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The current method of raw food production is largely a response to the growth of the fast food industry since the 1950s. The production of food overall has more drastically changed since that time than the several thousand years prior. Controlled primarily by a handful of multinational corporations, the global food production business - with an emphasis on the business - has as its unwritten goals production of large quantities of food at low direct inputs (most often subsidized) resulting in enormous profits, which in turn results in greater control of the global supply of food sources within these few companies. Health and safety (of the food itself, of the animals produced themselves, of the workers on the assembly lines, and of the consumers actually eating the food) are often overlooked by the companies, and are often overlooked by government in an effort to provide cheap food regardless of these negative consequences. Many of the changes are based on advancements in science and ... Written by
stuff to know, whether you like it or not... if you like it, I don't know what to do for you
Food, Inc is essential viewing even though it's not a great movie. Much like An Inconvenient Truth its facts and accumulation of information trumps style or overall craft. This doesn't mean that the director isn't making a bad film or doesn't have some clever visual cues and transitions or know how to combine interviews and archival footage, since he does. But it's the precious interviews he gets, and just leaving the theater knowing that American food (or just stretching worldwide) is run by four corporations and that the farming industry as is advertised as "the American Farmer" is in deep trouble.
It's separated into sections, and each one has something interesting. The one that got to me personally was the section on chickens, how they, like cows as well, are genetically engineered to get bigger a lot faster than they used to, and how the working conditions are at best hazardous and at worst untenable. We see one woman interviewed, the only one who bucked her corporate bosses, to let the cameras in to the state of the chicken coop. Even if one hasn't seen a regular chicken coop before, the state of this place, the stark and dark mis-en-scene, gives us a picture of how it is. As someone like myself who likes a good piece of chicken every now and again, it made me about as guilty as imaginable.
But perhaps that's part of the point of Food, Inc - get us informed to the point where we're scared s***less. The downside may be the reach; while Inconvenient Truth had the boost of a Vice President, the big names in this documentary are authors, one of which wrote Fast Food Nation (and, surprisingly, eats a hamburger on camera, from a diner of course, and speaks about how burger and fries are some of his favorite food to eat despite the horrors of the fast food industry). So it's difficult to say how many people will see this who don't already have some idea about the atrocious conditions in slaughterhouses, the outbreaks of E-Coli that affect countless people including little Kevin as seen in the film, and Monsanto's patent of a soybean seed that they genetically altered. Between that last part alone and a little factoid made about Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, it's no wonder one leaves the theater flabbergasted.
There is some hope the film provides, however. A Virginia farmer, who treats all of his livestock with care and feeds them right (not copious amounts of CORN, which, by the way, is practically coming out of your ears as you read this), gives a few moments to reflect on how the ideal of the American farmer, of what they can give to the community and how they can try and be reasonable with having to do the inevitable of killing living things for food. Hell, the director even has Wal-Mart's one really good moment in the documentary sun in years with its endorsement of organic products. But whatever you're own persuasion on food- be you a hardcore vegan or someone just coming from McDonalds before the movie starts- Food, Inc can make some sort of difference, if only for the information. I know I may not stop eating certain foods, but I'll never forget to give another look or a double take on what's in it- or what may not be there at all. This movie is good, valuable stuff.
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