I wasn't intending to post on this.  Robert Kenner's documentary Food Inc. has been widely and well reviewed (NYTimes review here).  And frankly, there's almost nothing in this movie that I, like most people who follow these issues, haven't known for years. (For a contrarian view, here's this slightly wordy but helpfully skeptical response from a blogger, Grumpy Glutton.)

But there was one thing I did not expect and am writing now to try to understand it.  As the plaintive voice of Bruce Springsteen sounded and the credits rolled, I wept.  Not just misty-eyed.  Rolling tears and a wet face.  Why on earth? What could account for this emotional response to information I already knew?

I repeat, there is virtually nothing here that I didn't know, save for the extent that veggie libel laws are now working against the consumer (you and me).  So what happened?

First, the film is beautifully photographed, a real professional job.  The two main tour guides, Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser are filmed and recorded with appealing clarity; and they've been touting these ideas so regularly that they've got their words down pat, words I was more than happy to listen to again.

There is the emotionally wrenching story of the mom who lost her 2-year-old Kevin to E. coli (healthy happy thriving boy one day, dead 12 days later) presumably from a tainted fast food burger.  She continues to fight to give the USDA more power to halt unsafe food production.  Today the NYTimes advocates for the House to pass a bill this week giving more such power to the FDA.

What got me was her final plea: All I wanted, she says, was for the company to say "We're sorry, and here's what we're going to do to make sure it never happens anyone else."  No dice.  That wasn't coming.  Her name is Barbara Kowalcyk.  Her boy would have been ten now, the same age as the boy watching the movie beside me, my son James.  I can't imagine.

This part scared him.  "Dad, will you be OK if they catch it early enough?" he whispered.  We'd have a lot to talk about on the way home.

Indeed his response will mirror that of most other people who see this movie. Upon leaving the theater, James said,  "That was a really good movie, Dad. (pause)  Kind of makes you want to be a vegetarian. (pause) Kind of makes you not want to eat."

Kind of makes you not want to eat.  How sad is that?  And it's not just the gruesome footage of the kill floor of a beef packer or the disgusting way we raise chickens, it's the increasingly clear dangers of our demanding ever-cheaper food, it's the appalling greed and ruthlessness of Monsanto, aggressively bankrupting the people growing our food.

What are we doing, what are we thinking?  We need to wake up. One of the last great affordable luxuries available to us, and we are throwing it away by not caring, by demanding to pay less and less for it.  Food, this gift that nourishes our body and soul, that brings us together in celebration and in grief, we are putting it in the hands of people who don't give a shit about anything except profit. I cried for my son and his future.  And I cried too for the great souls who do know the way, such as the farmer Joel Salatin, who simply wants to produce the best food possible and make it available to as many people as possible without diminishing its quality.

If you haven't read these books, they're well worth your time. Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma and Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation, both delightful reads.  There's also the more recent The End of Food, by Paul Roberts, who's done a heroic job of reporting, but the world he reports on is so vast his book bogs down in statistics and facts; nevertheless, if you're serious about understanding this world, it's worth the heavy lifting.

Food Inc. makes two points very well that are worth repeating and then I'll shut up.  One: wherever and
whenever, try to know or find out the source of your food.  And two:
every time you buy food, it's a vote for more of that food; if it's excellent, you're asking for more; if it's
shitty food, you're asking for more.

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74 Wonderful responses to “Strongly Recommend: Food, Inc.”

  • Scott B

    Unfortunately, Michael, you nailed it: “They only care about profit.” These huge multinational corporations, like every public company, are required by law to maximize shareholder profit. If they don’t, they will be sued. I recommend a new type of corporation I just heard about here in North Carolina, the “B” Corporation. They advocate a “triple bottom line”: People, Planet, Profits. If you might gain a penny a share on your quarterly earnings with a new production method, but abuse worker conditions and spread poisonous fertilizer in your watershed in the process, you won’t do it.
    What we need is a new way to measure the success of American companies besides pure profit. I have read all your books, and Eric Schlosser’s wonderful Fast Food Nation, and I believe this is the only way we will save our food supply and our planet.

  • Ashlee Sackett

    Michael,

    I read Food Inc. the book while I was in High School ( about 6 years ago), since then Food Systems have always been an interest of mine. I’ve read Pollan, Nestle, am in the middle of Roberts’ at the moment. I too thought that I knew a lot of the information in the movie, and I thought that when you mentioned that the movie moved you to tears that it might be a little extreme. That is until last night I too was also moved to tears at this movie. It is completely striking how farmers and their rights are compromised because they simply cannot afford to stand up for themselves. That and the way that immigrant workers are treated simply breaks my heart. I am glad that this movie has been created, I feel like I’ve been waiting for it forever.

