The riveting documentary Food, Inc. (opening in select cities tomorrow) presents elements of the food industry that can put profit ahead of food safety, workers' rights, animal welfare, the sustainability of the environment, and the livelihood of the family farmer.
Get a "taste" of Food Inc. here:
How much do we really know about the food we buy at our local supermarkets and serve to our families?
In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation's food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that's been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government's regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA.
Our nation's food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, insecticide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won't go bad, but we also have new strains of e coli -- the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually. We are riddled with widespread obesity, particularly among children, and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults.
Featuring Eric Schlosser and Michael Pollan along with forward thinking social entrepreneurs like Stonyfield Farm's Gary Hirshberg and Polyface Farms' Joel Salatin, Food, Inc. reveals surprising -- and often shocking truths -- about what we eat, how it's produced, who we have become as a nation and where we are going from here.*
This isn't a film about not eating meat. It is film about looking at the systems through which our food is supplied. It looks at how animals as well as workers are treated, the nutrition of the food, and the effects of factory farming methods on the environment.
Food, Inc. is a film whose time has come. With the economic meltdown and the change at the White House, people are demanding more transparency and accountability from those in charge. One thing we as a human race have in common is that we eat, and it's time we knew what's in our food and how it gets to our table.
Food, Inc. employs the use of powerful visuals to deliver its message. It takes its audience to amazing locations to see how food makes it to the grocery shelf, and it graphically demonstrates how the people and animals involved in its production are treated.
The film doesn't shy away from revealing treatment of animals at slaughterhouses, it exposes the often-corrupt politics involved in food policy, and it reveals the poor treatment of workers at some factory farms. It takes an in depth look at the strained relationships between Monsanto and the small farmers -- and issues resulting from the patenting of seeds.
This film is anything but a dry exposé on the perils of food production. The use of clever animation and appealing graphics keeps you engaged throughout the entire film.
Journalists are often criticized for not warning us of the economic meltdown and the lead up to the Iraq War. With the offering of Food, Inc., as well as the writings of experts such as Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food) and Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), they can't be accused of not warning us of the importance of taking a look at how our food is prepared and its impact on our health and the environment. If you eat food, Food, Inc. can certainly give you some food for thought.
The documentary uses eerie footage in to portray the dark side of food production. The story is not meant to be doom and gloom, however, but a call to action and the hope for a better future. One of the bright and hopeful scenes was a visit with Joel Salatin, owner/farmer of Polyface Farms, who is committed to sustainability, humane treatment of animals, and direct marketing of meats and vegetables to consumers. His customers travel from far and wide, claiming that they can't find food as fresh tasting as what they get at Polyface.
As much as there were surprising and shocking visuals and facts presented throughout the film, the scene that got the most response from the audience during the screening I attended was one that involved Wal-Mart. The idea that Wal-Mart might be part of the solution was surprising, to say the least. A discussion between Gary Hischberg, CEO of Stonyfield Farms (a leading yogurt producer with sustainable practices), and Wal-Mart executives demonstrated the point that larger chains will respond to the request for more organic products if consumers demand it.
The press notes that can be found on Food, Inc.'s website state: "It is important to note that the filmmakers attempted to interview representatives from Monsanto, Tyson, Perdue and Smithfield, but they all declined."
However, Monsanto has set up a response on their website to the allegations against it in Food, Inc. and claims that they never declined to participate.
In addition, SafeFoodInc.com, an alliance of associations that represent the livestock, meat, and poultry industries, is debating the ideas presented in the film. On their website, they present a section called "Myths & Facts" -- their response to Food, Inc.
What You Can Do
Food, Inc. leaves the audience with a call to action. Ultimately, we vote with the dollars we spend on groceries, and the film encourages us to support companies that use sustainable practices. The Food, Inc. website offers ideas for 10 Simple Things You Can Do To Change Our Food System.
*Synopsis from Food, Inc.'s website