Though Portlandia is not a show amongst the most popular television series, it carries its niche market with its witty, quirky, and seemingly hipster/liberal character. The show is known for its light mocking of residents of the city of Portland, and other more progressive cities which I believe Burlington, VT to follow similar characteristics (possibly why I am such a fan). An article in The New Yorker describes it as "a television comedy in which precious concerns spin into giddy lunacy".
The clip above is a wonderful example poking fun at the most extreme locavores supporting the local food movement. Portlandia creates this scenario where the restaurant guests go through somewhat excessive information gathering to find out where their food is coming from. They ask if the chicken has friends, and reach the point where they actually go to visit the farm as the waitress holds their table. While this scenario is not the most realistic example of what types of questions a locavore goes through before ordering, I do believe the dialogue is a quite accurate representation of food movement issues. These questions bring light to the types of things we often do not think about when ordering or purchasing food. Some issues it targets: How the farmer treats their animals, the distance the food is coming from, and the relationship between the farm and the restaurant. The scene also models what type of role an individual can hold in creating change in the food system. After the waitress leaves the table to get the papers about the chicken, the characters reaffirm that they are doing the right thing by asking these questions. In many situations asking these questions can feel awkward and obnoxious, but that uncomfortable feeling is shared in this scene for others to relate to. This educational entertainment [Edutainment] models the behavior of asking thoughtful questions about your food, while also being highly entertaining.
It is important to recognize that the audience of this show is compiled of like-minded individuals that relate to the scenarios being mocked. It is hard to say how much this show is a source of information for people not already part of the local food movement, but for people who do support the movement it seems extremely relatable. In fact these are things I want to know about my food, but often don't have the guts to ask. By watching this scene I feel more confident in my individual role as a supporter of food movements.
Entertainment does not often model food system issues, which is what makes Portlandia such a unique show. This "Food Dialogues" video made by the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance argues that food system issues are becoming a larger part of pop culture, though I have yet to see these practices as I watch my daily television. Perhaps as popularity of the movement grows, so will its presence in media. My hope is that the mocking can again be reflected into everyday practices beginning with how we think about food.