  • cybercita

    i just saw it this evening and also started to tear up when the farmer told the camera that if people demanded clean, wholesome food, the farmers would find a way to grow it for them.

    i’d already stopped eating meat, poultry, farmed fish, and most processed food after reading one too many articles about the underside of the food industry. i also stopped eating in most restaurants. i buy what i can at the greenmarket, eat low on the food chain, and pack my own food most of the time. hard but necessary. the upshot of being so rigorous about my food {and staying mostly vegan/whole grain during the day} is that i have the energy and complexion of someone much younger.

  • Kent

    Regarding books about making wise eating choices, why isn’t Peter Singer’s “The Ethics of What We Eat” mentioned more often?

  • Forrest C

    It finally came to our independent film theater here in Columbia this week. I think it’s a great film and did well cycling between things that are bad and areas that are bright spots.

    I think the biggest point was what the guy from Stonyfield Farms had to say. It will be interesting to see how dealing with Wal-mart changes his company over the next few years. But the important part for me was that he reminded us that we vote everyday based on where we spend our money and what we spend it on. While there are many areas of the country that don’t have that choice, there are plenty that do have those choices. That’s why it is important for more people to learn this message. As more money is spent on better foods, those choices will hopefully spread. The dollar is king, but we control the dollar in our pocket.

  • Michael Gebert

    I have a 10-year old son too, and when I read this he happened to be in the midst of showing and auctioning his 4-H lamb at the Lake County (IL) Fair. I asked him what he had to say about the process of raising his own food; here’s my video interview with him: http://vimeo.com/5914768

  • Tracey

    I enjoyed this movie very much. Though the issues were familiar to me, it does help you “wake up!” as you said.

    Reform is necessary on two levels – political (better regulation) and personal (making better food decisions, for those who can afford to).

  • allen

    Penn and Teller just did an episode of their Showtime B.S. on organic food, I try to buy at the local farmers markets but the Whole Foods market (Whole Paycheck market) mentality is a scam and they did a good job of pointing that out. All of the labeling and marketing for something less healthy with 30-50 percent more cost that is less eficient in feeding more people and doesn’t provide any more nutrition.

  • Sally

    I came away from this thinking that everyone who eats needs to see this. Also, it makes the question Pollan asked in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, “What should we have for dinner?” much more difficult to answer for millions of people.

  • Tags

    My daughter’s music teacher told her what her music teacher told HER when she was a kid taking lessons.

    “Don’t cry, get mad!”

    And don’t wait for the government to do anything for you – make them do it.

  • Country Squire

    Michael,

    Thank you for providing such an informative blog and adorning it with Donna’s excellent photography.

    As you mention in your post, many of us are already familiar with the works of Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser. We are also becoming more and more aware of what we eat and where it comes from. As consumers we have the ability to cast our financial vote which will eventually cause the markets to shift. However, as has also been pointed out in this thread – just how many people are willing and/or able to pay for locally raised, sustainable food? Case in point – please recall what happened in Mexico when we decided ethanol was a “green” fuel alternative and withdrew a portion of the corn harvest to make it. People rioted in the streets when the cost of corn meal increased by 50%.

    The farm subsidy programs in this country need to be rethought along with a tax system that has brought about the destruction of the family farm. Farming is a tough business and as a wag once put it “the only business that buys retail and sells wholesale”.

    But if you want to make an immediate impact on the quality of the food you provide for your family I would not suggest that you wait for the government to do it for you. My wife and I bucked the demographic trend and moved from an urban environment (where we had lived for nearly 50 years) to a rural setting. We have a substantial garden and we can, dry or freeze what we don’t eat fresh. We have chickens and all of the fresh eggs we need. We also eat a fair amount of venison and elk – free range, grass fed, hormone free. I don’t need to ask about the provenance of much of our food.

    Does all of this require a great deal of work? Yes. Do we think it is worth the effort? Yes. Can everyone be involved in producing their own food? Absolutely. DIY.

  • allen

    This film is not in my neighborhood, I will seek it out when it’s available. But I have seen the excellent documentary from HBO “Death On A Factory Farm” that is probably more pursuasive on making vegetarians. It was filmed around Clevland pig farmers, I was appalled at what I saw but I am not going to give up pork. The farmers are not raising pets, they are a means of making money. The animals that the ex worker saved from the farm at the end of the film are much happier, but I don’t think I could slaughter my own pets. The result of distancing ouselves from slaughtering the animals is the factory farm shrink wrapped food at the store, it is safe and regulated, less risk of trichenosis and other nastiness, but the other side is what is shown in that horrific documentary on HBO, also a must see. The first half is not for kids or the squeemish, the last half is all court room material.

