Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Food, Inc - Movie Review

I guess I should say Documentary Review, but for my our purposes here, same thing.  Food, Inc is a documentary made by award winning filmmaker, Robert Kenner.  The film won Gotham Independent Film Award for Best Documentary and after watching, I know why.  I'm going to give a very quick overview, but please, go here to learn more - Takepart.com/foodinc 

The documentary wants to answer the basic question - where does our food come from?  It is a pretty disturbing look at the corporations that control the food industry and what is placed on the shelves of grocery stores and on menus of fast food restaurants.  Taking notes from the fast food industry, the production of food is now done at the lowest cost possible, as fast as possible by the cheapest labor available.  .   

Quite a few things disturbed me during the 90 minutes we spent watching and learning.  (This was Stephen's second time watching the documentary, I'm not sure how he could stomach another viewing, one is enough for me.)  First, and the biggest point in the film, there are only 4-5 large corporations that control 80-90% of all meat produced in the country.  These corporations not only control what is put on our mouths but they also have a vice grip on government policy in Washington.  They are so big, their former legal teams and presidents are now in charge of food laws and the organizations who are supposed to protect the American public from contaminated foods.  So where one company may not want the public knowing that their meat comes from cloned animals, their former employee could now be the one making laws that prohibits labels from showing what foods come from cloned animals?  Doesn't the public have the right to know?  

Secondly, not one chicken farmer allowed camera crews or filmmakers into their facilities to see the conditions that the chickens live in during their short lives.  Not one.  They are that bad.  They know that if people saw where their chicken comes from they'd stop eating it.  By the way, Tyson is the largest chicken producer in the country.  Just keep that in mind when you buy chicken at the store, Tyson won't let anyone see where their chicken come from.  

The fields where the cows live before they are slaughtered made me close my eyes, as did the facilities where they are processed.  Now I understand that we need meat, there are cows, pigs, chickens, etc that are raised for their meat, I get that.  I'm okay with that.  But the way that these animals were forced to live and then the way they were killed, I can't stomach it.  How do people look at these thousands of animals and treat them the way they are treated?  How do they put up with the screams of the animals as they are loaded into the slaughter houses where they know they are going to die?  Stephen had to mute the TV and I had to close my eyes during some scenes because I couldn't take it.  It makes me sick that humans are capable of these things.  

Animals are no longer processed at a local farm, even a large farm.  They are processed in plants that look more like a brewery than a food processing plant.  No wonder there are problems with contaminated food, there is little regulation and far too much room for error.  Think about it, almost every chicken product in America comes from one of a handful of companies.  These companies control regulation.  

The corn production in this country is out of control and it's now used in countless products, even diapers.  Corn is also fed to cows to make them fat.  Cows aren't supposed to eat corn, they can't process it like they can grass.  So they build up bacteria in their bodies, bacteria that needs to be cleaned from the meat before humans can consume it - that's where we can run into contaminated meats.  

Food, Inc is one of those films that you have to watch.  You're not going to enjoy it, it's going to scare you s*itless, but that's the point.  They want you to think about what you're putting into your body and how it effects the entire country.  

Did you know it's cheaper to get a double cheese burger at a drive-thru than it is to get a pound of veggies?  No wonder families who are struggling financially aren't eating healthy.  

Stephen and I already make an effort to eat local, organic food as much as possible.  We're going to do so even more from now on.  I know it's going to cost more, but it's all I can do to hope to make a change in the world, I have to "vote" with my money at the grocery store/farmers market.  

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