Review: Food Inc. -by Mz Berlin

FOOD Inc - by MzBerlin

Food Inc. is a fascinating flick, and very well put together. It deals with subjects that can easily be sensationalized and it doesn't use that tactic to convey its' point. Highlighting different aspects of the food industry, it presents a convincing argument for changing the way we consume, purchase and think about food.

I've been itching to watch this ever since I saw the Michael Pollan interview on  The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I was immediately impressed with the way he presents the argument for sustainable food without being an extremist in terms of diet. I'm committed to dairy products (I am probably 50% cheese and ice cream at this point) and can't imagine a life without an occasional steak, and whenever a vegan or (permanent) vegetarian diet was invoked as a cure for the state of our planet I sort of tuned out. Don't get me wrong, I've been on board with Meatless Mondays and Mr. Fitzgerald and I consume far more veggies than dead animals, but it sort of became background noise. But this film really brought the issues that affect us, and our food, front and center. And it didn't cause me to tune out. Food, Inc., for lack of a better phrase, "kept it real."

And they were able to do it without relying only on their ability to tug at our heartstrings. They could've used all of their time and energy showing video of animals mistreated within the manufacturing food system, but they didn't. There were a few clips of people treating animals harshly, and it did get me in the gut, but it wasn't the entire movie. I must admit, I was afraid it would be. But the filmmakers were smarter than that. They appealed to logic and our pocketbooks as well. By following the food manufacturing chain and showing us, the consumers, how we're being duped into purchasing the same products in different packages, as well as the effects of each and every purchase, they created a convincing argument for buying locally, in season and as sustainable as possible.

The film covered a wide variety of subjects including the obesity/diabetes epidemic, food borne illness, factory farming procedures and conditions and genetic engineering. It illustrated how they're all connected and how we can affect change as a society in each instance.

We hear about obesity, diabetes and income level a lot, at least here in America. The likelihood of a person getting diabetes is 1 in 3 if they're low income, and 1 in 2 if they're a minority. Over a quarter of people in the US are obese, regardless of income level, and well over half are overweight. This is a direct result of fatty fast food that's full of empty calories being so cheap and healthy food being expensive. The family in the film is shown purchasing fast food, then an interview with the mother of the family is shown where she complains about how expensive the diabetes medication is for her husband. She also refuses to purchase a pear at the store for her daughter because a fast food hamburger is cheaper. In her instance, and millions of other families' realities, it's a trade off. Cheaper food now, more expensive medical bills in the future. If more people bought pears, for example, the price would go down. Like nuclear energy, you're just putting off paying the piper.

Food borne illness are also addressed in Food, Inc., and completely freak me out. The fact that it's so easily avoidable really bothers me, too. Apathy allows so many undesirable things to slip through the cracks. I find it disturbing that these huge corporations dismiss deaths as collateral damage. Find out more about Kevin's' Law here.

The segment on factory farming procedures is probably what will bother most viewers the most. Scared cows, chickens and pigs crammed together in unsanitary conditions. Genetically engineered to get as big as possible in as short a time as possible before being slaughtered. It made me incredibly sad to see the animals in filthy conditions and being treated without regard. As I stated before, I'm not a vegetarian, but that doesn't mean that I'm OK with my food being treated with no respect. As a counterpoint to this farming angle, Food, Inc. interviewed Joel Salatin. He's a fascinating character who farms meat sustainably and lectures on the subject as well. He's so common sense that it's hard to argue with his logic.

The thing that bothered me the most, next to the inhumane way that animals are kept in the factory farming system, was the way that farmers are forced to use genetically modified crops and are punished for not using them. It makes me incredibly sad that diversity isn't encouraged in farming, and that farmers are forced into debt or just able to keep their heads above water because of the monopoly that Monsanto has on seeds. The idea that a farmer would be punished for not purchasing seeds from this company is disturbing and scary.

As for affecting change, it's really common sense. Eat more "real food." Eat food that's in season. Eat foods that are sustainable. I feel very lucky to live in California and to have access to resources for local, fresh foods of all kinds. If you live in a different state and have a a resource that helps you work it out, let me know and I'll post it here on my blog.

To sum up, I think this movie is awesome. It explains WHY it's so important to change the way we eat. It uses common sense to illustrate its' points and demonstrates the need to maintain genetic diversity in produce, feed our livestock foods they're able to digest, monitor food production to keep us safe and to reject the idea that we need everything all the time in order to be satiated.

Comments welcome!