Ever wondered where your food came from? Well if you are ready to face some ugly truths you need look no further than Robert Kenner’s Oscar nominated 2008 documentary Food, Inc. which takes an unflattering look at the corporate food industry in America. With population explosions worldwide and ever growing demand for convenient food, gone are the days of buying local produce from a farmer because that is way too time consuming for most. Since McDonald’s first opened its doors in the 1950s the world has been a slave to having everything they want now using as little effort as possible. This has lead to two things – unrealistic expectations and massive health issues.
One might think that Food, Inc. would dine out on whatever scandalous practices it could find in the food industry using secretly filmed abattoir footage or whistle blowing employees but it is more sophisticated than that. Sure, that stuff is in there, but so are plenty of astute observations from the people that are directly affected by the world’s ‘must have’ attitude – the bottom line producers. Time and again they are the ones suffering due to there being a small oligopoly in many areas of the food industry meaning that the food processors hold all of the cards and can dictate to the producers what they will be paid and how they will do things, right down to what genetically modified seed they must sow to keep their business afloat.
Alongside the food industry supply chain scrutiny Food, Inc. explores how the general health of the US population has declined in the last 50 years and the level of food related illnesses that are caused by the processing that occurs. Whilst the percentage of tainted food that gets into the general population is low, the statistics make for sober reading with an average of 5,000 deaths in the US each year from contamination such as E-Coli. With FDA food inspections showing a huge decrease in the last 40 years and some very questionable ex-food industry board members in this ‘independent’ organisation, it is easy to see how money talks and the collateral damage – you and I – appear meaningless to large corporations.
Despite how it sounds Food, Inc. is not all doom and gloom. It is as educational as it is shocking and shows how our attitudes drive the problem and how ultimately we could probably fix it if we made some changes. Whether we will remains a doubt given that a new McDonald’s or Burger King is never far from opening but perhaps if they showed this in schools and educated children better, eventually things would change.
Thought provoking and, alongside more pointed documentaries like Super Size Me and Fast Food Nation, Food, Inc. makes a compelling argument for putting down the burger and the processed goods and visiting your local farmer for some healthy, safe alternatives.