Food, Inc. – Documentary

October 21, 2010

I just finished watched the documentary Food, Inc., by Robert Kenner. The description reads: “Food, Inc. lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, exposing how our nation’s food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. It reveals surprising and often shocking truths about what we eat, how it’s produced and who we have become as a nation. For most Americans, the ideal meal is fast, cheap, and tasty. Food, Inc. examines the costs of putting value and convenience over nutrition and environmental impact. Director Robert Kenner explores the subject from all angles, talking to authors, advocates, farmers, and CEOs. The filmmaker takes his camera into slaughterhouses and factory farms where chickens grow too fast to walk properly, cows eat feed pumped with toxic chemicals, and illegal immigrants risk life and limb to bring these products to market at an affordable cost.”

Here are a few (disturbing) factoids from the documentary:

  • The way we eat has changed more in the last 50 years, than the previous 10,000.
  • There is a deliberate veil dropped between us and where our food comes from.
  • Cows & pigs don’t grow up on farms, but rather on feedlots or CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations).
  • Tomatoes are grown halfway around the world, picked when they are green, then ripened with ethylene gas.
  • The industrial food system really began with fast food. McDonald’s has changed how beef, pork, chicken, & potatoes are all grown, because they need uniformity. Even if you don’t eat fast food, you’re still eating meat that’s produced by this system.
  • Chickens have been redesigned to grow bigger, faster. Their bones and organs can’t keep up with their growth, so they can only take a few steps at a time. Even sick chickens go to the rendering plant for processing.
  • A high corn diet in cows results in E. coli strains that are acid resistant.
  • Animals stand ankle-deep in manure all day. If one has E. coli, all get it. Animals are caked in manure when slaughtered.
  • Downer cows (those that are too sick or lame to walk), are still sent to slaughter.
  • Hamburger meat today has pieces of 1,000 different cattle ground up in each patty. The odds are very high one of those animals was sick.
  • Beef Products, Inc. (BPI) uses ammonia/chlorine to kill bacteria. They wash their meat filler with it. Their meat is in 70% of hamburgers.
  • Regulatory agencies are controlled by the companies they are supposed to be regulating. Former executives at ConAgra, Monsanto, etc. work for USDA and FDA.
  • Funding for the FDA has been reduced. We rely on factories to be self-policing.
  • Farmers aren’t allowed to save their own seeds anymore. Anyone caught saving seeds can be investigated for patent infringement.
  • The fast food industry fought against giving caloric & transfat info.
  • The meat industry fought against giving the country of origin on labeling.
  • CA tried to introduce SB-63, a consumer right to know measure. It would require cloned food to be labeled as such. The measure passed state legislature, then Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed it.
  • Food companies fought not to label genetically modified food, and now 70% of processed food in the supermarket contains GMOs. Ex) Mayonnaise, Reeses, Campbell’s, Capri Sun, Gatorade, Eggo, Pop Tart, Pringles, Aunt Jemima, Goldfish, & Coke.
  • So much of our food is rearrangements of corn. 90% of foods in the supermarket contain corn or a soybean ingredient. Ex) ketchup, cheese, batteries, meat, peanut butter, & diapers.
  • The food industry has certain protections that others don’t. There is an effort in several farm states to make it illegal to publish photos of any feedlot, or industrial farm.
  • The average meal travels 1,500 miles from farm to supermarket.
  • It takes 75 gallons of oil to take steer to slaughter.
  • We’ve been hardwired to crave salt, fat, & sugar (which are all very rare in nature). This diet gradually wears down the body.

This movie left me highly disturbed. I’m serious. I’m not sure I can eat meat anymore. Not only was the information itself infuriating, the imagery was unsettling. Parts of the documentary are very graphic and hard to watch. That being said, I think it’s exactly the type of movie people need to see. It really does lift the veil between the (factory) farm and your plate. If it doesn’t change the way you eat, it will at least change the way you view what you eat.


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