cruelty, eric schlosser, factory farms, fast food nation, film, film review, food inc, food safety, food safety bills, genetically engineered food, genetically modified food, genetically modified organisms, gmo, immigrant labor, industrial food, labor abuse, michael pollan, monsanto, news, omnivores delight, politics, rady ananda, robert kenner, the meatrix, the world according to monsanto
Factory food sickens humans, livestock and the environment
By Rady Ananda
What we eat has changed more in the last 50 years than in the last 10,000. So asserts Robert Kenner’s new film, FOOD, Inc., which opens nationwide June 19th. The vast bulk of food production is now controlled by just a few mega-corporations with one value: profit. Relying on genetic engineering, pesticides and antibiotics, factory food is cheap, requiring little land. But the external costs to our health, the environment and the natural food industry are enormous.
Director: Robert Kenner
Producers: Robert Kenner and Elise Pearlstein
Co-Producer: Eric Schlosser
Released by Magnolia Pictures, with Participant Media and River Road Entertainment
FOOD, Inc. is the single most important film of the decade. Transcending hype and industry muzzling, the film exposes some of the cruel and unnatural aspects of industrial farms and food processing. It links epidemic rates of US obesity and diabetes with our intake of genetically engineered food. (Trailer here.)
NPR called it this summer’s “suspense thriller.” The film condemns how workers and animals are abused. Illegal immigrants, who cannot complain about working conditions, comprise most of the workers at industrial food plants. They are vulnerable to raids and deportation. No corporate executives are arrested.
Well researched and well scored, the film debunks the pastoral fantasy spin. Industrial food is not grown, raised or processed on a farm. The animals see no sunshine, are kept immobile in cages, and are genetically or chemically modified. Those that are somewhat mobile are bioengineered to plump their bodies faster than their bones and muscles can support. They flop helplessly to the floor when trying to move.
Featured in the film is Barbara Kowalcyk, whose toddler died from E. coli. “We put faith in our government to protect us, and we’re not being protected at the most basic level.”
She has since become a food safety advocate, fighting to give the USDA back its power to shut down plants that repeatedly produce contaminated meats.
That’s not likely to happen given that Monsanto lawyers now head Obama’s ‘food safety’ team, and are currently tweaking a slew of bills that will hyper-regulate small, independent farmers out of business. Monsanto, Tyson, Smithfield and Purdue all declined to be interviewed for the film.
Private food production, churches, and raw milk producers are being criminalized. Even saving seeds has been criminalized. And if laws aren’t enough, these multi-national corporations file frivolous lawsuits that put independent farmers out of business.
FOOD exposes what industrial food is doing to us, and shows that these effects are being hidden from us. Monsanto has fought vigorously to oppose labeling of GMO food. It is illegal to take pictures of factory farms.
The film asserts that consumers can change how industry operates by choosing organic and buying from local farmers, and even by growing small gardens. Wal-Mart stopped carrying milk with r-BGH, a bovine growth hormone that causes mastitis, necessitating antibiotics, which humans then consume. r-BGH has been linked to cancer.
Well known in the safe-food movement, co-producer Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) and Michael Pollan (Omnivore’s Dilemma) impacted the film’s direction. There’s no limit to health and environmental implications from factory farms, and dozens of significant facts are presented.
But the most credible speakers are the independent farmers, especially Joel Salatin of Virginia:
“When you add up the environmental costs, societal costs, health costs, industrial food is not honest. It’s not priced honestly. It’s not produced honestly. There’s nothing honest about that food.”
We watch animals roam freely, and cows eating grass, which their bodies can digest (instead of corn). This is juxtaposed with a horrific scene with a live cow that has had its side opened. A scientist sticks his hand into the rumen to remove the indigestible food.
Instead of manure lagoons that factory farms need (since their animals are caged 24-7), farmers explain that free-roam cattle manure is dealt with naturally.
Flooded manure lagoon (USDA)
The most important implication of our food supply is the health consequences on our nation. This is where moviegoers will sit up and pay attention:
One in three Americans born after 2000
will contract early onset diabetes.
This is because 70% of our food contains genetically modified organisms – from milk to ketchup to snacks to meat, and nearly everything that is sweetened. Factory farms bring this to us as food filler – a way to make a buck while sickening the public, our animals, and the environment.
Another implication is that concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) invite the development and rapid spread of diseases, as compared to free-range animal operations. A recent New Scientist article supports these assertions.
“The conditions in which animals are kept can favour the evolution of new and deadlier strains.
“For instance, in the wild, nasty flu strains that make animals too ill to walk or fly are unlikely to spread far. On crowded factory farms, they can spread like wildfire, helped by the global trade in animals and animal products.”
