The Global Search for Education: Avasar Director Jordyn Katz: Tackling Climate Change, Food Waste, and Poverty
This month, audiences can screen Avasar on the Planet Classroom Network. This film is curated for the Planet Classroom Network by Planet Classroom.
This short film, directed by Jordyn Katz, explores the remarkable work of the non-profit organization Krimanshi. They transform single-type and mixed food waste into highly nutritious cattle feed, which has a positive impact on the health and productivity of animals. In the process, it tackles climate change, food waste, and poverty. Katz’s film not only shows how they do it but also how one Indian cattle farmer has benefited from their work.
The Global Search for Education is pleased to welcome Director Jordyn Katz.
Jordyn, what drew you to the work of Krimanshi, and why did you believe this story was important to share?
The organization was actually chosen by Robin, our program coordinator. I believe he researched non-profit organizations that related to the interests of our crew. At the time, I was very interested in animal rights and the relationship between diet and climate change. At face value, I believe that Krimanshi offered an important story to share about how food waste might be a more pivotal issue to address than individual dietary choices. Abstaining from meat doesn’t stop its production, but abstaining from food waste does actually make an impact on an individual level.
Can you elaborate on the specific challenges and successes you encountered while documenting Krimanshi’s work in tackling climate change, food waste, and poverty?
Our work was quite challenging at first because of cultural and language barriers. We visited several farmers who were reluctant to discuss their personal lives with our team. Being interviewed for a documentary felt invasive and interrogative to them. We also realized that our translator, though highly skilled, couldn’t possibly translate the multitude of dialects across Rajasthan, which logistically existed as separate languages. However, once we found a subject, it was smooth sailing. I’ll never forget the moment we knew we had found an emotionally captivating narrative. The first time we went to meet and visit with the subject of our documentary, he told us a story about how Krimanshi cattle feed not only made his cattle healthier but also his family. Using their feed provided a profit margin that enabled him to turn their house from dung to concrete and buy his teen son a birthday cake for the first time.
Your film features a captivating narrative about the farmer’s dedication to his family and livestock. How did you connect with the farmer, and what do you remember most about conveying his story so effectively?
I remember discussing with Mevaram at the time how most people in America eat a lot of red meat. In this part of Rajasthan, slaughtering cows for meat production was illegal. So Mevaram was understandably disturbed, as cattle were not (and should not ever be) considered as food to him. They were almost more like house pets; he treated them like family. Learning that many of the farmers were reluctant to share anything vulnerable, in our interview I tried to zoom in from the macro to the micro as a tactic. Talking about his love for the cows allowed Mevaram to loosen up and talk about his love for his family. It felt like a much more natural segue. I think what I remember most is the look in Mevaram’s eyes when he told us about the birthday cake he bought for his son. We could all tell that this was something he felt immensely proud of, and this humble achievement taught me a lot about what is truly worth valuing in life.
What do you hope viewers, especially those in the farming community today, will take away from this story? How do you hope it will influence conversations about sustainable agriculture?
When I filmed this documentary back in 2019, the world from my point of view was very different. Not only because this was prior to a global pandemic, but also because it preceded a major medical gender transition for me. So if I were answering this question in 2019, I would’ve said that I hoped everyone would become vegan and go zero waste. I think that a more productive and less black & white conversation to have regarding sustainable agriculture today is about codependency as it relates to regenerative agriculture and the importance of food recycling/conservation methods. However, for an audience outside of the farming community, I think my more abstract answer would be that I hope viewers feel inspired by Mevaram’s selflessness. As I rewatch the documentary, I resonate deeply with his desire to reduce suffering in the world. I think that is something we should all strive for.
Thank you Jordyn!
C.M. Rubin with Jordyn Katz
Don’t Miss Avasar, now streaming on the Planet Classroom Network. This film is curated by Planet Classroom.