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In Short Supply: Small Farmers and the Struggle to Deliver Healthy Food to Your Plate

by Caress Thirus

“There’s a lot of people who don’t know where their produce comes from. They think it comes from Wal-Mart in the grocery section.”

Those are the scary and true words spoken by tomato farmer Sherilyn Shephard. She and her brother, Ricky Horton, run the century-old, family-owned farm in Scott County, Virginia.
A lot of the people who frequent the supermarkets around the world, blindly searching through their shopping lists for the items they know are waiting in the next aisle, do not realize how much danger the farming industry is in . People need fresh produce, and they rely on their local food suppliers to carry it, but what they don’t know is how much work goes into making sure that the products are safe, grown in enough time, and bringing enough money to the workers who are planting them to ensure a comfortable living.

In Short Supply is a documentary about the organic tomato farm that the brother and sister team run. Shephard and Horton are seen walking throughout their land, pointing out various parts of the farm that are special to their family, and talking about where they keep certain foods and animals.

There’s some great footage of their organic tomato farm, but there are also some issues with sound. It’s hard to hear the interviewer at some points, and captions have to be inserted. There are also captions to help distinguish the farmers’ heavy Virginian accents. Some of the cinematography and sound mixing seems a little amateur, but it’s not very distracting.
Robin Robbins, Food Safety and Marketing Manager for Appalachian Harvest, and Dr. Allen Straw, a Horticultural Specialist at Virginia Tech, give their insight about the agricultural industry. Blood, sweat, and tears all go into the business, and the emotional investment these specialists and workers put into their work can be surprising. One can’t help but sympathize and wonder if the future of American farming is truly doomed.

The struggles that ail this family range from the lack of funding to the issues of flooding and labor. All issues are confronted by the zealous interviewers and the farmers’ replies are simple but strong. Horton and his sister are very frank people; bad things happen on a farm, and good things happen on a farm. There are problems in the agricultural world, but that doesn’t make them stop loving their job. When asked why he likes his job by one of the interviewers, Horton simply shrugs and says, “Because I like it.”

Most information is derived from IMDB's daily news, the Chicago dailies (Tribune and Sun Times), Entertainment Weekly,, various sources as listed, and by just paying attention.

Caress Thirus is a student at Roosevelt University and a film enthusiast.

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