Food, Inc. Review

Jane and I went to see Food, Inc. this weekend.  It has a limited release, so if you are interested in seeing this film here is a list of its scheduled showings.  (If you are in the Los Angeles area, it is playing at the NuArt in Santa Monica through Thursday, and will be at the Landmark in West LA starting the 19th.)

UPDATE: CLICK HERE to reserve your very own copy of Food, Inc. now:

Since we went vegan, we've been doing a lot of reading about food.  Sometimes it feels like all we do is talk about food: the way we eat, what we eat, why we changed our diet, where we get our protein, etc.  So much of the information presented in this film was familiar to us, but still, it was a worthwhile experience.  And some of the things we learned were truly shocking to us.  For instance, there are laws in place in 13 states which protect food manufacturers from people making "disparaging comments" about their food products.  Manufacturers are allowed to sue under libel laws.  Colorado takes things even further by making veggie libel a criminal rather than civil offense.  Frightening!  I guess I'm just a little naïve here, but I would expect my government to protect me against the big corporations.

Robert Kennar does a good job touching on most aspects of the food industry.  For example, the movie starts out by pointing out that the average supermarket sells 47,000 items but this is truly an illusion of diversity since 90% of the items contain corn and/or soy products, and there are only a few companies at the top level that manage agri-business in the United States.  One farmer comments that the farmer's decision making process has been outsourced to the corporate boardroom.  It's all about the bottom line, as opposed to good stewardship of the earth or animals.

Kennar takes you through a tour of what farming means today in America.  And here we were feeling all good about ourselves for being vegan.  What this movie says Monsanto does to the soy farmers makes me want to give up tofu entirely. Monsanto, the manufacturers of Round-Up, have modified and patented "Round-Up" ready soybeans.  As of 2006 90% of the soybeans produced in the US carry that gene.  Monsanto aggressively protects their patent going so far as to prosecute farmer's who's crops have been cross-pollinated by neighboring farms.  The people who were interviewed claim to have been persecuted by Monsanto, these include "seed cleaners" - Seed cleaners allow farmers to clean and store the seed from their fields to be replanted.  The reason is that, according to patent laws, Monsanto owns the seeds since they own the genetically modified gene.  Yikes!  If you're interested in learning more about Monsanto, check out this video:  The World According to Monsanto.  (Here's a link if you'd like to buy The World According to Monsanto.)

The CEO of Stonyfield Farm, Gary Hirshberg, talks about how many of the eco-conscious companies are now owned by mega conglomerates.  Tom's toothpaste is now owned by Colgate.  Stonyfield is now owned by Groupe-Danone (that's Dannon to you and me). He also defends Stonyfield's decision to sell their organic yogurt to Wal Mart by pointing out that the positive pesticide impact can be measured in tons rather than pounds. So while many people decry Wal Mart as the evil empire, Hirshberg points to the environmental impact, and the fact that this allows more people access to organic foods at a lower price.

Although we don't expect this movie to be as successful as Super Size Me," Morgan Spurlock's McDonald's expose, we hope it will get some additional exposure.  This message really needs to get out to the general population.

The movie doesn't touch on veganism at all, which was kind of surprising to me.  I guess they were concerned their movie might be played in one of the 13 states with veggie libel laws.  There is some exposure to CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations).  However, the "natural" farmer's method of slaughtering chickens didn't appear all that humane to me or Jane.

We give the movie two thumbs up.  See it if you have any interest in food.

For Further Information:

And there are plenty of interesting videos on YouTube.

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Comments

  1. I am really looming forward to seeing this movie next month when it comes out up here.

    I have no illusions about its promotion of a vegan ethic, but I think that another huge issue at stake is widening the public’s percpetion of the food industry’s practices, which affects ALL of us, vegan or omnivores, because of companies like Monsanto, Con-Agra and Archer-Daniels-Midland. There may be a few hardcore vegans who are off the grid entirely and are 100% self-sufficient, but I think that the bulk of us go to the store for our food.

    The sooner we can take down the current corrupt system of agribusiness, the sooner more ethical and sustainable agricultural practices can be put into place. It won’t be until that day that the number of vegans grows appreciably.

    This is a great blog, btw. I stumbled upon it today when I was looking at posts about showing compassion and “not being vegan enough.” The nastiness shown by some is puzzling to me. Can’t they see that it only serves to drive away more people?

    I’ve added your link to my own blog.

  2. Hi Babs,
    We’ll be looking for your review after you’ve seen the movie.
    Thanks for your comments. As for peoples nastiness, I think some people need to feel that they are doing something that makes them “better” than everyone else which is why they like to point out how we’re wrong in our take on what it means to be vegan. I’d rather see a 75% vegan than someone who feels it’s an all or nothing alternative and so they go back to eating meat at every meal. That’s where I get hung up. I don’t understand the people who claim to be animal rights advocates and say that a small effort isn’t good enough so you may as well not bother. I live my life believing every little bit helps. Yes, I believe we are perpetration barbarities on our “food animals.” But I also know that it is difficult to get society to think differently, change occurs gradually, and with tolerance.

  3. i turned it off when the farmer was talking about the perils of big business while inhumanely slaughtering chickens. of course the author did not explain what they were doing or that the chickens are not always dead before being dumped into scalding hot water to remove their feathers but i just suppose that’s hypocrisy for you. “big business wants us to destroy sentient beings in a different way and we just dont think that’s right.”
    all in all this film got a thumbs down.
    i am staying vegan and people get what they deserve when they eat like this.

  4. This movie centers around the movement starting with Alice Waters to get orgainc food into restaurants, and the business models and farmers that grew up around it. Problem is her own restaurant still to this day does not serve vegan food and despite a lot of pressure to at least have one or two vegan choices, there is nothing. It’s a display of animal body parts basically at Chez Panisse.

    And of course the fertilizer that they use in organic farming is often cow poo and there is no requirement that they be organic. So you have all the same problems with pesticides and antibiotics getting into the soil and food.

    It is really more self congratulatory than anything.

  5. Hi. Do you know of any vegan manufactured products that are free of Monsanto-genetically-modified crop? I’d like to boycott the company.

  6. I always feel that movies which should be seen because they serve an informational and educational purpose don’t get the exposure they deserve. On the other hand we’re bombarded with ads for the latest romantic comedy which doesn’t help us in leading healthier lives or making better decidions.

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