|Index||6 reviews in total|
Food Beware is not about "science" and it isn't about "emotions"; the
film maker provides an enormous amount of information (potentially
"over the heads" of most viewers), even allowing "rebuttal" information
from farmers and others who are completely sold on the corporate model
of "farming" -- though the statistics offered by government and
international agencies directly refute the corporate allegations. Food
Beware is about children, the unavoidable fact that they are
increasingly unhealthy, and the stand taken by one French town to take
control of SOME of the factors that contribute to better health and
well-being of its children AND adults.
The Mayor, who, with his Council, mandated that school lunches would be "organic," appears in many amazing scenes and comes across as both admirable and diplomatic, committed and practical. In one scene he reviews the contents of a school trash bin, and the evidence of parental non-compliance with the organic model. He reads the frightening list of chemical ingredients of one packaged "snack food," reading the names of various poisons without any comment. None is needed.
The fact of the superiority of "organic" foods, in taste, in beauty, in nutrition, and in their benefit to the environment at large, is the real "science" of Food Beware. See the happy children. See them enjoy every "organic" morsel on their plates. What more evidence is necessary?
When it comes to environmental issues, there seems to be two
categories, scientifically based and emotionally based. This one
definitely falls into the second category.
Unfortunately, for a documentary to resonate with me I need facts and statistics, not anecdotes, and this is pretty much all this movie has to offer.
The film takes for granted that pesticides are the cause of child cancers, and places the blame squarely on the individuals, parents and farmers, applying these synthetic pesticides.
As a toxicologist, I am fully of the opinion that a majority of cancers of environmentally induced. But to place this weight solely on individuals is misplaced, even though most evidence demonstrates higher incidences of cancers near golf courses and such (but interestingly, not all golf courses). There are several sources of environmental toxins, mostly industrial, which find their way into our lives.
This movie reduces the cancer connection to pesticide use, when in fact it is a much larger environmental image.
On the other hand, on a positive note, I realize some people do not respond well to facts and reality, but are more compelled to act from an emotional plea (as unsound as it may be). In this, the film certainly presents a strong emotional plea: YOU'RE KILLING YOUR KIDS!
There is an interesting film to be made about this subject, perhaps
even a great one, but this isn't it.
It throws out random facts and assumptions like confetti but fails to connect any of them, and none of them are made to stick.
Do we all eat too much processed food? Sure. Do kids in particular nowadays eat far to much food of dubious nutritional value? Sure. Has there been an increase in incidences of various illnesses, in particular cancer, over recent decades? Sure. Is the French countryside beautiful? Definitely. Are kids cute? Most of the time. Are these facts *connected* in any kind of causal relationship? Unsure. Does this film provide any evidence at all that they are connected? Nope, not even slightly. Is the only answer to all these questions organic farming? Not based on any of the material suggested here.
This film wants to do for conventional modern mass farming what Supersize Me did for fast food. But unlike Morgan Spurlock in that film, Jaud is lacking a central idea, a basic structural model with a clear end, to hold everything together. The fact that the village has already decided to have the communal kitchens go organic is not inherently strong enough.
I would have liked to see - or learn about - an earlier period, the battles the mayor had to go through to convince his town council, parents and others that going organic was a good idea and a worthwhile experiment. Instead we are shown the (limited) effect of the decision on the elementary school children and their new vegetable garden, and the kids learning Yannick Noah's environmental anthem "Aux arbres citoyens" and performing it at the village summer fête complete with rather alarming fist-waving.
We learn nothing of the kids' home lives - in particular, were the benefits of their organic lunch being undone by what they ate at home? At the little survey towards the end of the year covered by the film, it's clear that only a small minority of the kids have organic meals at home. That said, apart from one grumpy looking boy, the children all embrace their new organic school meals with wild enthusiasm - especially one little girl who appears over and again as the project's flag waver. I was left wondering just whose child she is.
One other thing bothers me. The film opens with scenes from a conference held at UNESCO in Paris, clips from whose alarmist presentations punctuate the pictures of village life through the rest of the film. Judging by other reviews I have read here and elsewhere, the audience has always assumed this to be an official UN event, an assumption the film readily invites. It was actually organised by a collection of NGOs led by ARTAC, a French campaigning group devoted to investigating environmental causes of cancers, which was the guiding force behind the Paris Appeal from 2004 calling for the banning of cancer-inducing chemicals. See more at artac.info.
All of this is very worthy, but the film does not actually substantiate any claim that the products used in non-organic farming (and in particular the ones shown in the film) do irrefutably cause cancer, and so the relevance of the conference is somewhat questionable.
The film is also much too long and includes extended sequences of no value whatsoever to the subject, in particular scenes of the kids' idyllic life in the fields. As a half hour item on a TV documentary strand it would have been worthy of my time and attention, but as a feature film? No thanks. I felt my time was wasted.
This wonderful film is giving me some hope again that people will eventually come to their senses and reject the crushing dominance of chemical agriculture. I have lived for several years on an organic dynamic farm in Germany in the 1970's and these were the years of the best food I ever had. You cannot even buy such food in an organic store. Since then my worst fears have come true times 10. Nobody could imagine GMO's back then or the insane amount of new chemicals used in food production and processing. Some critics here said that there is no scientific proof in this film that these chemicals cause the crazy rise in cancer, especially in young people. Well those chemicals might not be the only reason, but combined with Chernobyl, all the nuclear power plants in France and world wide plus all the dangerous chemicals in houses, cleaning products etc. etc. We have to start somewhere - and why not with our food and water? IMO that is a great place to start the change of a better world for future generations.
Food Beware gives an eye-opening account of why pesticides and chemical fertilizers are dangerous to a person's health. Alarming statistics are shared making a person question the foods they are eating. This documentary is much more than educating about the importance of eating organic foods. It shows how one person can impact and influence others. One school, in a small village in France, choosing to serve organic meals influenced the parents who in turn bought more organic food, which increased the shopkeepers businesses. Even though the documentary focuses on agricultural practices in France, I think it is beneficial for anyone to watch. There are many takeaways that can be applied to anyone's life no matter where they live.
This documentary gives useful information on the effects conventional
agriculture can have on our health. Even in this small town in the
French countryside where everything looks so beautiful and where fields
look so healthy at first sight, pesticides and other chemicals are
having an effect on the land and the population.
The documentary is a bit slow and very much focused on this small French town's push to bring organic food to the school's canteen, but it is worth seeing. It's a good addition to the documentaries looking at food and health of the past few years.
Regarding facts vs anecdotes:
The end credits provide a "bibliography" with some sources from academic journals. Seeing that helped me trust the figures quoted during the movie a little more.
|Plot summary||Ratings||External reviews|
|Official site||Main details||Your user reviews|
|Your vote history|