Food Inc. Sobering

Food Inc. aired on Newsworld Sunday night. This is not a documentary you want to watch before retiring for the night. Some of the images are graphic but the message is alarming.

I was up for hours afterward- not normally a problem except for the fact that Mondays tend to be difficult at the best of times.

Though the last two minutes of the documentary were positive in stating the power is ultimately with the consumer/citizen- right now I don’t have a lot of faith in humanity.

It’s not that I was completely unaware of the realities of modern-day food production and the implications but the cold harsh reality of the mess we are in had me up half the night. There are many elements that remind me of another documentary that was also as enlightening as it was depressing, The Corporation.

Food Inc. relies heavily on the investigative reporting of Eric Schlosseer of Fast Food Nation fame (I have my brother’s copy but I have yet to read it) and Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma.  

I honestly don’t know where to begin- each revelation was worse than the last. It is hard not to feel a little helpless in light of the fact that the majority of the food we eat is controlled produced by a handful of corporations with boatloads of money, power, influence, politicians in their back pockets and armies of high priced lawyers who are just chomping at the bit to litigate dissenters into oblivion.   

At the very least I have to read Fast Food Nation. Many people have vowed never to patronize a fast food joint ever again after reading this book. I’ll reserve a copy of The Omnivore’s Dilemma at the library. I remember reading about this book when it was published and hoping he can make an argument good enough to enable me to continue eating a varied diet AND sleep soundly at night.

The issues are complex- it is both alarming and fascinating how the all the dots line up and the circles are completed. The documentary gives you a snapshot but I need to know more. In looking for more information about Michael Pollan, I came across some lectures on YouTube worth checking out.

I would be doing a disservice in attempting to distill the message of the documentary into a few points but I’ll try:

  • Our industrialized food system is unsustainable on all levels without doing what it is supposed to do, that is, providing us with healthy food.
  • Cheap is expensive.
  • Food production largely rests with a few multinationals but what they get away with is due to the complacency of the consumer.
  • The dependency of our (centralized) food system on cheap fuel and foreign sources making us all sitting ducks should there be contamination, a terrorist attack, increases in fuel prices.
  • It is not hopeless- despite the David and Goliath nature of what we should be struggling with.

I am sure I am missing a lot but ultimately we need to reconnect with our food, where it comes from, what it looks like, how to prepare it, what it should be doing for us- but isn’t considering the high rates of obesity, diabetes….

The fight to take back control of our food is overwhelming but I have to believe there is something each of us can do. They leave us with the idea that we all get to “vote” three times a day.

How we spend our money is important. We won’t get it right every single time but we can’t let this deter us from making the “right” or better choices when we can.

My fear is this documentary, these books and others like them only preach to the converted.

And therein lies the rub.


~ by angryegg on April 13, 2010.

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