The Orozcos, eating cheap fast food out of financial necessity, in Food, Inc. © 2009 Magnolia Pictures
In Food, Inc., award-winning producer/director Robert Kenner takes on the American food industry to expose the corporate seizure of our food supply, sounding the wake-up call that fresh, safe, natural food is the new endangered species.
Delivering more villains than an episode of Star Wars and disturbing images guaranteed to kill your appetite, Food, Inc. explores the practices of corporate giants such as Tyson Foods, Monsanto, and Smithfield slaughterhouse in North Carolina. And the cast features a handful of farmers and consumer advocates such as investigative journalist and co-producer Eric Schlosser and award-winning journalist Michael Pollan, as well as acres of soybeans and corn, and densely crammed populations of chickens, cattle, and hogs.
Food, Inc. reminds us that the gap between consumers and our food source has become the longest distance between two points, shrouded in secrecy and unsafe practices that betray farmers, animals, and consumers. Poultry, for example, are now raised and slaughtered in half the time with no sunshine, fresh air, or space to roam, overweight from hormones and inactivity, standing in their own feces. The old image of clucking farm chickens pecking for food is an outdated low-profit model of pre-industrial days. And the bottom line, we learn, is all about business. We have stopped “raising animals” in favor of “producing food”—the largest quantities in the shortest time on the least amount of land, sold at affordable prices. Or as one Virginia farmer explains, “faster, fatter, bigger, cheaper.” And among the consequences is the nutrition crisis where the cheapest, most tempting foods deliver dangerous calories that lead to diabetes and obesity.
This unsettling film that was six years in the making is a model for aspiring documentarians, an educational requirement for students, and a survival tool for everyone who eats. Food, Inc. might inspire some of us to grow our food. And the rest of us might find ourselves shopping a little more consciously by reading labels, resisting processed products, favoring fresh local produce and farmers markets, and voting with our grocery dollars for safety, nutrition, and old-fashioned integrity.
If you think you already know about the hazards of food, this documentary has some harsh surprises. And if you think this film is the product of alarmists and conspiracy agitators who believe the sky is falling and all corporations are evil, then you, above everyone, should see Food, Inc. A
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