Food, Inc., the powerful, and slightly depressing, documentary about our modern food industry is out on DVD today. You can buy the movie from Amazon.com here. If you didn’t have a chance to catch this movie in theaters earlier this year, it is highly recommended.
The documentary touches upon many aspects of the modern, industrialized food system, whose quest for efficiency and economies of scale has led to cheap food for everyone. This, at a high cost to the environment, farmers, animals, and our health.
The first part of the movie examines meat and poultry “production” by taking the viewer to CAFO – concentrated animal feeding operation – basically a huge factory for building the biggest, fattest, animal in the shortest amount of time and with the cheapest feed possible.
The next segment focuses on corn and how this single crop, heavily subsidized by the US government, has completely changed the food industry. This, mostly through using it as cheap feed for animals, and even cheap sweetener in the form of high fructose corn syrup.
The last part discusses food safety, or rather unsafety that is the result of the huge factory farm systems. A mother who lost her two year old son to e-coli, from a hamburger he ate when they were on a family vacation, is now crusading for improved safety standards. Unfortunately for her, she and the few congress-people on her side are facing a massive, well-funded food/ag lobby that likes things just as they are.
The movie is presented straight forward without the over-dramatizations of Michael Moore’s works, yet it is this lackluster narrative that drives the message home.
Some critics view the movie as a one-sided attack on the food industry that does not provide real alternatives to feeding a planet with 6 billion people. The producers stated that they invited all the large food manufacturers to share their views and participate in the movie, but that they had declined.
We’ll let you be the judge, but don’t base your decision on just one movie. Read more about the food you’re eating, how it got to your table, your supermarket, your country.
For us, one big question looms after learning the issues: Is there an inherent conflict between economies of scale and sustainable food production?
What to do at the supermarket:
You’ll certainly view the food you eat and buy differently after watching Food, Inc. While some people may take an extreme approach and revamp their entire pantry, most of us can make slower gradual changes in our eating habits.
Here are some of the changes the movie’s producers suggest:
Stop drinking sodas and other sweetened beverages. You can lose 25 lbs in a year by replacing one 20 oz soda a day with a no calorie beverage (preferably water).
Eat at home instead of eating out. Children consume almost twice (1.8 times) as many calories when eating food prepared outside the home.
Tell schools to stop selling sodas, junk food, and sports drinks. Over the last two decades, rates of obesity have tripled in children and adolescents aged 6 to 19 years.
Meatless Mondays—Go without meat one day a week.
Buy organic or sustainable food with little or no pesticides. According to the EPA, over 1 billion pounds of pesticides are used each year in the U.S.
Make a point to know where your food comes from—READ LABELS. The average meal travels 1500 miles from the farm to your dinner plate.
Remember that whatever small upgrades you choose, you’ll be affecting not only your health, but also impacting the environment, and all the people, animals, and crops along the food chain from farm to the fork.
Help us test our new food comparison tool: alpha.fooducate.com