Sunday, July 12, 2009

Food Inc

If you haven't read some of the latest books on the food industry (e.g. The Omnivore's Dilemma, 100 Mile Diet, or Fast Food Nation), then I recommend checking out the new documentary, Food Inc. It is very good.

I could write a lot on it but I suspect that most readers will eventually see it, or already get the idea.

The gist is a close look at Big Agriculture in the US. It is pretty scary.
  • e.g. 4 meat processing companies handle 80% of the beef in the US.
  • Chickens and other livestock are often raised in conditions that are neither fit for the livestock nor the workers.
  • Runoff from fertilizer and especially manure causes unbelievable damage.
  • St Louis' own Monsanto has a patent on a soy seed and protects its patent viciously: they have engaged farmers in legal battles and have won through sheer attrition. One farmer says that "justice is indeed blindfolded, and the side that puts the most money on the scales tends to win".
In fact, that was the best part of the movie: the farmers. One chicken farmer (a woman in KY) and an organic farmer (not sure where) really steal the show. They are principled, articulate, and, in the case of the organic operation, dedicated to old-fashioned values of quality product.

In one scene, on the organic farm, a chicken is killed. There is no ritual. There is no mystique. But there is a sense of respect -- an ingredient that is far removed from the giant agri-factories.

No comments: