One of the most vivid memories I have of watching this documentary about the food industry and industrial foods titled “Food, Inc.” is in the opening. The narrator states the way food is grown has dramatically changed in the last fifty years than in the past 10,000 years. Basically, food has been harvested and sold the same way for countless centuries until the last fifty years. That right there really saddened me. It also stated when you go into the grocery stores or see ads in magazines or on TV about food products they show images of beautiful pastoral rural settings with chickens running free and cows happily grazing in the grass.
The farmers are all happy too, but the reality of it all that’s not what you’re buying. Instead, the farms have become factories now. They are not the ones you may know from childhood songs and books. These animals are assembly lines living in horrific conditions. “Food, Inc.” breaks downs the many facets of how we buy and eat our food today. Even if you buy your food at the grocery store and don’t eat at fast food establishments it all comes from the same source. Now you’ll easily find meats with no bones in them, the perfect pork chop, bigger pieces of chicken breasts, tomatoes that never go bad and soybeans seeds that are insecticide-resistant. Unfortunately this has lead to outbreaks of the harmful bacteria known as e-coli that has caused illnesses and even deaths.
Fast Food and Food at Your Table
It started with the advent of fast foods that revolutionized the way our food is farmed, harvested and processed right to your supermarket’s meat department or fast food joint, then on to your dinner table. The food industry got the idea of the assembly line process from the MacDonald Brothers. Their system involved a method of cooking the hamburgers quickly. This meant they would be able to serve more customers faster and save money by hiring a cheaper labor force since it’s so easy to learn. In “Food, Inc.” they also stress it may look like there is a diversity of food products in your grocery store.
However, the reality is there are only a handful of multinational food companies. Their goal is to produce food in greater quantities more quickly by having farmers completely indebted to them financially and hiring workers comprised mostly of illegal immigrants. Since the decline of tobacco farming in the south many farmers have turned to chicken farming. The farmers could not show the camera crew what a darkened chicken house looked like inside. I don’t even want to imagine, because we were allowed to see a traditional chicken house with windows and it was deplorable. The chickens are ingested with antibiotics that make them grossly overweight. Some of them were too heavy to walk or stand anymore.
Corn is the Biggest Cash Crop
You’ll learn how corn is the basis for a lot of our food and other products. It is served to cows, even though they only eat grass. In this segment we learn about a mother who lost her son as result of the deadly bacteria called e-coli. They were on vacation when she made hamburgers for the family. Her son contracted e-coli and died twelve days later. It was heart-wrenching to hear her story. Now she is a firmly committed and staunch food advocate traveling to Washington, D.C. for meetings and hearings on the issues of food safety and better conditions with meat processing. In another story there’s a family who must rely on fast food as their source of meals since it is affordable on their budget. They go into a grocery store to buy some fruit and vegetables only to realize they can buy a lot more hamburgers than pears, broccoli and other produce. Sadly, as a result of the diet the father has Type 2 diabetes. We also see in poorer neighborhoods where grocery stores are non-existent and only fast foods chains are on every corner and block.
Organic Foods is the Way to go for some that is…
Polyface Farms in the picturesque Shenandoah Valley in Virginia is one such farm that is not a part of the industrial farming conglomerate. Joel Salatin is the proud owner of this farm that lets his chickens roam free outdoors, cows graze in wide open fields, and hogs that are happy in their natural habitat. It’s what most people would assume all farms are actually like. This one is a rare gem unfortunately. The messages in the film are to buy organic food products, because if more people buy organically the food companies will change their ways too. Take for instance the tobacco industry, it has been in a decline due to less smokers. However, the problem with buying organic foods and products is they are expensive. This certainly diminishes people like the family who wanted to buy regular produce, but found it too expensive for them.
Food for Thought (literally)
I’m only skimming the surface what this film actually reveals. You truly won’t look at food the same way again. It has literally changed my perspective. Now I want to eat more fruits and vegetables, plus buy only organic meats. “Food, Inc.” comes from the book of the same title by Eric Schlosser. This documentary was nominated for an Academy Award in 2010 for Best Documentary Feature, but lost out to “The Cove”. You can visit the official movie website to learn more about their Hungry for Change campaign and find other valuable materials. From the PBS.org website is more information about the documentary where you can post your reaction to the film. What “Fast Food Nation” and “Super Size Me” did for fast foods “Food, Inc.” is the definitive film of all-time on the food industry as a whole.
Food, Inc. (2008), IMDb
Food, Inc. – (2009) – Movie Info, Yahoo! Movies
Official Food, Inc. Movie Site – Hungry for Change?, Food, Inc. Movie
POV – Food, Inc., PBS