Thursday, June 25, 2009

Food Inc.

Last night I went to see Food Inc. and while this movie was preaching to the convinced, I walked out with a new sense of purpose regarding my advocacy for local food. From the opening credits to the end, the movie explained how what we eat has changed more in the past 50 years than in the past 10,000 years and that the change has not been for the better. From the near total absence of government oversight over the meat we digest to the barbaric treatment of the animals that make up the Industrial Food Chain, the information presented by those interviewed would shock even the most passive viewer. It’s not really a pleasant overall experience, but how can it be with the bleak facts this movie presents – how obesity directly correlates with income levels, with the lower levels (especially minorities) showing the highest levels of obesity thanks to Farm Bills that make it cheaper to eat a Big Mac than a pound of broccoli, how we are eating chickens that are grown so fast that they can’t even walk, how hamburger filler is washed with ammonia in order to combat E.coli, how 30% of all land in America is devoted to corn - I could go on and on.
One particular galling part of the film regarded the Supreme Court’s 2001 decision to allow seed patenting which benefited huge biotechnology companies which genetically engineer seeds, the largest being the Monsanto company. Monsanto used to be a chemical company that got into the seed genetics business and engineered soy seed resistant to pesticides. Prior to the decision, farmers could save seed to grow year after year rather than having to buy new seeds every year. The majority opinion in the case was written by Clarence Thomas, former in-house attorney for, you guessed it, Monsanto. Whether you believe in the intellectual property of seeds or not, the fact that a former attorney for the Monsanto company was permitted to rule over a case where Monsanto stood to profit is ridiculous. Furthermore, if you have a farm and don’t use the Monsanto soy seed but your neighbors do, and the pollen from your neighbor blows onto your field, Monsanto can sue you for using their product. Even more ridiculous!
Anybody who has read Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan will recognize most of the material in the movie regarding government’s subsidy of commodity crops and the resulting skew on American’s eating habits resulting from these subsidies. Speaking of Pollan, he pretty much stars in the film along with Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser. Keep an eye out for Joel Salatin from Polyface Farm, a truly sustainable farm out of Virginia.
The only problem I had with the film came from the overly dramatic score. The information presented was damning enough; it didn’t need creepy music accompanying everything. It gives fodder to the naysayers who could claim ala Michael Moore that the movie makers manipulated the score in order to leave the viewer feeling things are worse than they actually are regarding the Industrial Food Chain. All of that aside, Food Inc. is a must see if you are into the local food movement, an advocate for the environment, or if you know somebody you want to expose to what’s really going on with what they eat.

Official Food, Inc. Movie Site - Hungry For Change? - Trailer and Photos


  1. Ben,
    Another great post! I only wish I'd been let out of my "cage" to go see it with you lol. Keep up the great work at spreading the message.

  2. Still waiting for your report from the Center City market! Keep them coming!!!


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