Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Food Inc.: the unbearable lightness of the food industry

Don't care if anyone ever says again there's no difference between organic and not; free range or not. I get that much of what gets labelled as free range is specious in the UK for instance, but we all really do need a cold reality check about food production in the West.

Food Inc delivers that view without taking us right to the sharp end of the air gun as did Fast Food Nation. With some basic knowledge about the production of animals, the way the FDA and USDA has been allowed to go toothless, the fact that at least in Europe GMO crops are actually labelled as such becomes something to hang onto and hold dear. The EU may have value after all.

If you haven't seen Food Inc., it's on DVD; now's the time. It's interesting without being bombastic. If you like Michael Pollen of the Omnivore's Dilema you get a lot of him, too. And again, with just basic info that's pretty compelling. Walmart though in the film turns out not to be the big(gest) villain. Nope, it's the laws of states that prohibit anyone publishing a photo of a food production lot at a plant where animals are kept. It's the change of seed practices in the states so that the One Big Seed Company with its GMO corn ensures that farmers can't harvest their own seeds for regrowing. That's patent infringement.

You think you're not eating GMO products? Think again: Arnie vetoed a bill that had been passed in the Cal. Legislature to have GMO/cloned products labelled as such. All the corn based products like Coke, chips, most stuff with soy product or corn bi-products is GMO corn.
13 companies pack 90% of all the meat in america. I could just go on and on.

Ok one more thing: the special relationship meat packing houses have with law enforcement about shipping in illegals to work in the plants and then busting the immigrants, not the companies, when there's a hint of a Union about to emerge. What synergies.

But the most powerful take away is that consumers do affect the system: the meat industry changed because of fast food. Fast food wouldn't have that power if people didn't buy it. Walmart has had to get rid of growth hormoned milk because of consumer demand. Amazing.

So let's ask our stores about the provenance of our food and opt out of the crap. Food Inc gives some pretty compelling rationales of why that's not just Right it's critical. Monocultures eventually crash and take a lot down with them.


Bryce said...

The most valuable thing I took from this movie was that we, as a civilization (the west?) are so completely disconnected from where our food comes from, it's no wonder our health is dismal.

Imagine if you had to physically care for the animals you ate. Every day. Look them in the eye, pull the pebbles from between their toes, sheer their coats, etc. Imagine how humbling of an experience it would be to know, in a very real sense, who was dying for you to live. I think we could all use a dose of that now a days.

Lierre Keith expounds on this idea masterfully in her book, Vegetarian Myth, which I'm currently enjoying.

Great blog btw. I'll be sure to stop by more often.


dr. m.c. said...

thanks for stopping by. great observations and thanks for the pointer.



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