Food Patriots: the quest for better food
Posted on July 9, 2015 by Matt Riewer   Permalink

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From WGN Radio: After Hours With Rick Kogan

Filmmaker and Columbia College Film teacher Jeff Spitz joins After Hours to discuss his documentary Food Patriots. Inspired by his son’s battle with the devastating food-borne illness campylobacter, the film explores the consumer’s need to demand locally grown, organic, fresh food as opposed to antibiotic-laden foods that can breed “superbugs” such as campylobacter.

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Spoonful of Change Can Bring Better Foods
Posted on May 27, 2015 by Matt Riewer   Permalink

Sue Ontiveros of the Chicago Sun-Times writes about her experience with Food Patriots.

Did something in the ice cream cause the death of three people?

While sorting that out, the entire supply of Blue Bell ice cream has been recalled.

Another company’s packaged macadamia nuts have been pulled from supermarket shelves because of salmonella concerns.

And chickens have been yanked from grocery stores because of concern the birds were exposed to a chemical used to bleach textiles.

All this, in just the last month.

I’m a former food editor who continues to blog about the subject. For me, food has always has been something to celebrate and enjoy. Now it’s also something that forces me to be on high alert about my choices.

I feel like a detective in grocery stores. Not just a wary private eye, but a David going against the Goliath of food producers and a government that doesn’t pay enough attention to what’s going on.

Chicagoan Jennifer Amdur Spitz knows firsthand what I’m talking about.

When her healthy college-age son (a football player) contracted food poisoning after eating contaminated chicken, he was given an antibiotic and the medical assessment that the whole thing would be over in a matter of days, five tops.

It wasn’t.

As he remained quite ill, as antibiotic after antibiotic failed to make him well, it was “scary as heck,” Amdur Spitz says now, remembering how helpless she felt, though her son did eventually improve.

“Everyone was perplexed as to why he wasn’t getting any better,” she says.

That was a wakeup call for Amdur Spitz, head of her namesake strategic communications/public relations firm, and husband Jeff Spitz, an Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker. They decided they were going to be “more mindful” of their food choices. Through their company, Groundswell Educational Films, they chronicled their journey, which included raising chickens at the family’s former Northbrook home.

The result is “Food Patriots,” a 74-minute, often quite humorous film about a very serious subject: the safety of our food. I think those funny moments make the film so accessible to so many. For a little more than a year they have been showing it just about anywhere people want to gather and watch.

One message they hope people take away is the importance of improving our food choices. In the documentary, they introduce others who have taken small steps that eventually led to big changes in the food supply for not only their families, but their communities. It’s a really inspiring film.

Amdur Spitz started her family’s changes by making sure that 10 percent of their grocery purchases were fresh, organic and local. That’s doable, right?

In “Food Patriots,” Amdur Spitz and others go to their legislators with a signed petition that seeks to take the risk of antibiotic superbugs out of school lunches.

The lawmakers were, for the most part, unmoved, and they’re “still not interested,” Amdur Spitz says.

But if we, the consumers, change, oh, those legislators are going to notice. More important, food companies will pay attention. We change up our eating habits and the impact of those purchases are noticed.

“We can drive that change by what we eat,” says Amdur Spitz.

Impossible dream? Look at Target, with almost 2,000 U.S. stores. The chain just announced it’s moving away from processed packaged fare and – because of consumer demand – will offer more organic selections. Everyday shoppers made their preferences known, impacted the company’s bottom line, and change is occurring.

Let’s think about that the next time we go to the grocery store.

To read the full article please visit The Chicago Sun-times

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Video Librarian Review: Food Patriots is “Eye opening”
Posted on March 5, 2015 by Food Patriots   Permalink

Check out the latest review of Food Patriots, from Video Librarian:


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Food Patriots is the “Food Movie for Everyone”
Posted on October 29, 2014 by Dawn Dewald   Permalink

Food Patriots was reviewed by as the “Food Movie for Everyone.”

Food Patriots is the food movie for people who aren’t in to food movies. It takes a simple, non-preachy approach to the topic at hand; which is ultimately eating better, healthier food.

The documentary centers on Jeff and Jennifer Spitz and their two sons, Sam and A.J. A few years ago, Sam got sick after eating contaminated chicken. What should have been an easily-treated case of food poisoning was actually an antibiotic resistant bacterial infection that caused the football player to lose an alarming 30 pounds in 4 weeks.

After the health scare with their son, Jennifer knew the family had to make a change. Food Patriots follows the family as they make small, meaningful changes to their eating and shopping habits, finding plenty of other Food Patriots along the way.

