, executive produced by Eva Longoria and produced by Smriti Keshari, seeks to bring to light the farmworkers on U.S. soil who toil under slave-like conditions.
“I had a question that was burning a hole in my heart,” Sanjay told me. “You’re so desperate to find an answer [to the problem] that that’s what drove the first year [of researching for the film]. And then once you find the answer, you are so desperate to do that journey justice and tell the story that other people can have that or find the answer when they feel that same burning.”
In this small feature video, Sanjay talks about the importance of growing one’s own garden. Of course, there are plenty of upsides to this, including reaping the benefits of being active outdoors; developing an appreciation of the work involved in growing, maintaining and harvesting your crop; reaping rewards of healthy, homegrown fruits and veggies; and reducing one’s reliance on the supermarket. But Sanjay raises another valid point, which is that putting yourself in another’s shoes will help you appreciate the work involved in bringing food to your plate.
To watch the full-length video, including Sanjay’s discussion on the solutions for a more sustainable livelihood for farmworkers, refer to the conversations here or watch the others on the Podcast page.