You'll never look at dinner the same way

Pretty much!

width=108Political documentaries are more often than not guilty of skewing the truth - cherry picking footage, and facts to drive a point home. I was hoping it wouldn't be too Michael-Moore-ish in its sensationalism and selective editing, and yet not vacuous and devoid of rationale, personality and pragmatism like Super-Size Me (yes, I am a harsh movie critic).

I have to say I got what I had hoped for...

Food Inc. is as enlightening as it is sobering.

For anyone familiar with the work of Michael Pollan or Eric Schlosser, the contents of the film are covered in their investigative written work. The informed and uninitiated alike, however will find this movie disturbing if not frightening.

Here are some highlights of the film:

  • The last 50 years of agriculture has changed more than it has in the last 10,000 years.
  • The American supermarket carries an average of 47,000 products, and has no seasons.
  • A very small amount of large corporations own virtually the entire food chain.
  • McDonald's was the catalyst for how the food industry operates today. They introduced the model of uniformity and conformity - two attributes that have shaped the way ground beef is produced.
  • Today's chickens are twice the weight, and get there in half the time they did in the 1950's.
  • Corn is in just about everything. Farm Bills are geared towards commodity crops (corn, soybeans)
  • Feeding cattle corn has introduced acid-resistant strains of e. coli. The beef industry uses ammonia to kill the bacteria.
  • It is illegal in many states to criticize the meat industry.
  • Many former executives of large food companies have subsequently held positions on the boards of the FDA and USDA.
  • Monsanto has a patent on plant genes and relentlessly pursues legal action against independent farmers for seed patent violations.

All in all, Food Inc. is a clever and enlightening look at the most pressing food issues facing the US (and the world) today. The interviews and footage are very impacting, and it would be difficult NOT to reflect about where your food actually comes from after seeing the film.

And, while I took a jab at Michael Moore earlier in the post, I do think Food Inc. could have had more of his style to jazz things up a bit. Although everybody in the food industry was tight-lipped and refused to comment, it would have been great to have footage of attempts - if only to see these big food execs squirm a little. That's my only complaint.

The bottom line: Vote with your dollars.

Has anyone else seen Food Inc? What did you think of it?