Tuesday, August 03, 2010
We finally watched "Food, Inc." I've read way too many of the sources to find it surprising -- especially Michael Pollan's books and articles. Despite my familiarity with many of the details, I found many really good issues discussed in it. Impressive: seeing moving pictures of feedlots, CAFOs, slaughterhouses, chicken houses for hundreds of thousands of chickens, and farmers ruined by Monsanto.
I don't like extremists or fanatics, so I would have liked to see a broader range of organic farmers and innovators against mass production. I am suspicious of the claim that Joel Salatin's methods can scale upwards. And I'm ultra-skeptical about the interview with the CEO of Stonybrook Farms (now part of a big agriculture corp) and his pride in the mass-market organic yogurt sold at WalMart. But I have a distrust of hippies who got rich on their hipness, which might be misplaced.
In general, I wish the authors had a vision for how to feed all the people on earth without some of the mass market methods. This is an issue that's frequently avoided. Yes, we put Mexican corn farmers out of business with cheap corn and NAFTA. And it was bad for their economy. What next?
I think my shopping habits already conform to the authors' goals (and yes, I know not everyone can afford to shop the way they suggest). But I think the points about the food industry, lack of regulation, persecution of farmers (such as those who re-use seeds and are pursued by Monsanto), and the corruption of the regulatory process are all very important.
Lenny says the "veggie libel" laws are the worst offense revealed in the film. That term refers to laws that prevent people from criticizing foods, food manufacturers, or growing processes; a set of related laws also prevent people from suing food industries when they are harmed. Oprah's successful defense against being sued for libel against hamburgers around 15 years ago is the best-known example.
On the whole: good film.