Saturday, July 25, 2009

Food Inc., The Movie Review

Stop reading this right now and go look up Food, Inc. the movie. Find out where it is showing near you, make plans to see it, then come back.

I left this movie with an array of stirred up emotions, such as sadness, anger, surprise and disappointment. Let me try to explain.

First, this documentary is being shown in one theater in my city; I'm sure for a limited time only. The theater chosen was not one of the newer locations in the suburbs where our city seems to be sprawling. No, it was shown in a small, old theater in the center of town, a location where I used to go to movies in high school, over 26 years ago. The theater was not even 1/4 full at prime movie time on a Friday night.

The fact that the masses will likely not see this movie is a total shame. It presents information that every consumer in America should see and know, and it impacts everyone. The question is, do we really want to know all about the food we feed to our children and put in our mouths every day? Once we do, we might feel compelled to make difference choices. Do we even know what those are? Clearly we move rapidly through our busy lives, day in and day out, pressed for time and money and choosing the best we can given our need for convenience and our current circumstances.

Why aren't we asking questions such as who grows our food? Where is it grown? What are the conditions? How is this food processed? Is it safe? How is it altered? Is it healthy? Is it labeled correctly and transparently with important facts? What does it go through to get to me? And as one of the narrators in the movie puts it so well, we should basically be asking if we can see in the kitchen.

The movie is very well presented. Don't be afraid to go see it, they get the point across without footage that is too squeamish. A lot of information is covered in a well-organized fashion and they give you the opportunity to hear compelling stories from farmers, consumers, workers, families etc. Notice I didn't mention companies in the food industry. Several apparently were approached but declined to comment. That is unfortunate, but even still the movie plainly states when that is the case and moves on. The narrators are not very animated, but it fits with the overall somber tone of the issues presented. It also prevents it from having a sensational feel to it. I found that refreshing in this day and time of being saturated with dramatic media coverage.

The movie does cover poor working conditions, unfair treatment of workers, the horrendous living conditions for many animals that are bred for food, the process of producing food in mass and as fast as possible, the prices of produce vs. fast food, the fact that we don't always know what's going into our food and several broken processes in ensuring safety of food. It's overwhelming to think of how much would have to be done to make the price of produce better than the price of fast food. (See a related post, Pay Now or Pay Later).

One of the most compelling stories told is by the mother who lost her child to food poisoning with E. coli O157:H7, traced back to a hamburger. The movie shares her journey all the way to the White House to try to change the processes of food safety. She and her mother are still fighting. We see video footage of his sweet face. His name was Kevin. He was two years old.

I don't want my grandchildren to grow up thinking food comes from a grocery store or a restaurant. When I was growing up, my grandparents grew their own vegetables in a modest but very productive garden. They were grown in the summer, eaten fresh and "put up" for eating in the winter. Fruits and veggies were eaten seasonally. Much of their meat was wild game. The turkey we ate for Thanksgiving every year was killed by my grandfather. Local farmers market or grocery store trips were for eggs, flour and milk. I don't have a garden, but maybe I should. I shop at the local farmer's market, but only for select items. Can we all live like my grandparents did? I think not, but I've at least seen and understand the process in my 44 years. My grandbaby doesn't know life before a juice box or fruit snacks. Is that good? Is that really how we define progress?

On a positive note, we get to hear from a couple of very passionate farmers. One in particular energetically shares his thoughts as we see exerpts from his farm and processes. The cows in pasture eating grass, pigs and chickens that have room to roam. The entire image provides a sense of relief and hope to the picture. One of the farmers is convinced that healthy, wholesome food can be provided if they are just given the chance.

At the end of the movie, there is an encouraging presentation. It turns the focus to treating people, animals and the land with respect. Suggestions include eating in season, buy from local farmers markets, trying organic. It reminds us that we can change the world, one bite at a time. But that will only happen if we get the message out.

If you see this movie, and I hope you do, please comment here as I am very interested in your thoughts and what actions you may plan to take as a result of it.

If you enjoyed this post, you might want to read The End of Overeating Review


Anna @ pathtofatloss said...

Hi Kelley, I haven't seen the movie but I would be interested in watching it. There's a theater here that shows it but it's about 40 mins away.

Anyway, lately I have been bothered by where my food comes from and how fresh it really is. So, just a few weeks ago, I started that habit of buying my fruits and vegetables from the farmer's market. I found that the fruits are much sweeter and crunchier. I haven't noticed any difference in the vegetables though but that's probably because I mostly cook them.

Thanks for a great post. I can't wait to watch the movie now.


Greenteagirl said...

The closest this is playing to me is Philadelphia, PA. I'm in NJ! I think I may have to wait until it comes out on DVD. Sounds like a great documentary!

Not sure if you've seen it already, but there's a great documentary you can watch on your computer for free about genetically modified organisms or GMO foods called "The Future of Food". Here's the link.

Thanks for the review!

Kelley Moore said...

Anna, we have been enjoying our local farmers market too. My husband in particular eats a lot of squash and zucchini and has been getting it there. We also have loved buying tomatoes there. It seems we don't remember how flavorful one is until we buy it local. Can't wait to hear your thoughts on the movie!

greenteagirl, that's a total bummer that the movie is so far away, but you're right we can still get it eventually on DVD. Thanks so much for the link! I will check that out!

Thomas Watson said...

It was a good film. It made me angry!