Saturday, July 04, 2009

Food, Inc.

Today I saw the Robert Kenner documentary Food, Inc.

You may want to put down that bucket of fast food chicken before you head out to the theater to see this film. I'm not saying it won't still taste good, but you'll probably regret it after the fact.

This documentary tells us all what we would already know if folks toured chicken farms as often as they do chocolate factories: some of the stuff in our food supply is bad. Real bad.

None of this came as a shock to me. As huge fan of Bill Maher, I hear him bark about high fructose corn syrup and the dangers of over-processed food on an almost weekly basis. For the past 10 years I've either driven to Canada to purchase my Coca-Cola, or picked up the Mexican version at my local Costco (our non-American friends use sugar instead of corn syrup to make their Coke, so it tastes like the good old stuff we used to get as kids). I also seldom eat trans fats, buy organic, and have greatly reduced (but I'll confess, not eliminated) my trips to fast food restaurants. I do it more for my own health than any political reason.

But is it enough?

I'm not sure. What I am sure of is that I don't agree with the way animals are being treated before they're taken to slaughter. This film shows us evidence that chickens are usually kept out of daylight for the duration of their very short lives (just over a month in most cases) and cows are fed corn when they really should subside on grass. In the early days of farming and meatpacking, when the business was smaller, the practices were actually quite decent. But when the processing plants grew larger to accommodate the rapidly successful fast food enterprises, all of the standards went out the door.

That's not to say there aren't still ethical farmers using humane methods of farming and processing, but I'm afraid they all may be in this movie. All three of them.

Really, corn is taking over the world (seriously—it's in everything from diapers to batteries) and really should just be enjoyed in its original form: on the cob.

The other big problem is the lawmakers who make special exceptions for the food industry (did you know it's a felony to trash beef in Colorado?) by neglecting to establish stricter food safety practices and not adequately labeling genetically altered food.

What can we do to turn this all around? The filmmaker says: Buy local. Buy organic. Vote with your wallet.

I think I will.

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