Sunday, December 13, 2009

Food, Inc.

Food, Inc is a documentary film about the business of big agriculture in the United States. Down the winding road of the film you will begin to understand how a few large corporations have come to dominate food production in the United States all while implementing unsanitary and, depending on your viewpoint, immoral production practices.

In many scenes, we are shown the poor and often bizarre conditions in which animals are reared.  In one scene we watch chickens continuously waddling along for a few steps and then falling due to their purposely unnatural size.  There are also slaughterhouse scenes featuring chickens and cows which are mildly gruesome.  Thankfully the director decided to not skew too graphic in these scenes and so we feel most people will not have a problem making it through the movie.

The filmmakers argue that the unsanitary conditions in which animals are held and slaughtered has lead to outbreaks of E. Coli and Salmonella.  In one powerful segment of the film you meet Barbara Kowalcyk, a woman who lost her two year old son due to E. Coli poisoning.  This segment is sad but it is not done over the top like something found in your typical Michael Moore film.

A good portion of the film is spent discussing the company Monsanto.  In the last decade, Monsanto has come to dominate the seed industry with its genetically modified seeds.  Farmers who buy seeds from Monsanto are not legally allowed to plant seeds from the crops grown using Monsanto genetically modified seeds.  Based on this, a farmer who is not using genetically modified crops can have his crops infected by the genetically modified seeds spread from neighboring farms.  If this farmer tries to save his seeds, Monsanto can come after that farmer legally.  Monsanto uses its army of lawyers to harass small farmers and drive them out of business due to ever escalating legal bills.

Those that are well versed with how the financial industry has come to dominate Washington DC will be amazed at the striking levels that big agriculture  has also come to dominate DC in the same manner.  We now have a "self policing of industry" and a "revolving door between industry and regulation."  Also related to the financial industry, we are told of chicken farmers who are strapped with enormous debts from the costs of launching their businesses and keeping their facilities to code that they can never hope to repay them.   This should all sound familiar.

We give Food, Inc 3 stars out of 4.  You can pick up a copy from (whom we are no longer boycotting).  It is also currently available on demand through many cable and satellite services.
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