  • stephen

    Don’t cry. We’re not powerless. Make an effort to find and build relationships with your local organic farmers. All over the nation small family farmers are treating meat animals ethically, raising vegetables and grain without pesticides and rotating crops to preserve the fertility of the soil. Yes, their products are more expensive, but it’s worth the difference because it means you’re not supporting industrial food. This matters!

    You CAN opt out of a disgusting and corrupt system and you can do it today.

  • Gabrielle

    LOVE your son’s astute assessment of the film. Could not have said it better. I’m a vegan who lived as an omnivore for 45 years before changing my ways, and I can’t imagine going back now, though thre are certain animal “products” I will always miss. Sitting and watching “Food Inc” just reinforced my new (one year now) lifestyle/diet, but even I left the theatre never wanting to eat again. Nevertheless, I went home and ate some vegan pepper steak (yes, there is such a thing, made from non-GMO soy as well!) and mixed organic vegetables, and felt pretty good about things.

    I am so glad you took your son to see it, and that you decided you would in fact post about it. Thanks for this.

  • Andrew

    This has nothing to do with “Food, Inc.,” but I just have to share: I made shrimp toast using the Ratio mousseline recipe posted a few days ago, and it was absolutely *awesome*. And — aside from deveining 18 or so shrimp (yes, I doubled the recipe) — it was so easy I’ll rethink the next time I’m jonesing for takeout Chinese.

  • Nancy

    I too went into the movie knowing that I knew most of what would be presented but came out overwhelmed by seeing it all in context. I had the same feelings going into and coming out of seeing the documentary “The Smartest Guys in the Room” (about Enron). It’s powerful to see all the information tied together in such a thoughtful way.

    I go back to something I read in one of Marion Nestle’s books: that, in the U.S., we produce food 2.5 times the amount of calories that every person needs EVERY SINGLE DAY. The majority of that food is fast food or highly processed heat-and-eat.

    Another thing that sticks with me is the farmer (I don’t remember his name) who commented that quite often when people tell him that his prices are too high for free range chicken eggs at the farmer’s market, they are often carrying a high-priced latte that costs more than a dozen of his eggs.

  • Raederle Phoenix

    You might be interested in my health site, and may very well learn some things you didn’t know already. Perhaps if you like it enough, you’d link it?

    I agree that it’s hard not to preach to the quire. I do it all the time unfortunately. I hope to become a nutritionist so I can get paid for my long and detailed lectures.

  • Tom

    My wife and I saw the movie and I plan to take our 10 yr old to see it too. We went to the movie and then planned to go to dinner – but weren’t very hungry after and just sat and talked. It’s true that there isn’t a lot of new information if you’ve read the books but it was very well done and a great experience. I’m glad you brought it up – the topic needs more exposure, not less.

  • luis

    Michael, great content. You are tha man!. Which is why I read your blog bro.
    But fundamentally this is biblical… the “Cast the nets thang….”.
    I imagine a world similar to an experiment (I didn’t know it at the time I was messing with mother nature…dumb as a box of rocks is me) I conducted in my place out in California. InsaneDiego it was… Looong story short.. I grew a tree, hung a bird feeder and a watering bowl. first there were oncy twocy’s…then threece’s…and then and then and then I was feeding hundreds of hungry birds… then the predators came and other creatures came all the way from the Rose Cannyon… and I understood the issue of artificially feeding and sustaining populations.
    They grow/grew EXPONENTIALLY Michael. This is like Ratio to nth power…..bro.
    The thing got so out of control that I felt I comitted a serios “Main Directive” violation.
    So I apologized to the creatures cleaned up the mess and put the place up for sale. In a killer market I made a killing but….I came away with the thought that perhaps I had done something very wrong?? The thought haunts me to this very day. Should we have factories that mass produce food and feed the masses or…Limit our populations to what the land provides?
    That is the question my friend…. that is the million dollar question.

  • Mimi

    We got here by leaving the country and migrating to the cities. How do you feed a city? The way we are generally being fed. What happens to the country? Rural areas become ghost towns.

    We are now generally more affluent than we were eighty years ago, but this is our price.

    I don’t know what the solution is. The country is in a deep recession and less and less people are able to make the choice to eat well.

    One thing I do see as positive is the movement all around us to make our own foodstuffs and grow our own foodstuffs. Some people are baking bread made with sourdough, some people are pickling, some people make beer. Others grow food in their yards.

    I just found out that my city has a strong participation rate in food not lawns and these people get together to share the food they grow. We need more of this grass roots food production. Although it is not practical to grow meat in a city, some people could grow chickens or tilapia on a small scale for family consumption. If we are willing to do the work, amazing things could happen.

  • Andrea

    One sentiment that’s comes up often when I talk to people who see the movie is exactly what you said:

    “there’s almost nothing in this movie that I, like most people who follow these issues, haven’t known for years.” But…

    It’s one thing to read the stories, another to see them come alive on screen. The cinematography was fantastic. I really liked the opening sequence with the ominous music.

