Wednesday, March 24, 2010

DVD Review: Food, Inc.

Food Inc.
Directed by Robert Kenner

The film opens, "What we eat has changed more in the last 50 years than in the last 10,000 years before that."

In 1900, 41% of the American workforce worked in agriculture. Today, less than 2% does. Obviously, there are many advantages to increased productivity but there are also a number of drawbacks. The dawn of the fast food age pushed American agriculture to faster production and greater uniformity of product and loss of crop diversity. This led to the feedlot style production of all animals used as food, with the primary feed becoming corn, not the natural diet of any of these animals. Without periodic grazing, cattle on a corn-fed diet produce dangerous levels of E. Coli bacteria.

The most memorable observation in the movie came from an independent farmer in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. He commented that we have perfected growing corn, even using GPS to fine-tune seed and fertilizer distribution on a field, but few people have questioned whether we should be growing so much of it in the first place. I think this is what is known as "you can't see the forest for all of the trees," or "you can't see the diabetes for all of the corn." One crop scientist estimates that 90% of products in the grocery store include corn.

It was eye-opening to learn that NAFTA displaced 1.5 million Mexican farmers who could no longer compete on price with US corn imports. The overall discussion of farm subsidies and other government regulation or lack thereof is also quite provoking.

This documentary could seem rather bleak, but the film ends focusing on the power of small choices. All of us vote three times a day for the type of food we want to eat. With over 300 million people in this country, that's around 365 billion votes a year. While the buying power of fast food chains led to the factory-style production of food, the demand for organic food has motivated companies like Wal-Mart to start carrying such products.

This film is shocking, though the filmmakers obviously made an effort to keep the PG rating.

I highly recommend this documentary!

You may also want to read: , edited by Karl Weber
  • Fast Food Nation: The dark side of the all-American meal by Eric Schlosser

  • Check out the movie's website (and see the movie trailer) at

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