“Food, Inc.”, directed by Robert Kenner, and co-produced by Eric Schlosser (writer of “Fast Food Nation”) and Michael Pollan (writer of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma), takes an in depth view at a handful of various problems with the food industry in our country. I have been wanting to watch this movie for awhile and I am glad I finally did. It was a very difficult film to swallow but it really made me think about what I am putting into my body, where it comes from and how it gets to our supermarkets. It was shocking, to say the least. Powerful stuff.
We all know the evils of Agri-farming, but this movie brought it into sharp focus and showed me what the US Food Industry, and compromised government regulatory agencies such as the USDA, FDA, and EPA, who have in the past been led by folks well connected within the very industries they are supposed to regulate!
Before the closing credits the producers encouraged the audience to buy from farmers who treat their product, people and the environment with respect. So how can you tell what you are really getting? DO A TON OF RESEARCH (as have I since watching Food, Inc.)
I now read all the ingredients on the back of everything I want to buy. I am even tempted to go organic or only shop from Farmer’s Markets. However, that doesn’t guarantee that my food is local or seasonal or even truly organic!!! Scary to say the least. It depends on the rules of the jurisdiction, regulations regarding use of the term “farmers market,” and the by-laws voted on by the specific farmers market. I read online of one case where the market allows “up to” 40% not being grown by the vendor. Stop and think about this for a minute. Almost half the produce being sold could legitimately be bought at the nearest supermarket, only more expensive.
I also learned that the world’s food chain is built mainly on heavily subsidized and, therefore, cheap corn. In fact, all humans chew corn the whole day long from bread over meat (all animals are fed with corn) to deserts and drinks. Transnational corporations are even trying to teach fish to eat corn! Corn has become a food monoculture (almost).
What was even more shocking to me to learn is that in the film they mention a particular transnational company (*cough* Monsanto) who has developed, through genetic engineering, highly efficient corn seed which it patented, thereby creating a nearly seed monopoly. Buyers cannot use the produce of the seeds as plant seed for future harvests. The company’s own inspection force (they have some 70+ investigators within their own company) controls with hawk eyes that its clients buy new genetically modified seed every year. Some of the company’s supporters and former directors occupy key positions in US governments and government administrations (FDA). WOW. That is all I can say to that. Mind boggling.
Eating out of season is a big concern to me. I grew up in Hong Kong where we have our local wet markets. My Mom and I still go there on a daily basis to scout out fresh food that we can buy to cook for that evening’s dinner. I remember my Mom telling me “Oooh, mangoes are in season, lets get some.” or “Tomatoes are in seeason” . Now, you walk into any supermarket and you can find most foods all year round. That’s the problem… people have stopped tasting real food. We are so de-sensitized to the food industry nowadays and have beeen accostumed to having everything available to us at all times.
These are just two of the stories the film follows in detail. Providing a lot of information, the filmmakers connect the dots to illustrate why our food production system is in need of some drastic changes.
If we don’t change it, we are going to continue to get sick, some of us will continue to die. And it is all preventable.
Why do we allow it to continue? A handful of very large companies control all of the production of our processed foods. They lobby Congress and the Senate, getting the lawmakers to protect them. They don’t have to do anything about it. When there is an outbreak, they make some minor changes, but as we saw from the E-Coli outbreak in hamburger, it happened a few times and will no doubt happen again.
One of the best ways to find a farmer near you is to go to http://www.localharvest.org/ You can find farmers by your area. Another alternative is to join a CSA. You not only develop a relationship with the farmer(s) that way, you actually have a vested interest in his success. Even big cities like New York and San Francisco have operating CSAs, and you can find them with a little research.
In conclusion, people are getting the message. Organic foods, farmer’s markets and grocery chains like Whole Foods are becoming more and more prevalent popping up to meet the needs of a growing, more selective clientele.
Are you getting the message?
Or do you still want that hamburger that only costs $1?