Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dept. of Things You Need (But May Not Want) to Know: The Food Chain

Via Alternet:
Food Inc: Michael Pollan and Friends
Reveal the Food Industry's Darkest Secrets

By Tara Lohan, AlterNet. Posted June 25, 2009.

The new film Food Inc. is a shocking look at the health, human rights and the environmental nightmare that lands on our plate each meal.

It turns out that figuring out the most simple thing -- like what's on your dinner plate, and where it came from -- is actually a pretty subversive act.

That's what director Robert Kenner found out while spending six years putting together the amazing new documentary, Food Inc., which features prominent food writers Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma) and Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation).

Warning: Food Inc. is not for the faint of heart. While its focus is not on the gory images of slaughterhouse floors and filthy feedlots, what it does show about the journey of our food from "farm" to plate is not pretty.

The story's main narrative chronicles the consolidation of our vast food industry into the hands of a few powerful corporations that have worked to limit the public's understanding of where its food comes from, what's in it and how safe it may be.

But it's also a larger story about the people that have gotten in the way of the stampeding corporate herd -- like farmer Joel Salatin (also profiled in Pollan's Omnivore’s Dilemma), who has bravely bucked the trend to go corporate.

There's also Barbara Kowalcyk, who becomes a tireless food-safety advocate after her 2 1/2-year-old son Kevin died from eating an E. coli-tainted hamburger. And there is the economically strapped Orozco family, which is faced with the difficult decision of whether to save money by buying cheap processed food and spend more later on medical bills, or spring for the more expensive, but healthier food options that stretch its immediate income.

There are also the farmers who appear with their faces blacked out on screen for fear of Monsanto, or the communities ravaged by Type 2 diabetes, or the undocumented workers at processing plants who are recruited from their NAFTA-screwed homelands, illegally brought over the border to work dangerous jobs for peanuts, only to be humiliatingly sacrificed in immigration raids that only criminalize workers and never the employers.
Lohan follows with an incisive interview with film-maker Kenner.

High points:
we are spending less of our paycheck on food today than probably at any point in the history of the world -- and at the same time, this inexpensive food is coming to us at a high cost that you don't see at the checkout counter...

I went to a hearing on whether we should label cloned meats. When the lady who represented the industry spoke and said, "I really think it is not in the consumer's interest to be given this information because it's too confusing," I got goosebumps and thought, "this is scary."...

Barb Kowalcyk...can't tell me what she eats because of the veggie libel laws...You know, if you talk, and you're involved in this world of food production, you do so at great peril. And you pay the price. It is amazing how vulnerable you can be if you step forward and enter this conversation...

One thing we say in the film is that we are not opposed to people going from industry to government, that is OK. The problem is when they go from industry to government, rule on things they are involved in in industry and then go back to industry with great bonuses. That seems a conflict of interest...

(Like the previous tobacco debates) they are huge, powerful, rich corporations thoroughly connected to government issuing misleading statements about their products, saying they are not unhealthy...

I don't think you can solve health care without changing the food system, when 1 out of 3 Americans born after the year 2000 is going to get early-onset diabetes; it is going to bankrupt the health care system. And I think there is a direct connection between food and health...

I think these issues are coming to the surface and are becoming more important, there has just been some movement on food safety where the FDA will have the power to recall food (which they do not have now), such as Nestle's cookie dough, which has E. coli in it...
E coli in cookie dough? What the fuck!@! There's considerably more, and it will ALL make you quite uncomfortable. At this writing, Food, Inc. is not scheduled to show in Albuquerque or anywhere else in NM.

1 comment:

A World Quite Mad said...

Just today, I read about another recall, this time beef has e-coli in it. Lovely.

That's why I get my red meat from the deer on either my property, or my family's property. I know where it comes from, and I know the deer haven't been fed a bunch of crap with anti-biotics and other stuff in it.

But tainted food is only the tip of the iceberg. Because they purposely taint our food with other junk too, like High Fructose Corn Syrup and Hydrogenated Oil (and all the other names it has), and it's in EVERYTHING. And the government is powerless to stop them. Because like the pharmaceutical and health insurance companies, the food industry has our government in their back pocket too.

I swear, we should all try to buy local, but they don't make it easy do they? And not everyone has access to land to go hunting for their own food, nor the knowledge of how to do it. What was that about serfdom? When you have an unhealthy population who are all overweight and sickly, you don't have to worry about them revolting do you?