Movie Review: Food Inc.

>> Sunday, June 21, 2009

Being a food addict, I was interested to see this movie months ago when I first heard about it. Yes, I am interested on how food is produced even if it might change my views on the things I eat, I still want to know and as I've expected the news wasn't good.

Just in case you're not planning to watch this film. There are two major villains; corn and McDonald's business model based industrialization. According to the film, corn has been overproduced in the United States, so subsequently it was used to produced all kinds of additive to most processed foods we eat. Corn gets fed to cows, lingers in their stomach and the E. coli virus starts to reproduce. Since the cows are kept in close proximity and they steps in knee-deep manure and other bodily fluids when they are killed, the virus get spread and lingers in the meat sold in the supermarkets. Since United States are producing cheap corn, they put Mexican corn growers out of business, while the United States slaughterhouses recruit them to come to U.S. and work for them. Even the immigration knows about illegal workers, they only arrest a few every now and then to maintain production.

Industrialization of meat and crop production lets big company like Tyson, Perdue or soybean tyrant Monsanto dictate their products and any grower or farmer. In general, chicken farmer had to invest $200K for the initial cost of the chicken house and pressured to go further into debt to buy new equipments in order to maintain their contract, yet their annual income is about $15K. Monsanto who has a patent on a particular genetically altered soybean strand sends out ex-military "investigators" to do periodic "surveys" to make sure that the crops of the ones who do not pay loyalty to them does not contain beans of their strands.

Lawsuits are used to keep farmers and growers in line as big corporation have the resource to sue anyone for anything, while small-time farmers do not have the resource to defend themselves and are forced to settle for the lack of legal fees, or forced to go out of business. You can get sued for defaming food products just like Oprah did for saying bad things about beef. Lobbyists are hired to change regulations, so the food safety regulations have more leeway, while staff at these food company will eventually become FDA officials and change regulations internally. At the same time regulations are in place to forbid the FDA closing down food productions companies even if it violates safety rules repeatedly. There seems to be little justice for farmers and protection for consumers.

At the end, the movie asks consumers to change the market by purchasing local-grown, organic and products like grass-fed beef to sway the market to healthier and more humane and conscious choice. I have never realize how chickens are brought up in feces and disease filled house, or how they are fed hormones and antibiotics into a size where their legs can't even support themselves just so they can produce more white meat. Or how in order to kill E. coli, they produce an ammonia filler to put into burgers. So it's quite informative for me.

Although I'm afraid to say that it will be hard for me to change my eating habits, and go for the more expensive produce and meats. I don't think I have enough resources at my disposal to pay more so I can clear my conscience. The things I can do might be to swear off soybeans and lower my corn/sugar and my fast food consumption. I think it's an essential film for people to watch and understand where their food comes from, but at the same time I feel like they could have went more in depth on the subject. B-

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