    The other thing we agree on is that those who see the movie are likely to be the ones who know the issues (that is, in a sense the movie is preaching to the converted) but the challenge is getting people who SHOULD see the movie to see it.

  • Wilma de Soto

    Just doing some research and it appears my neighborhood has quite a few businesses who use only local farm goods, and there are several delivery options available.

    It’s just that it is expensive,i.e. $21.75 for an organically raised 4-6 lb. chicken.

    Anthony Bourdain stated a a lecture I attended that this is “rich people’s food.” He’s right, but I am still willing to bite the bullet and shop locally as much as my pocketbook can stand it. Just omit something else to make ends meet.

    That’s a helluva choice!

  • Tags

    Let’s not forget the deceitful practices of the food industry, like calling something “Pomegranate Juice” when it’s really apple-grape juice with pomegranate juice added as an afterthought, and advertised as being like eating a pomegranate.

    No accountability.

    Juices are concentrated and pasteurized and advertised as having the same benefit as eating the fruit, even though both these processes rob nutrients from the juice.

  • Dick Black

    You might have a word with your associates at Food Network about this film .If anyone has a candid audience to reach people it would seem they do.

    You would think the preminent TV station dedicated to food should show some form of responsiblity, but somehow I think they have enough of their own greed and profit issues that would prevent them from doing so.

  • Jill

    The most moving part to me was the corn farmer at the end, practically begging us consumers to demand more of him and other farmers – begging us to give him the option of growing something other than Monsanto corn.

  • Michelle

    Don’t think that people living in small town, rural America are eating better than those of us in major cities. I have access to more than one Farmers Market with local food (at least in the summer months.) We starve, however, when visiting relatives in small town Kansas, who’s entire sustenance comes from the nearby Dollar General and Wal-Mart. (Gag!) When I queried local residents if they had gardens, or go to Farmers Markets, they just stared at me like I was asking if they had been to the moon. I think most people in major cities (especially on the coasts) would be shocked to know how Middle America eats. But then again, after years of government deregulation, this is where we have ended up … with corporations feeding us. The problem lies with corporations, who feel the need to grow bigger and bigger, like sharks, eating everything in their path. “Food, Inc.” is the reality show Middle America needs to see the most. Upton Sinclair first published “The Jungle” in the socialist newspaper “Appeal to Reason” based in Girard, Kansas. Ironically, this newspaper, known for its prominent leftist writers, has all but been forgotten by right-wing, Middle America. We are our own worst enemy. Where is Quint when you need him to kill the shark?

  • faustianbargain

    i dont know what’s the point of the movie and their proposed solution if nothing is mentioned about abolishing farm subsidies…esp to the corn mafia. fruits, vegetables and local farms that supply bulk of the food do not get any subsidies at all. that is the root of our food problem. if that isnt dug out and discarded, we are not going to be resolving anything anytime soon.

    GMO’s irongrip over our food is next.

  • ruhlman

    i’m glad you brought up subsidies, fb. What would happen to a business that built a product for $10 each but sold them for $4. They wouldn’t last a year. Should the govt give them $7 per product just to keep them going? This is what our agrifarms and giant food producers are doing. How on earth is this a sustainable practice? But how do you end what’s begun?

    thanks everyone for all these excellent diverse comments.

  • Rob O.

    I’m confounded by the fact that excellent books have exposed the horrid practices of the livestock industry for the past decade or so and yet the same practices persist. Why are we still allowing cattle to be fed corn at all?

    And if you live in an urban area that’s not in an agricultural region of the country, how do you transition to being a localvore? How do you find local ranchers who raise cattle responsibly and sustainably? I’m willing (and thankfully, able) to support local famers & ranchers and pay extra for locally-raised meat, but haven’t got a clue where to find it.

  • Natalie Sztern

    obviously i am passionate about this movie and topic.

    do u know in the montreal area markets known as Jean Talon and Atwater one cannot find ‘farm fresh’ eggs any more. It is a constant topic on Montreal Chowhounds.

    where have all the farm fresh eggs gone? blowing in the wind?

  • Wilma de Soto

    Some one correct me if I am wrong, but doesn’t Monsanto and Archer Daniels Midland, (Supermarket To The World), control most of the world’s germ spore and not just the US?

    They have appropriated germ spore (seed) from places around the world where they once grew naturally. Some of those places are suffering from famine.

  • Dave L.

    Mike – your last point is excellent. The is about supply and demand. If we demand it, there will be supply. If we don’t there won’t. Hard to imagine that one person not voting could make a difference, but as we see in politics, a lot of “no” votes can add up and change the world. Conversely, a lot of “yes” votes for the things we believe in can also add up. We should all vote “yes” and “no” as often as we can in the voting booth and with our wallets.

