Thursday, July 16, 2009

Food, Inc.

Food, Inc. is one of the most horrifying movies I’ve seen in years. And with a PG rating, that’s saying something.

I went into this film with my laymen’s understanding of food. Processed food, whether it be fast or junk= bad. Organic food= good. But believe me, the deceit runs much deeper than that.
With the help of food geniuses Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser, director Robert Kenner helps expose the food industry with this searing documentary. After watching the film, I’m surprised Kenner had the audacity to even bring the subject up. Here’s what I mean.

A running figure in the documentary is a middle aged mother who lost her young son to e. coli. Her child, you see, simply ate a bad burger and died 12 days later. No justice has come of this in the years since, so the mother is now a food safety advocate trying to pass Kevin’s Law, which would make food companies test for poor meat more thoroughly. But here’s the fascinating part. In one interview clip, director Kenner, off camera, asks the mother what food she eats. Simple question, right? Wrong. The mother kindly refuses to answer, saying that she will certainly be sued by the food bosses, simply for saying which food she enjoys.

And that’s just 30 seconds of the movie. Throughout the rest of the film, I learned more than I have in a slew of recent documentaries. And that’s the wonder of this film, it doesn’t use a catchy gimmick (Super Size Me) or try to pound its cause into your head over and over and over (An Inconvenient Truth), instead it presents its information, and lets you decide how to handle it.

The underlying message of the film is simple: know what you eat. Really, know. But it isn’t that easy. There is a heartbreaking segment with a poor family who drives through Burger King almost daily. Why? Because three items on the dollar menu can fill you up for cheaper than fresh vegetables at the grocery store. And that’s the point. The carrots need to be cheaper than the chips. A

Note: I stopped eating red meat two years ago due to the content I saw in a 20 minute documentary that takes place in a Parisian slaughterhouse. And while the images in Food, Inc. aren’t nearly as repulsive, they’re enough to turn you off chicken.

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