Food, Inc.

2010-04-26 08:55
Food Inc.

What it's about:

An Oscar-nominated documentary that looks at the corporate-controlled food industry in America and how its true face has been concealed  from the public which it serves.

What we thought:

The food industry is under siege. The fact that it is an industry first, and the fuel tank of the people second, is already cause for alarm. Something that should be sensuous, satisfying and life-sustaining has been malformed into a corrupt trade where profits and power trump the wellbeing of the people. It's an exposé that should alarm anyone who has ever consumed a branded hamburger, cereal, soft drink, fast food meal with little to no thought to how it came to be. That includes just about everyone.

Together with Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser, writer-director Robert Kenner talks to the people on the frontlines of food production, namely the farmers, labourers and engineers who can take something as simple as a kernel of corn and transform it into an astounding array of consumable and household products that permeate our daily lives.

The film shows how images of farmers and kindly grandmothers on the packaging of many foods, as well as reassuring words likes "natural", "family favourite", "farm fresh", have been used as a smokescreen to delude consumers into a tragically false sense of security. In fact, many of the thousands of products on offer at the supermarket are just technologically modified versions of corn, the cheapest, most heavily subsidised product on the market. And the irresponsibility both corporations and government have exercised in feeding a nation has resulted in alarming cases of illness, with regular E. Coli and salmonella outbreaks due to tainted foods that were produced with scant regard for safety standards.

Interviews with a mother who has become a lobbyist for food safety control measures after her two-year-old son died after eating infected meat offers heart-breaking insight into the effect that rampant mass production has had on ordinary lives. The impunity which the major food corporations enjoy is astounding, with legislation barring any criticism of the industry or even publish photographs of what goes on in abattoirs and factories. Each day, the power and responsibility for what people eat are being taken out of the hands of those with the most to lose – you and I.

Food, Inc. does not concern itself too closely with the abuse of animals in the factories and farms, although there are a few disturbing scenes of lame cattle being dragged to the slaughter by tractors. What the documentary aims to do is expose how the production, marketing and consumption of food is bankrolled and manipulated and kept under a dark veil of secrecy by a handful of multinational corporations in the US. This process "from seed to supermarket" has far-reaching effects on the environment and economy, whether in the developed world or not, and has as much to do with fostering a healthy, well-balanced society as the tobacco industry.

While the film uses the American landscape as its thesis, the lessons to be learned for South Africa and other developing nations are imperative. The positive message which Food, Inc. imparts is that ordinary people are not helpless in making the right food choices. If they vote with their feet and their wallets, by choosing to buy local, in season and from organic sources, the industry can be forced to adapt to the needs of the people. There are already encouraging signs that this is happening.

Here is a revelatory, vitally important film that asks the questions many of us do not even consider when buying our food. The answers will startle you.

A revelatory, vitally important documentary that asks the questions many of us do not even consider when buying our food. The answers will startle you.

jka 2010/04/28 11:20 AM
The power lies with consumers -- if we use our money to purchase unethical products, we are endorsing the unethical acts. Eat Local, Organic, Animal-product free and where not possible to eat local, ensure its Fair Trade.
Bemused Reader 2010/04/28 11:40 AM
But this has been done before, it's not all that groundbreaking of a documentary. We all know of the less than glorious methods that goe into the production of the mass produced food we eat. The main problem we should actually consider is, despite the food coprorations being exposed for their dubious ways, will they get any form of punishment or sanction? The answer most probably is no, they are too rich, too powerful and too influetial. But what we also have to consider is without their so called evil methods, will we be able to produce food on the scale that is required to feed the entire worlds population? And once again the answer will sadly and most probably be no..
Dr Steve Brule 2010/04/28 12:14 PM
Who cares, meat is meat and a man must eat. I quitte like being able to go to a supermarket and by anything I feel like instead of going to a green market than a butchery than a confectionery and so on. We live in a world based around convenience and I'm fine with that.
anon 2010/04/28 12:31 PM
The movie had one major issue - the world has 6.5 billion mouths to feed - the only way to achieve these numbers is by treating cattle as food and yes quality will decrease when such quantities need to be produced. I want to know why the real question was not asked and never is, what are we doing about over population? that is the core of the problem, humans need to go on a breeding freeze in order to maintain sustainable levels again. If you keep on breeding the only way to keep up is to genetically and technologically modify the food we it, that is the core problem. I cannot understand why no one ever asks that question?
cr1t 2010/04/28 12:50 PM
I agree that we should try and buy as much of our food from local suppliers and eat only seasonally. But if you think that organic means a couple of hippy farmers think again. The same multi national corp. that sells you GM food runs organic food farms.
jason 2010/04/28 1:06 PM
Most ppl love to eat meat, they don't want to consider the problems. Its like going to Teazers and not thinking about human trafficking.
anon@jason 2010/04/28 1:11 PM
Its more effective to grow non-meat crops to feed humans. The "treating cattle as food" uses valuable land to grow feed for the cattle, who live 4 years before slaughter. Hence 4 years of crops lost. Guess what? You make more profit on meat
Preshen govender 2010/04/29 8:06 AM
  • Rating:
I support PETA ,People eat taste animals
Midnite 2010/04/30 4:03 PM
"Eat Local, Organic, Animal-product free and where not possible to eat local, ensure its Fair Trade." That's a rather typical attitude from someone who has never had to raise a family on a monthly salary of R300. Hungry people don't care whether a cow was slaughtered in a humane fashion, or whether their bread was made locally or at the North Pole. For all the overmoneyed Marie Antoinettes around here, let me explain; the vast majority of people in the world (and in South Africa) simply cannot afford the luxury of high quality (and exceedingly over-priced) foodstuffs.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.