  • Natalie Sztern

    Michelle I feel for you and I hear you and I feel sorry for ur McMansion friends. I am retiring from a job where I help abused women and children find the courage to leave their abusive environments and help them to gain independence and jobs and apartments. These womean struggle every day just trying to feed their children a meal, not anything fancy just a meal. It is almost, no it is, so out of reach for them to buy meat of any kind and pre-ground hamburger meat is sometimes all they can buy and cook. How can I tell them no don’t buy it because it is crap? I have to encourage good nutrition and its importance for their children: who also must take lunches to school

    Every day the frustration of food hits me blindly in the face because food is the single most costly expenditure on a weekly basis and it is what makes ‘our mothers’ go back to their abusive husbands each and every time.

    The fear of not having food to feed their children is up there as reasons they go back.

  • Natalie Sztern

    It is clear this movie made an impact on ur readers, myself included.

    twenty odd years ago when in my early 30′s and just barely into the foray of food, and u in ur 20′s, I met a man whose profession was a Meat Inspector for the FDA. and whilst we ate at a table of 6 he explained that if we actually knew what we were eating on a daily basis and where it came from we would turn vegetarian. When he bit into his steak i queried him and he said that he makes it a point to know his meat comes from and with his credentials he made sure the meat being served on this cruise ships was to his standards which they were. I think he mentioned that several agencies inspect cruise ship food and so he gladly ate his steak.

    Food Inc I saw on my own and that was three weeks ago since then I cannot PHYSICALLY cannot eat a piece of meat and I do not know what to do. the part of that movie that made the most impact on me was:

    watching the cows being hand stuffed through a funnel. I cannot get that out of my mind …

    My goal now is to check out how Canadian agencies inspect our food. If any of your readers know this then please post that information here.

    thankyou

  • sailing chef

    I was difficult to shake the desire to just not cook. As personal chefs, my partner and I need to maintain our enthusiasm for cooking and sometimes that may mean holing our breath and doing/buying something we’d rather not. Reality is that our clients won’t be around if we jack our rates the 20-30% required to go local, sustainable, organic. So the movie is right, its a travesty that a bunch of carrots costs more than a bag of chips. I’m not a huge advocate of gov’t intervention in my life, but I do believe that food has been ignored for too long and something needs to be done. Didn’t MR post something right after the Big ‘O’ got elected about ag being a focus? Or was that Pollan in the NYT?
    Ruhlman, Buhler? Anyone…Happy Friday Foodies!

  • Julie

    Great post. Thank you.

    It’s scary because we know there’s this whole huge problem with our food system in this country, but what is there to do about it? I went veggie recently, but honestly, what kind of impact does that really have?

  • Judith in Umbria

    I won’t be seeing that film in Italy because probably it won’t go into full release here and will only be shown to interested groups in large cities. On the other hand, I don’t need to see this film, because I live in a place where people are not unquestioning about food. I find many believe any story that comes along, but besides that even the savvy have made sure one can know what’s going in the mouth. Labeling includes provenance. Even eggs are coded and how to read the codes is explained lots of places. As much as possible, our biggest supermarket tries to sell meat from animals reared nearby and slaughtered locally. It’s against the law to use hormones and antibiotics to increase yield or for any purpose within a fairly long period before slaughter. If you want vitamins and minerals that don’t naturally occur in your food, you have to get them yourself.
    I am really spoiled now, after years of knowing when I read the label on a package it will have only the same ingredients that would be in that food if I made it at home. When I teach, my forst words tend to be, “Know what you are putting in your mouth.” It’s too bad it takes this film for so many to know.

  • Chris_Onstad

    Bravo. Well written, and especially poignant to a parent. I’ll read Fast Food Nation or Omnivore’s Dilemma or The Jungle, then swear off the garbage for a while, but resolve always atrophies in time. Your essay helped wake me up again. Thank you.

  • Tags

    The so called “free market” is what brought us credit default swaps and the resulting implosion and meltdown.

    There needs to be a middle ground between the oppressive “big brother” and the unregulated and unaccountable “free market.”

