A journey through Japan, Korea, and the United States
that turns our perceptions of food and life upside down
in an amazingly simple and poetic way.
During the process of making this film, the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released a report which in no uncertain terms, told the world that we only have 60 years of farming left if we continue our ecologically destructive ways of growing food. Add to this issues like social and economic inequality, resource depletion, and a changing climate that threatens our very existence, and the path forward seems daunting at the least.
So where do we go from here?
Final Straw: Food, Earth, Happiness not only gives us a compelling direction for solving our most critical issues with agriculture and food, but also takes aim at the root of larger issues of social and ecological injustice
From the majestic landscapes and moving original soundtrack, to the deeply insightful interviews with world leaders in the natural farming movement, Final Straw offers viewers a stunning meditative story of age-old ideas about food, ecological connectedness, and personal happiness.
The warm cast of natural farmers, chefs, and teachers together illuminate a brilliant yet maddeningly simple path to sustainability and well being for people and the environment, centered around the philosophies of the late Masanobu Fukuoka and his seminal book One Straw Revolution.
Current-day leaders in the natural farming movement are featured, including Yoshikazu Kawaguchi (Japan), Seonghyun Choi (Korea), and Larry Korn (United States), as well as a dozen others from farmers to chefs to urbanites.
The film is introduced with a delicate and moving hand drawn animated short – created by animator Heeyoung Park, who spent an immersive year with the directors in preparation to draw the first frame – and the film continues with the same deep and attentive vision throughout.
Four years in the making, the film’s Co-Directors Patrick Lydon (Silicon Valley) and Suhee Kang (Seoul, Korea) walked away from their salary jobs to further ways of thinking, working, and living that enable humanity to thrive together with this earth. The result is a film that will leave you inspired, happier, and perhaps even motivated to make a few changes in your own lifestyle.
Final Straw is a seed to grow solutions within ourselves, not only for agricultural issues, but the issues of great ecological and social imbalance that we are experiencing today.
From our first meeting in South Korea, our similar interests in sustainability issues lead us to conduct a joint interview with a noted author and natural farmer in the Korean countryside. A short few days with Mr. Seong Hyun Choi showed us the beginnings of what was possible when the connection between humans and the environment are the basis for how we grow our food.
It quickly became clear to us however, that Mr. Choi’s mindset was not really about how to grow food, it was about how to live on — and with — this earth.
We realized that this was not simply about a way of farming to sustain our environment, it was about a way of thinking and being to sustain and nurture all human relationships, ecological and social.
Shortly after departing from Mr. Choi’s small, mist-covered mountain farm, we began seeing examples everywhere, of how such a connected mindset could transform the way we live, both on and off the farm. It rocked our perception of the world so deeply that we dove in, spending the next three years researching, working, and filming on these kinds of farms all over Korea, Japan, and the United States.
To us, this is more than just a documentary film. In addition to our filming, we have reached out, to create cross-discipline community events, we’ve used art and ecology together as a bridge for understanding and connecting, and we have conducted large amounts of research, not only in libraries and academic centers, but firsthand, person-to-person, both within some of the largest cities, and smallest communities in the world.
It’s hard for some to comprehend that the Final Straw film and events have thus far been created on a shoestring budget by two people with a camera and determination… and then you realize that it took directors Patrick Lydon and Suhee Kang three years, their entire life savings, and the help of a global cast of volunteer translators, coordinators, and musicians to get it done. It’s not always been easy, but in truth, it’s been like riding on a wave; an inspiring path filled with support from others, and with so much excitement for these ideas and how they can move us towards a truly equal and sustainable society.
We’re still at the very beginning of what we can (and need to) accomplish too, we’re hopeful that you’ll join us for the journey!
Patrick is an internationally exhibited artist and writer working across multiple disciplines to ignite unconventional dialogues on humanity’s relationship with the natural world. He has lead projects involving diverse casts of people; from farmers, to city planners, to artists, rural and urban community organizations, and educational institutions. In addition, he is the founding editor of SocieCity collective, and the arts and events editor for The Nature of Cities. Patrick holds an MFA with distinction from the University of Edinburgh (Scotland) and previously studied at San Jose State University (USA) and Aichi University of the Arts (Japan).
Suhee is a photographer and social and ecological activist. She has worked as an Editor of books on ecology and sociology topics, and has served as a volunteer for many like-minded organizations including the ‘Dumulmeori’ organic farming struggle, and ‘Rogpa’ organization for Tibetan refugees. Suhee has traveled throughout the Middle-East, Europe and Asia to engage with the traditional way of living, for which she won the grand prize in the traveling photography contest by Istanbul Cultural Center. Solo and group shows of Suhee’s work have taken place in Seoul, Kwangju, and Yangpyeong. Suhee graduated from Sungkyunkwan University in 2007 with a degree in Journalism.
Patrick and Suhee are currently on tour (August 2015 – July 2016) with the Final Straw. We are not only holding screenings of the film, but initiating community-based events using art, food, and the teachings of these natural farmers.
To arrange an event or screening with us, please contact:
Kaori Tsuji (Japan)
Suhee Kang (Korea)
firstname.lastname@example.org | (+82) 010-4462-3688
Patrick Lydon (North America and elsewhere)
email@example.com | (+1) 415-347-1981
Did you know that farming without chemicals, pesticides, or prepared fertilizer can be up to 1,000-time more productive than modern industrial and GMO-based farming?
It sounds absurd, yet once you’ve physically experienced both methods of farming, it becomes clear that methods such as permaculture, biodynamic, and natural farming are the only way we can possibly sustain and feed humanity into the future. For the interested — or skeptical — there is a lot to learn and importantly, to experience. For a starting point, see the Study Materials section of this website, where we put together several resources that outline our ecological issues and solutions.
A few hundred years ago in what is now North America, a style of ‘agriculture’ which had quietly pervaded for around 4,000 years after traveling from the far reaches of East Asia, was about to come to an end. This indigenous style of food production was akin to tending wild gardens rather than intensively farming industrial crops. It faded and soon fell prey to the Western idea of intensive industries for maximized food production.
The modern day re-invention of this several-thousand-year-old concept was developed in middle of the 20th century by Masanobu Fukuoka and Mokichi Okada, two Japanese farmers who, independent of each other, came to the realization that there was something terribly wrong with the way our modern world was growing food. These farmers both realized that:
Both food producers and consumers alike must seek to work in concert with the environment, understand our land and what it needs, and put aside our contemporary industrial reflex of attempting to increase ‘yeild’ at all costs.
Natural farming can be far more productive than modern farming, but real sustainability on this level requires real investment, not in a monetary sense, but investing the time to know the natural world around you.
As opposed to our standard top-down view of agricultural production, natural farming is a horizontal system, placing humans and nature on equal footing. As practiced in Japan, Korea, and throughout the world, it represents the only truly sustainable form of agriculture know to humankind.
Natural farming sees us working with nature to produce healthy food, to keep ourselves healthy, and to keep the land healthy. In this respect, as author and teacher Larry Korn told us it is more of a ‘way of seeing nature,’ rather than a ‘method of farming’ as we typically think.
This ‘way of seeing nature’ which natural farming suggests, is also a way to help everyday people live more happily, peacefully, and sustainable, no matter what we choose to do for a living.