Exposing the Underbelly of the Food Industry
Modified chickens are bred so large their legs can’t support the weight for more than a few steps. Cattle spend their lives huddled together knee-deep in a slough of their own manure. Vegetables and fruits are genetically altered and made available to us year round, regardless of seasons. Only a handful of conglomerates control the entire U.S. food supply and keep the true nature of their industry veiled from the general public.
Food, Inc. serves up a steaming platter of unappetizing revelations about our food industry. Americans are detached from the food production process to an alarming degree. The idyllic imagery of family farms on grocery store labels obfuscates the unsavory treatment of livestock and workers alike by the industry. Food is big business.
While the film initially spends a good chunk of time exposing the deplorable conditions in which chickens, cattle and hogs are kept prior to slaughter, Food, Inc. reaches further. Not even the vegetarian-friendly soybean is innocent. The Monsanto company has patented its seeds and owns 90% of the soybeans produced. Farmers are forbidden from saving their own seeds from year to year and must buy a new batch from Monsanto. Not surprisingly, many of Monsanto’s top executives and lobbyists became chief players in the FDA and USDA during the Bush administration.
Food, Inc. employs a number of first-person horror stories, such as the young boy who was killed by E Coli from tainted beef, and the low-income family that lives on cheap fast food rather than pricier vegetables so they can afford the father’s expensive diabetes medication. The cheapest foods lead to the most expensive health care costs. As “green” farmer Joel Salatin puts it, wouldn’t it be a noble goal if we insisted on producing food that makes people feel better, and measure our success as a nation on reducing the number of people who go to the hospital each year? Talk about health care reform.
By utilizing snazzy graphics and breathtaking aerial footage of cornfields juxtaposed with troubling shots from the kill floor, Food, Inc. is a shock to the system. Unlike Michael Moore or Morgan Spurlock ventures, Food, Inc. is not so much confrontational as it is revealing. It’s difficult to walk into a supermarket and view food in the same way.
There is an upbeat tone that pierces through the drudgery as well. Even major corporations like Wal-Mart will stop carrying certain products (milk from cows with bovine growth hormone) if the public demands it. While it seems like the individual is powerless against the monolithic juggernauts, it’s pointed out that each time we buy something from the grocery, we are voting.
If you’re looking for cinematic candy, Food, Inc. may be a bitter pill to swallow, but it will nourish your mind.