  • Michelle

    I have been waiting a long time to see this movie … It is not coming to my city until Aug. 27th. My family and I have been following these issues for some time now, and we try to vote with our dollar. But I live in a city dominated by bad grocery stores and fast food. And I get tired of driving 30 minutes just to get to a decent grocery store – and we’re not talking Whole Foods – just a local store with a butcher in the back. I buy local as much as I can. And because of our financial situation, and the horrible food they served my kids at college, and my son’s health issues – we totally uprooted our lives, sold our home, moved to a rental near the kids college, and now live a very downsized, but tasty life. On the other hand, we have casual friends living in a nearby, beautifully decorated mc’mansion, who pride themselves on eating the cheapest fast food possible every single night of the week. They have 3 kids, one a severe diabetic. And in order to keep their pretty house, they have put themselves on a very strict budget, limiting the amount they pay for food. Thankfully, both of my kids brag that they would not trade all the pretty houses in the world for their good food. I visit the Farmer’s Market, once, sometimes twice a week. My friend has never been to a Farmers Market. We are in similar income brackets, but live vastly different lives. My life is hectic, crowded, cluttered, and sometimes there are mounds of dishes in the sink. My friends’ life, however, is much prettier – she has neatly discarded all the fastfood containers into the trash. Because of the way our government’s, and our communities are set up – it takes all the extra time, money, and energy that I have, just to shop for, prepare, and maintain this lifestyle of conscientious eating. And since my son is already compulsive about the food he puts into his mouth, I am hesitant for him to even see this movie. It won’t make my life easier. But he will go… and eventually we will have to eat again. So what does one eat after seeing this movie? The paper one used to write their congressmen?

  • carri

    I grew up in southeastern michigan in the 70′s, my great grandparents lived on a farm on the outskirts of town and I could still drive by the house where my grandmother grew up. Those farms and houses are now all subdivisions and strip malls built in the 80′s to satisfy the expansion of auto workers in the area. I left 27 years ago. When I think about where all my energy has gone during that time since and if I had stayed and put it into my community there, instead of somewhere else, maybe things would be different. I think one of the answers is to build a sense of community amongst those around us, especially our families…plant gardens on rooftops and empty lots. Take responsibility for your trash and your actions. Think about what you buy and why!

  • saltydog

    You brought your kid? What kind of movie did you expect? Was it a balanced approach?

    Sometimes I think you’re easy.

  • Non Dire Gol

    Re: comments on salmon. Farm raised salmon has to be artificially colored through its food so that it’s flesh is evenly vaguely pink. Otherwise you might confuse it with a fillet of flounder, and certainly not with wild salmon.

    The film takes a quick swipe at NAFTA which I don’t agree with. NAFTA would work for all three countries if only we would play by the rules and stop paying agribusiness huge subsidies to support single crops. Our balance of trade with Mexico goes like this; they export a limitless supply of cheap labor and then import from us an unlimited quantity of assault weapons.

    The single most vile thing depicted in the film had to be the last seed cleaner in Indiana being sued out of business by Monsanto.

  • chefinohio

    As a chef, I don’t care how this problem gets solved.

    But, first and foremost, as an American…I DO.

    Please do not ask big brother to solve this. When he gets involved what happens? Well, things like people under 18 cannot apprentice properly in a kitchen because they are not allowed to use a slicer, mixer, etc…

    The answer is education, education, education…all of us that have known about these issues for years learned only by our own research and looking out for our own well being (and caring for others), NOT by depending on big brother to protect us. The only thing big brother wants to protect is himself and his ability to be re-elected.

    Be an educated consumer/producer and allow the free market to influence what ends up on our (customers) tables.

    Really though, there are as many factors in this equation as there are sauces that can be made…if there was a way to make this knowledge as instantly gratifying as buying a fast food “meal” or gassed tomato in January….

  • Tags

    Don’t wait for some elected official to be strong and do the right thing.

    Amen. Light a fire under his ass.

  • Bob

    kinda tired of this crap. Can’t help but think that somebody’s just out to make an extra buck. Especially when you know that half the “organic” stuff sold at Whole Foods and other places are just un-messed-with seconds from commercial farms (primarily Monsanto joints). They, the stores, etc, all get to charge premiums for these castoffs.

    Though I do agree with such strong opinions on livestock related issues, though.

    So I’ll buy my steaks from Whole Foods – but they can take their overpriced bland produce and shove it.

  • Kate in the NW

    I will take my daughter to this movie, or rent it when it comes out on DVD. Preaching to the choir, but still – it’s important.

    It really hurts to see something you cherish become gravely ill and suffer, no matter what it is – and MR, you clearly love food in a deeply personal and emotional way.

    I guess all aspects of our lives should have people who love it in this way: art, architecture, the environment, animals, music, books, medicine, law, language, you name it. All these things need protecting and they need wise, balanced and passionate advocates – the writers, the filmmakers, the musicians, and even (sometimes) the politicians. Most of us are not articulate enough to be effective at spreading the word.

    Thanks for being among the people speaking that way for what we eat and how it’s produced, and for helping your colleagues do the same. Maybe if the bandwagon gets big and noisy enough, change will happen.

  • Paul Kobulnicky

    Let me second the idea that we all influence the market by our purchases. If you don’t want crap; don’t buy crap. Don’t wait for some elected official to be strong and do the right thing … doing the right thing starts at home.