FOOD does not explore the implications of the global food trade. It does not mention Codex, a set of agreements that supercede a nation’s food safety laws. Save that for Part II. This film just talks about what the U.S. is being fed, and how it’s created.
Most Americans can take in one sitting this excellent exposé of our centralized food system. Saving the most important point for last:
“You can vote to change the system…
three times a day.
Be a food renegade: buy healthy, eat healthy, and enjoy improved health. FOOD, Inc.’s website offers ten Take Action items.
Animation in 3 parts: The Meatrix.
Full length: The World According to Monsanto
Institute for Responsible Technology
A look at current food ‘safety’ bills in Congress
Not a peep about it in aus yet:-( I am waiting for the release.
Sadly fools here have followed blindly in creating feedlots for cattle, and chicken farms are still horror shows in most instances.Piggeries are from hell, purely torture.
Love Polyface Farm and Joe Salatin is a hero! shows that happy animals healthy soil and healthy food for people CAN be done without cruelty and in a sustainable and profitable way. its a 4!! way winner, soil- plants- animals and people.
The film reveals that Wal-Mart is now selling organic milk. I found this blog from last year that refutes that:
Is Horizon Milk really organic?
November 18, 2008
No. Apparently it is not. Which explains why it’s so cheap and why Wal-Mart sells it. I had a friend tell me about this who read it somewhere, so one to never just take anyone’s word for it, I did a little research and found that Horizon is NOT organic, just as my friend had said. No Horizon products for this house.
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Rady Ananda said:
that’s good news about Salatin – I had never heard of him before.
The film has sold out in all screenings… this will be a mega hit.
good luck in Aussieland… 😉
Boo Boo M said:
MMMMM Meat…Yum, Yum, Yum. Vienna canned mini weenies are the best, although Spam will do.
Rady Ananda said:
funny guy, I knew it was you …
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Great review! Hope the CD comes out quick so we can do with this what was done with AFFTF!
Joel’s got a long list of books out that you’d enjoy – but be sure to read “Everything I Want to do is Illegal” – another good eye-opener, and more timely today, given the new “food safety” bills, than even when it was written.
Rady Ananda said:
Hey, thanks Sue ~ I saw mention of that book while researching for this review. It does sound good… I’ll definitely read it.
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Merideth Miller said:
Hey Rady! I noticed that you discussed the film Food Inc. on your blog and I wanted to let you know about a film called Our Daily Bread which I think you would find fascinating. It’s similar to Food Inc. in how it illuminates the horrific reality of industrial agriculture, however; Our Daily Bread is not an advocacy film in the traditional sense. The film communicates its messages using provocative images of places where food is produced by going deep inside the world of high-tech agriculture. Our Daily Bread touches on animal husbandry, labor issues, and the shocking reality of food production with a very distinctive style. The film is available on home video and can be purchased on our website. We are an independent company with limited resources, so if our film interests you, I would appreciate it if you could mention it in an upcoming post. If you have any questions about Our Daily Bread or Icarus Films, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Rady Ananda said:
At Meredith’s invitation, I reviewed Our Daily Bread at http://bit.ly/19YxZl
It had me glued to the screen; the film was totally unexpected in its presentation. ODB is years ahead of the curve.
Summer Cow said:
yep so many of us are trying to grow our own food now, but it’s sometimes hard to get going on it, as we try to survive the slave/master economy. But with diligence we will succeed.
Rady Ananda said:
I’ve started a garden, too, this year. The beans are totally given over to ants. And they tasted terrible. (I didn’t use heirloom seeds, tho.) The cucumber plant is barely alive – but no cukes yet. My tomato plant has sprouted two – and I ate one. It was nice to eat it warm off the vine. that was a treat!
The carrots – who knows? They’re underground. The leafy part above ground looks healthy, tho. I have no idea how long they take… I don’t want to pick them too early tho.
The radishes died… lol. But, we’re gonna keep trying. It’s kinda fun – picking caterpillars off the plants… ewww
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Thanks for clearing some things up, I’ve been confused about this for a while now.
another good book is Bread from Stones:-)
its available at Acres Usa, and dont be misled it doesn’t mean gritty bread..its about mineralising the soil for healthy grain = bread:-)
Andre Voisins Soils Grass and Cancer is also there in reprint, a good read too.
Rady, you need a chook or a duck, they love bugs and value add in poop and eggs. Khaki Campbell ducks tend to be garden sparing, do not get a Moscovy, they trash a patch flat and eat the rest. to know if the carrots are ready simply run your finger round the top of the plant where it meets the soil, anything over about 2 inches round is edible, leave lomger = bigger,4 to 8 weeks average,depending on soil and weather but too long =split and bitter. always leave a plant in to go to seed, to save money(not hybrids)