Food Inc.

Food Inc.

Food Inc. (2008, Director: Robert Kenner): In this com­pre­hens­ive and yet com­pel­ling film, dir­ector Robert Kenner, along with authors Eric Schlosser (Fast Nood Nation) and Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma) indict the American (and by exten­sion, global) food industry. Just the fact that we call the pro­du­cers of our daily bread an industry at all shows what sort of major changes have taken place in the worlds of farm­ing and rais­ing live­stock in the past cen­tury. The explo­sion of fast food in the 1950s brought fact­ory meth­ods to the pro­duc­tion of food and the ensu­ing con­sol­id­a­tion among cor­por­a­tions has res­ul­ted in an increas­ingly mono­pol­istic mar­ket­place. To save costs, the size of farms and feed­lots and slaughter­houses has escal­ated and safety stand­ards and work­ing con­di­tions have plummeted.

This wide-ran­ging film touches on almost every con­ceiv­able issue that has affected our food sup­ply, from new bac­terial organ­isms that threaten our health, to deteri­or­at­ing gov­er­ment reg­u­lat­ory bod­ies, the wide­spread use of illegal immig­rant work­ers, and the explo­sion in dia­betes rates among the young. And yet we’re still sold an image of American’s agrarian past, and we believe it. None of the big food pro­du­cers were will­ing to talk to Kenner, and so he spoke to oth­ers: to the woman whose 2-year-old died from an E. Coli infec­tion, the chicken farmer who refused the demands of one of the big cor­por­a­tions and lost her con­tract, the man try­ing to fight for slaughter­house work­ers’ rights, and the artic­u­late organic farmer who’s simply try­ing to fight the good fight for hon­est and healthy food. And more than just talk­ing heads, there are some eye-pop­ping images from slaughter­houses and some incred­ible over­head shots of the vast feed­lots where the major­ity of our food comes from.

Food Inc.

Most dis­turb­ing, or at least prob­lem­atic, is the recent phe­nomenon of small organic food com­pan­ies being bought up by the large cor­por­a­tions. Is this a legit­im­ate attempt to “green” their busi­nesses, or is it just “gre­en­wash­ing”? Is the fact that Stonybrook Farm, the largest organic food com­pany, is now selling its products at Wal-Mart a good or a bad thing? The film touches on the sub­ject but leaves the con­clu­sions to us. That’s a bit symp­to­matic of a film which brings up so many ser­i­ous issues, but doesn’t have time to tackle them all. I’d recom­mend the two books above as a start­ing place, and the film’s accom­pa­ny­ing web site also prom­ises to be a use­ful resource, not just for edu­cat­ing ourselves, but for tak­ing some action.

It’s a little dif­fi­cult for me to be object­ive about this sub­ject, because I’ve read the books and have seen a num­ber of doc­u­ment­ar­ies over the past few years on this sub­ject, but I am hope­ful that this film has the poten­tial for mass appeal where oth­ers have not. After our screen­ing, there was a long ova­tion and some insight­ful ques­tions. It remains to be seen whether this film will catch the ima­gin­a­tion of the main­stream (non-film-fest­ival­goer) pop­u­la­tion. I des­per­ately hope so.

Official site where you can find next steps

Here is the Q&A with dir­ector Robert Kenner and author Eric Schlosser from after the screen­ing:

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Duration: 12:59


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2 Responses to Food Inc.

  1. James McNally says:

    Just updated the post with the new poster and added the trailer. The US release of the film is now sched­uled for June 12, but no word on a Canadian release yet.

  2. It would be great if this film takes off. So many are so com­pletely unaware of how food is pro­duced. When a farmer can’t go into his potato field after “treat­ing” it with pesti­cide and won’t even eat his own pota­toes grown for indus­trial agri­cul­ture, but has his own sep­ar­ate, organic plot for per­sonal pro­duce, you know we are in big trouble. This anec­dote is from Pollan’s chapter on the potato in his “The Botany of Desire.”

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