  • Carol Blymire

    It’s all about money and influence. And sadly, the only way we’re going to see real change is if a child or grandchild of someone in big Ag or in the lobbying/legislative community dies of e coli. Even then, don’t count on it. This issue is tangled up in so many different legislative arenas, it’s difficult to move the needle at all. At the core of any issue, it takes grasstops AND grassroots pressure, and more importantly, big money from the private sector to make a change of this magnitude. It’s how Washington works.

    The two most influential committees to reach out to and keep tabs on are Senate Ag and Senate HELP. Their info is here:

    http://agriculture.senate.gov/

    http://help.senate.gov/About.html

  • tom hirschfeld

    I also think Bitter Harvest by Ann Cooper is something to consider.

  • Tags

    You can look up your congressional representative or senator on wikipedia and dig up their voting record, then, in response to their solicitation for campaign funds send this URL in reply

    http://change-congress.org/no/

    Not getting solicitations? Visit their website and leave your address. It won’t be long before you hear from them.

  • Victoria

    M.R. I hear you. I will (gulp) see this.

    I am responsible about food. My friend and I raised fallow deer on his farm in upstate NY for 10 years, and I learned a lot about caring (as in I care) about animals and what raising animals for slaughter in a humane way was.

    I had an odd moment a few weeks ago when a friend of mine came to visit me from Phoenix. When I asked her what she wanted for dinner, she replied “salmon.” Off to the fish store we went. I know as well as anyone that wild salmon is far, far, far preferable to farmed salmon. It’s not even a question.

    I faced a huge dilemma when it was obvious that the farmed salmon at $16 a pound was far fresher than the wild salmon at $31 a pound, and I caved. If it had just been for myself, I would not have bought either.

    In order for this to work, lots of people have to get on board. Let’s just all eat half the amount of the wild salmon. That way we can keep the cost down and eat responsibly and well. Lets remember the food we eat – and the animals that supply them – are precious and are worth the cost necessitated by acting in an honorable way. Let’s all be willing to pay the price.

  • lisaiscooking

    After seeing the film, a friend asked me what I thought. My answer was ‘it’s sad.’ I completely understand your reaction as the information here was not news to me either. I left the theater wondering how we had gotten here and how quickly we can correct the situation.

  • sarah henry

    Great post, couldn’t agree more. And as my son, also 10, said on the way home from Food, Inc: “Sometimes the scariest movies are the real ones.”

  • Chef Gwen

    Grumpy Glutton was kinda wordy, wasn’t he?

    About 3 1/2 times as wordy as your post.

    As wonderfully written — and compelling — as your post is, I hope people will take the extra time to wade through the grumpy glutton’s response.

    He, too, is recommending that everyone see this film and form opinions of their own.

    No, I have never met him. I’m not shilling for him.

    I am a proud Slow Food member. I believe that our food system is in dire straits and has to be re-tooled.

    I’m doing things personally and professionally to contribute to that effort.

    Kudos to you for even mentioning a person that might have a slightly different view than your own, even if your mention was brief and dismissive.

    Multiple points of view are how things progress from hysteria to civilized discussions about how to improve.

  • Gretchen

    I wept at the end of the movie and then felt ashamed that in this day and age .. we let this happen.

    The Bottom line is our government needs to take responsibilty and help farmers/cattlemen etc so that the food supply is not tained, filled with hormones and basically crap rather than just what is suppose to be there…food.
    We are the riches nation that had citzins that must feed its young on processed foods because its cheapier than fresh veggies and fruits.

    I love beef. Will always love beef. But i don’t eat it as much as i like to because it is to expensive to buy the more organic and better for me version.
    Never eat chicken ,veal, foie gras etc because of my year stint in a slaughter house.

    The enviroment is getting raped by us because of greed. Our farmers cant provide simple things to us anymore because it is to expensive.

    Our kids are getting fatter because we can’t afford to cook for them because we have to work 3287187321 hrs just to pay for rent.
    I live in the middle of no where and feel lucky that my local farmers can provide some fresh organic produce at reasonable prices and that my kids know what they are eating is good for them.

    We need to stop bemouning and start doing something as a nation. Washington needs to stop paying themselves stupid salaries and use those bonuses to fund farms and alternative food and fuel sources.

  • Laura

    You know I’ve been waffling back and forth about whether or not I wanted to see this movie. I’ve read the books and articles so feel that I’m fairly well informed on the subject. But you’ve encouraged me to see it. Tomorrow. And I so agree with your point about buying food = asking for me. So, so true. And I doubt many people think about it that way at the grocery store.

  • Penelope

    Thanks for the post Michael. I only knew of the movie from your twitter so I thank you because I have no idea at all of how it is. I am not originally from this country so a lot of times, my mind cannot grasp how huge “corporation” and their impact. I have been trying to tell everyone I know of this movie. Almost forcing them to watch it. It is sad because the movie is not shown to more theaters considering this is the most important movie so far.

