Friday Afternoon Movie: Food Inc

Just in time to put you off your lunch, the Friday Afternoon arrives with 2009’s Food Inc, the scathing documentary/critique of America’s food industry. Directed by Robert Kenner and co-produced by Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser, Food Inc is of the variety that both infuriates and terrifies in equal measure. It must be pointed out, however, that if you are already up on the subject matter, or have already read Fast Food Nation, there isn’t a whole lot that is new here. Still, for those uninitiated in the horrific practices of companies like Monsanto and Tyson it can be an eye-opening experience.

Recently, it was shown on PBS for their POV segment — it can be viewed on their website until this coming Thursday, should the YouTube version get pulled — and was followed with the delightfully Lynchian Notes on Milk (Click that link to watch. Do it!) a short film looking at the rise of milk in America.

So get to watching, dear readers, and get a better picture of the horrible stuff we put into our bodies everyday. In the meantime I’ll get back to my Big Mac, because nothing tastes quite like Creutzfeldt–Jakob.

Update: Reader rbk points out that PBS is not viewable in America’s hat, Canadia. Therefore, filthy Canucks should go here.

15 Responses to “Friday Afternoon Movie: Food Inc”

  1. prikycola Says:

    Hmm..I have some problems with this film. Well, one problem. It’s rather manipulative, instead of the whole truth you get the truth edited to suit a certain sensationalist approach to the food industry.
    I recommend watching ‘Our Daily Bread’ instead, it achieves the same effect ‘Food Inc’ was aiming for in a much better and poignant way. And best of all, there’s no annoying dialogue.

  2. rbk Says:

    For the Canadian viewers (PBS link doesn’t work here) –

  3. Jerem Morrow Says:

    Saw Salatin (one of the interviewees in the film) speak after a screening at a local college, last year. As much as I dug it, I felt the doc didn’t go far enough. It only barely hints at the problems we face per our ignorance of the food industry. And Salatin, whilst I found him and his talk agreeable by and large, spent 10 minutes raging against the tattooed and pierced as part of the detached-from-food-reality problem. No, I’m not kidding (I did make it a point to speak with him afterwards, showing my tats and politely nudging him to see “we” care too). BUT, that aside, it’s still an important work, well worth watching. I only wish it had more teeth. And the man was not quite so short-sighted.

  4. what's in a name anyways? Says:

    I resent you calling Canadia a hat. I prefer to think of it as a wig or hockey helmet…. maybe both.

  5. Nadya Says:

    I really loved “Notes on Milk.” Thanks for sharing! Didn’t know about the whole Milk Fund/Watergate thing. I thought it was interesting that the woman in the documentary described the milking as a “religious experience.” I also really liked the shot of the cows in the snowy woods, and the adorable sequence of the calves running around at the end.

    I saw Food, Inc in the theater, and sadly it had no effect on me that day. I was eating pork rinds two hours later. Since watching the film, I’ve cut down on meat, because sometimes when I eat meat, it makes me think back to specific moments in the film (like the workers kicking the chickens) that make me sad. I don’t like the idea of putting something that suffered so much into my body. I can’t give up eating meat, so my compromise is trying to get free-range stuff from local farms whenever I can.

    I really loved Food, Inc’s opening title sequence. Amazing. The most interesting fact that I took away from Food, Inc was that when we eat processed meat (like chicken tenders at a fast food store), it’s not just meat from one animal. It’s combined meat from hundreds of different chickens from all different locations. That kind of blew my mind. The other fact that really struck me was the fact that obesity correlates with class, and that poor people actually have a higher chance of being obese because fattening food is less expensive.

    The meat production industry creeps me out on many levels. There are a lot of health concerns, and stories like Kevin Kowalcyk’s break my heart. However, I have no issue with genetically-modified crops. There was a section about it in the Penn and Teller’s Bullshit episode dealing with the food industry that I really loved. (There have also been some episodes of that show that I really, really hated.) Here it is:

  6. Infamous Amos Says:

    “America”: Canada’s stepladder to Greenland

  7. rickie Says:

    that was the longest 10 minutes ever. i like that it is informative, but not as propaganda-like as peta’s ‘meet your meat’. it still made me want to go vegetarian for about a week.

