Friday, July 17, 2009

Food, Inc.

At last! The day had arrived with Food, Inc. in tow. I had been waiting several weeks for the movie to premier in town. I discovered the documentary as word spread online through some of my favorite food blogs. I'm a sucker for a documentary. I try and get my hands on as many as possible, especially when food or health is involved. I was excited to read this film exposed multiple sides of the food industry, a beginners film if you will, and hope you will take the time to see it in theatres or rent the movie when it becomes available.

Although I was familiar with the problems covered in the movie, I did learn more about the origin of our food issues and some of the parties responsible.

The film includes footage of animals being abused while on factory "farms", which is difficult to watch, but important nonetheless. Understanding what is occurring to animals during the entire food process needs to be exposed for a variety of reasons; the point of which being the abuse needs to cease immediately, and the butchering process needs to be as sanitary and chemical free as possible. A comparison was shown with a private farmer's, Joel Salatin, chicken slaughtering process. Even though the deaths still made me squirm, it was a world of difference from how most meat makes it to the supermarkets these days.

Another segment also stands out in my memory is when the documentary mentioned Oprah. The inclusion of a celebrity was the last thing I was expecting in this film. They explained how on a previous show of hers discussing E. coli poisoning being on the rise, she commented how she now fears eating hamburgers. No brands were mentioned or any derogatory comments made. However, a certain food industry group sued Oprah for defamation of their product, along with several other claims. It took Oprah six years and over one million dollars to barely win in court and have the lawsuit dropped. If she has struggled against food corporations, what chance do the rest of us have?

The film shows a perfect example. Tobacco companies once had a firm grip on our government and society; however, with a public outcry and hard work, the tobacco companies have had to answer for their abuses. The same can be done with our food.

One of my favorite moments of the film was a comment Joel made. He had me chuckling with his use of words like "critter", but in the same sentence he would make a profound statement. The one that stuck with me was his belief that if businesses are abusing animals and have no problem with it, then they also have no problem abusing their employees and customers - either by providing unsafe working conditions or unsafe foods. I found this to be an excellent point. Another big laugh was the tour by Wal-Mart executives of a private family farm that contributes foods used in Stonyfield products, which their stores now carry. As soon as they were introduced to the woman that owned the farm, she responds in surprise, 'Oh, really? Guess what? I've never been to Wal-Mart! My family and I agreed to never shop there - ever'. It was hilarious.

Documentaries like Food, Inc. confirm the switch I made to organic foods several years ago was the right one. I plan to continue discovering better, healthier food choices available.

If you enjoy this film, or are interested in others similar in genre, check out HBO's documentary "Death on a Factory Farm" and Aaron Woolf's "King Corn"

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