There’s LaManda Joy who founded a community garden project in downtown Chicago reminiscent of the Victory Gardens of World War II. Then there are the athletes at the University of Wisconsin who are learning how to grocery shop, eat well, and cook for themselves now that they are away from home; and plenty more Food Patriots in between.

Jennifer describes Food Patriots as “people who change the way they eat, buy and teach the next generation about food.” For the Spitz’, that meant starting their own backyard garden and building a chicken coop. They also changed to buying more local, organic and fresh produce.

The idea of making small changes to make a big difference permeates throughout the film. It’s the concept of making a 10 percent change, something manageable for everyone, that drives the Food Patriots. That 10 percent can mean something different for everyone. It may be buying 10 percent more local, fresh, organic produce or 10 percent more antibiotic-free meat.

Food Patriots puts a lot of emphasis on “voting with your purchases.” The Spitzes and many of the people they encounter over the course of the documentary believe that what they buy in the grocery store is their way of telling the food companies what kind of products they want. If fewer people buy processed food, over time, less of it will be available.

All the talk about small changes individuals can make is impressively empowering. The people the Spitz family encounter aren’t bigwigs, they’re everyday people who had an idea and ended up making a big difference. Making change 10 percent at a time is good enough, and more importantly, is something everyone can do. For more information, or to join the movement, visit

Read the full movie review online at

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WBEZ: Students Take a Closer Look at Their Food
Posted on June 16, 2014 by Sarah Flagg   Permalink

Amundsen High School students are changing the way they eat, buy and talk about food after watching Food Patriots. The CPS high school put on a fair that showed off what they learned along with their new community garden.

Becky Vevea, from WBEZ, came to the event and produced this story:

Watch our webisode from the fair.

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Columbia College Chicago: Truth to Power – Documentary Filmmaking as Catalyst for Change
Posted on May 16, 2014 by Food Patriots   Permalink

Cara Lee Birch from Columbia College Chicago reports on Food Patriots among other projects from Groundswell Educational Films:

There’s a spirit to the Spitz family style of documentary filmmaking that’s distinctively grounded in the Chicago tradition of storytelling. Like the eminent voices of the past now woven into the city’s fabric —Sinclair, Algren, Wright, Brooks and Terkel, among others—they take an intimate, informed and impassioned approach to social justice issues.

The Spitzes not only reveal a food revolution as the film unfolds, but in true Chicago social activist form, Jennifer partnered with to collect more than 174,000 signatures to remove the risk of superbugs from the school lunch program. It was the first time partnered with a mom/filmmaker to lobby for a policy change.

Read more here

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Food & Nutrition Magazine: Food Patriots
Posted on May 6, 2014 by Food Patriots   Permalink

Sarah Kreiger, MPH, RDN reviews Food Patriots for Food & Nutrition magazine:

Food Patriots features Chicago-area gardeners, small farmers and large farmers, some who use GMO seeds. Many voices communicate how food is grown, manufactured and provided to consumers while answering the question, “What is a food patriot?”

As RDNs, we should be aware of the agriculture, gardens and community food programs near our homes. This film may help RDNs become the resource clients turn to when curious about the origins of their food.

Read the full review here

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Sarah Krieger a Registered Dietitian’s Blog: What Motivates You to Eat Your Best?
Posted on April 22, 2014 by Food Patriots   Permalink

Sarah Krieger – a Media Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the largest organization for food and nutrition professionals – reviews Food Patriots:

The bottom line of my review of Food Patriot is this: we all have our journey of what we enjoy to eat while nourishing our bodies….are educating our children (or other family and young friends in our lives) and we want to make sure the future generations reap the benefit of our work….at least trying to make sure the future kids will have security in their food choices. Amen?…We all have our reasons to eat our best. And we all have our own journey.

See the full review here

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The Carolinian: In “Food Patriots,” 10 percent is everything
Posted on April 17, 2014 by Food Patriots   Permalink

Dylan Reddish from The Carolinian reports:

“Food Patriots” told the story of Jeff and Jennifer Spitz’s journey toward eating more local and organic foods…The main message of the film was to encourage audiences to change 10% of their intake of food to locally grown products. When consumers purchase an item in the grocery store, that purchase becomes a vote to keep that product in circulation. However, much of what Americans are eating is what the documentary calls “food-like substances”. Corn syrup and genetically modified meats and veggies make up a large percentage of what people are consuming. “Cheap food becomes expensive health care,” said Greensboro farmer Charles Sidner, after the film was screened.

Read more here

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