Saturday, July 18, 2009

Get your activist on and go see "Food, Inc."

But you might opt for water and fruit over coke and popcorn.

From the early days of fast food when the McDonald brothers brought the factory system to the back rooms of restaurants, Food, Inc. illustrates how that mentality of uniformity, conformity and cheapness has taken over the food industry.

Here are a few highlights, without going into too much detail and trying to decipher my notes and quotes written in the dark theatre. The film explores where our food comes from and asks you to do the same. It looks at the few farms that do the plumped-up work of what hundreds or thousands of farms used to do, and the control that major corporations exert over them.

It was heartbreaking to see chicken farms where, often raised in the dark, the chickens couldn't even stand or walk more than a step or two, since their bones cannot keep up with their high-speed weight gain. (Apparently America's demand for big breasts goes beyond the hills of Hollywood.)

Equally heartbreaking, for me, a new found lover of tofurkey, was the organic, open-air farm where farmer Steve espoused the health benefits of a small farm to the background soundtrack of the bleating, panicked chickens getting their throats cut while their fellow captives watched.

The entire film made me an even more careful reader of labels (and for a gluten-free girl that's already a given) and encouraged me to check the website of Monsanto, who have a patent on their genetically modified soybeans and are vilified in the film. The film stated that they, like all the major corporations in the movie, "declined to be interviewed for this film." I found, however, that they were more than willing to give their side of the story online. When I emailed and asked them why they had not made a statement for the film, I was told:

"Regarding Food, Inc., please do not assume that something is true only because is included in a movie. We tried to give our side of the story, we had conversations with the producers and invited them to attend to a big ag tradeshow to know more about the company and our customers. You can read what really happened here:

"Food, Inc. is bias film that misleads people that are really interested in knowing the facts about our food system." ~ Monsanto spokesperson

I was raised to question everything (thank you, Eugene Oregon) so naturally I do not believe everything that I see in a film. However, I also do not believe everything a PR person from a large corporation tells me. I simply ask, who has the most money to lose/defend?

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