  8. rickie Says:

    nadya- love that p&t video! that closing dialogue is genius. it’s exactly what i want to tell the militant vegans i know…

  9. Ross Rosenberg Says:

    Nadya – I suppose my problem is not really with genetically modified food itself. The problem, and in fact most of the stuff that outrages me about the food industry, is the legislation that heavily favors a group with very deep lobbying pockets. The gene patent is the real absurdity here. GM plants are great but when allowed to cross-pollinate with other plants it effectively puts them all under ownership of Monsanto and others and the burden of proof is somehow the responsibility of the farmer. That’s bullshit. And while that may not matter to libertarian douchebags like Penn Gillette maybe it matters to the people who have to spend thousands of dollars trying to fight ridiculous lawsuits.

    Really, I just hate Penn and Teller. Fighting bullshit with bullshit doesn’t make you right and being a sanctimonious prick doesn’t make you a bearer of truth.

  10. nadmai Says:

    I have to agree on that final sentiment Ross, I found P&T Bullshit amounted to “you’re wrong, because we say so”. Food shortages have multiple factors for example price of food on the global market – driven by energy demand / cost (all that acreage now devoted to bio-fuel perhaps) and political instability and civil wars driven by weapons supplied by the G8.

    A lot of genetic engineering is to make plants more tolerant to pesticides and herbicides, which means farmers can use them more aggressively. These chemicals destabilize eco-systems and aggregate in water supplies. These chemicals are not safe, but rather have safe limits. There’s also a whole other line of discussion on nutritional value of food produced through intensive farming. I don’t know if organic farming could be made to work on a large scale, probably not, but I imagine there’s not much money in that line of research for agri-business.

    I don’t know the issues well enough to be able to give a particularly informed view, I would just end with the words of Ben Goldacre, applicable to most situations: “I think you’ll find it’s a bit more complicated than that.”

  11. hng23 Says:

    Canadia? How poetic! We who live here call it ‘Canada’. Just sayin’.

  12. Nadya Says:

    I’M IN CANADISTAN RIGHT NOW! Seriously, guys. Posting from my hotel room in Toronto. It’s true, I can’t see the video on the PBS site anymore.

    I know what you mean about P&T Bullshit perpetuating more bullshit itself. I don’t like it when the show gets that preachy libertarian tone – the clip I posted doesn’t come close to how bad it can get. And I agree with you about the problem of food legislation favoring big-business lobbying – whether it has to do with the terrifying meat industry, or the much more benign issue of crops, though they all tie in together at the end. It’s a shame that, as nadmai points out, research on large-scale organic farming probably does not receive as much funding as GM research at this time. I guess I just feel like, of all the things to fight against, genetically engineered crops would not be high on my list. I feel so lucky to have the option to purchase organic food. I understand that this is not an option for most of the world’s population. So if someone comes up with a high-yield, disease-resistant crop, I’m all for it. It comes back to this quote from Borlaug: “some of the environmental lobbyists of the Western nations are the salt of the earth, but many of them are elitists. They’ve never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for fifty years, they’d be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists back home were trying to deny them these things.” It is definitely “more complicated than that,” but I’m going to trust someone who’s spent their entire life devoted to this problem. I’m going to trust that the solution we have is the best that there is right now, even though there are drawbacks (like the issues nadmai mentioned), and hope that a new generation of scientists works to make the process even more sustainable.

  13. what's in a name anyways? Says:

    Interesting Pen and Teller video…. everything has it’s positives and negatives including technology. People naturally fear new technology. Remember being told not stand to close to the microwave. I’m not saying all new technology is safe but if people are scared of holding cell phones to thier head then modified food will obviously be demonized. On a lesser note as a Canadian I am cordially inviting you to make fun of my country. What’s in a name anyways? It doesn’t matter where we come from.

  14. Mwezzi Says:

    Unfortunately, living in the UK, it looks like Notes on Milk is strictly for those on the eastern side of the Atlantic.

  15. Shannon Says:

    Nadya – I had the same reaction to Food Inc. I never really ate a lot of meat, but now more than ever, I consider the source when I do. Also, in our consumer culture, buying ethically raised meat has more of an impact on the treatment of farm animals than not buying meat at all.