How many times do we have to see horror stories about how our food, the food we eat, the food that goes into our bodies is handled, before we stand up and do something about it? Apparently, many because we still haven't done anything.
"Food, Inc.", directed by Robert Kenner, and co-produced by Eric Schlosser (writer of "Fast Food Nation") and Michael Pollan (writer of "The Omnivore's Dilemma), takes an in depth view at a handful of various problems with the food industry in our country. Presented in "Chapters", Schlosser or Pollan introduce the various segments leading into a series of graphics, interviews, archival and hidden camera footage and more all of which illustrates the problems we are facing.
Did you know that Chickens have been engineered to grow faster and larger, in order to produce more breast meat? The companies who provide us with chicken realized a while back that we prefer white meat. When a customer prefers something, it is more efficient to grow what the customer wants. White meat is also more expensive, so it is a win-win situation for these companies to fulfill our needs and wants. But what about the dark meat? The result? Engineered chickens ready for slaughter faster and yielding more white meat. But it also results in chickens with no flavor that are grown in very inhumane conditions. Most never see sunlight and can't walk for very long because their internal organs can't keep up with the growth of their bodies.
For many years, corn farmers have lobbied lawmakers for protection and subsidies, and this has created an overwhelming abundance of corn. Because there is so much of the grain, scientists have worked out many ways to use the abundant staple, to prevent wasting it, and to maximize profits. One of these, high fructose corn syrup, is now in a majority of the items we consume. But they also decided to start feeding the corn to cattle animals that are supposed to eat grass. There is a by-product of this new practice; e-coli bacteria. When the cattle eat this feed, they have a higher chance of creating the bacteria. And the fact they are contained in small lots, with barely enough room to move around, standing knee deep in their own feces for hours every day, doesn't help the situation.
Why do we raise the majority of the cattle in this country in such a fashion? Because the fast food industry (McDonalds purchases the most ground beef in the world) wants cheap beef. If they can feed the cattle more cheaply, those savings are passed on to the large chains and are then passed on to the consumer through "Dollar" and "Value" menus.
These are just two of the stories the film follows in detail. Providing a lot of information, the filmmakers connect the dots to illustrate why our food production system is in need of some drastic changes.
If we don't change it, we are going to continue to get sick, some of us will continue to die. And it is all preventable.
Why do we allow it to continue? A handful of very large companies control all of the production of our processed foods. They lobby Congress and the Senate, getting the lawmakers to protect them. They don't have to do anything about it. When there is an outbreak, they make some minor changes, but as we saw from the E-Coli outbreak in hamburger, it happened a few times and will no doubt happen again.
People are getting the message. Organic foods, farmer's markets and grocery chains like Whole Foods are becoming more and more prevalent popping up to meet the needs of a growing, more selective clientele.
Are you getting the message?
Or do you still want that hamburger that only costs $1?