  • Rhonda

    Aaron: I LOVED King Corn! I think I have watched it 6 or 7 times now.

    JW: yes! This is what I am saying…

    In fact, there is a food blogger, a very successful one who does great work that cannot get access to certain food. I love her but because I happen to have choices available do not use her recipes.

    We all know in our hearts what is good for us.

    Part of the issue is econimical access. There are children in our countries who cannot identify vegetables because they have never seen them before. This, in itself is FU!

  • Wilma de Soto

    After I read “The Jungle”, by Upton Sinclair I freaked out for a couple of years.

    This movie may jolly well put me in accord with James. I may never want to eat meat or anything again.

    I might be taking the time to drive up to Bob del Grosso’s farm for real food that I can see for myself and know how it is raised and processed.

  • Non Dire Gol

    Michael, I finally saw Food Inc just this week. I will second the advice to the consumer which concludes your post. Raise your hand if you still have an actual butcher in your community. And I don’t mean the guy behind the meat counter at he supermarket who knows how to operate a band saw and not much else.

    Unfortunately I failed to get to End of the Line before it left town. What we are doing to our oceans is arguably worse than how we are treating our earth bound food supply. Food Inc touched on this briefly; fish farms which turn salmon into vegetarians and so on. A consumer might want to know that Chilean sea bass isn’t really a bass, and that the catch wasn’t selling very well in North America when it was known as Patagonian tooth fish.

  • Pat

    The only way to get rid of monsanto is to start a grass roots movement to buy shares in the company,take it over an dismantle it.um be nice if someone could figure out how to have the board shack up with bernie madoff.

  • Aaron Ward

    This might be old news to most here, but I just saw King Corn last night which I think is another phenomenal movie about food. Two guys move to (my home state of) Iowa to grow an acer of corn and follow its path all around the US. When I saw how cows have been fattened by nothing more than corn in confined spaces with little room to move, and that it is unlikely that anyone under the age of 30 knows what grass fed beef tastes like unless they go out of their way to find and buy it, I couldn’t believe it.

  • JW

    Sad to say that outside of the major US cities, we have few choices. I live in the 2nd largest city in Georgia (Augusta). Richmond County is 70% African American and the overall demographic is relatively poor. We have one organic “supermarket” that even I as a professional cannot afford on a regular basis, and it’s a 25 minute drive from my house. I don’t feel the consumer should share much of the blame, when this is the reality for most of the nation. So who is to blame, capitalism?

  • Rhonda

    Michael,

    Great post. I feel the same way.

    HOWEVER: to some poor communities in the US, eating fast food is not a choice.

    I recently watched an African American Couple who have pledged to only spend their money at Black owned businesses because the only businesses in the predominantly black neighbourhoods were liquor stores and funeral parlors.

    This means travelling 16 miles to go to a grocery store or 5 miles to go to a bank. What if you do not own a car?

    Same with food. Yes, we need to do these things but what if there are no grocery stores in that neighbourhood that sell produce? What if a consumer doesn’t have transport available to travel the extra XXX miles or the time to do this.

    This Industrial Disease is far more insipid than most of us can imagine.

    I understand the tears.

    It is not a choice to some.

    I tell you, I am so very very very grateful that I can choose what I eat and travel in an air conditioned car at 5am in the morning to pick up fresh fish. I am grateful that I know my butcher by his first name, I am grateful that I can go to farms and get fresh veg.

    This ain’t so for a lot of folks.

    On my part, I feel powerless, I don’t know what to do. There are communities that exist of houses, liquor stores and MacDonalds. Next stop is 20 miles away.

    Raising money is great but as we all know, it is how you spend it.

    Education is key but when you are trying to convince a single mother with kids to feed that her day and dollars need to stretch so she can go home and cook, it ain’t gonna fly.

    So, let’s cry our tears and find a way to fix this.

  • Beth

    I think this is a great film for anyone who has *not* already read Fast Food Nation and Omnivore’s Dilemma, otherwise the movie is basically a mashup of the two.

    While I like the message the film conveyed, the tone is so over the top (particularly at the end) I think you’d have a hard time using it to convince a conservative person to carefully consider their food sources and choices. A film like this needs to be far reaching, and not just preach to the choir.

    I know if I tried to show this to my conservative father he would be offput and feel as though he’d been beaten over the head with the message.

  • Patrick

    I too cried at the end of the film, and had no idea why. Some of what you say might help to explain this; perhaps I need to sit down and try to pinpoint my reasons for doing so.

    When the movie finished (about 6:30 in the evening) my wife and I both kind looked at each other and said we feel like having a glass of water for dinner. And to think, I used your blog post on pizza to prepare some dough, and recently purchased a bunch of toppings from local farmers’ market.