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Food, Inc.

A 2009 American documentary film directed by Robert Kenner

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If you are what you eat, then most of us have no idea who or what we are

  • Oct 3, 2009
Rating:
+3
Among the maxims carved on the entrances to the Greek temple of Apollo at Delphi, perhaps the most familiar and important were "know thyself" and "nothing in excess." We have reached a point, two and a half millenia later, where we could really use both pieces of advice. This film offers valuable wisdom to a culture in which the self is defined by the products we buy in far too much excess.

If we are what we eat, then most of us (this author included) have hardly any idea who or what we are. We live in a culture of abstraction: we don't see what goes into the products we buy, and are unaware of the true costs of the food that sustains our lives. Director Robert Kenner has created a film that puts various pieces of the puzzle together, and helps make clear what it is we're buying, and what it is we're buying into, when we demand cheap eats, and reveals the truth behind the illusion that most of our food comes from quaint farms.

As the film shows, by means of interviews, animations, effective video and surveillance tapes, there are hardly any family farms anymore, and most of our meat comes from massive factory farms in which animals are packed in tightly, wading through their own manure, rife with disease that is only partly kept in check by pumping chickens or pigs or cattle full of antibiotics. That meat, of course, ends up in our food supply and in the fast food hamburgers, and there's hardly any effective oversight for consumer safety because, as it turns out, most of the regulators for the past couple of decades have been drawn directly from prominent positions in the industries they are supposed to regulate. Then, there's the matter that all of these animals are mostly fed on corn, and most everything else we eat is made from corn or soy or corn and soy byproducts (such as high fructose corn syrup), primarily because corn is heavily subsidized in the United States, so that it can be sold below the cost of production. The majority of the soy, it turns out, is bioengineered and patented by the same chemical company that produced those innovations we know as DDT and Agent Orange - and that same company (Monsanto) has made it virtually impossible for farmers to grow anything else but the seed that they must buy from Monsanto. Not only that, but Monsanto's patents have made it illegal even for farmers to save their own seed from season to season, and Monsanto enforces its hegemony by means of intimidating lawsuits that most farmers just can't afford to fight. It's a depressing story, made somewhat lighter by the inclusion in the film of a few somewhat successful crusaders fighting to bring healthy and sustainable farming and growing practices to the mainstream and to fight against the powers that profit a great deal from cheap and unhealthy foods.

The film offers only a bit in the way of positive suggestions for real change, and that may be its main weakness. Of course, the advice it does offer is probably the only advice you can offer: first, vote for good foods with your wallet by buying organic and local, and by encouraging distributors like Walmart to expand their healthy offerings; and secondly, organize and wield political power to support candidates who encourage green practices and to encourage elected officials to favor better regulation. I think it would have been more effective to highlight these messages clearly one at a time throughout the film, at strategic points, rather than mostly in a few written suggestions at the very end of the film and just before the credits.

Still, this is an important film that conveys a number of important and harrowing truths about the food industry more clearly and effectively than I've seen it elsewhere. Of course there is Eric Schosser's Fast Food Nation, and Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, but both of them are featured here and this is a quick and effective way to convey the most important messages, that could be explored further. Highly recommended.

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July 27, 2010
Wow, this movie sounds really eye opening! I've heard tons about it, so I still have to catch it. Have you seen King Corn before? It focuses on high fructose corn syrup and is equally shocking and eye opening. Thanks for sharing this, Nate!
 
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More Food, Inc. reviews
review by . November 15, 2009
posted in Green Living
You'll never look at food the same way.
 In the past six months I have drastically changed my diet from processed, fatty, sugary foods to one that includes lots of raw vegetables, no wheat, no sugar, and very little processed foods. To say the least I have lost 25 lbs. and feel the best I ever have in my entire life. I began eating this way mostly due to digestive problems which actually still plague me but on a much, much more infrequent basis--it's still a work in progress. Since my "diet metamorphosis" as I like to refer …
review by . February 25, 2010
Food Inc.
Food Inc. is one of the most eye-opening films I've ever seen in my life. It really makes you think about where our food actually comes from and at what cost. It's disturbing to hear these facts at times, but every consumer needs to know about what is going on in the food industry before they make another purchase. It's mind-boggling.      The film starts with a man who wants to know the answer to a simple question. Where does our food come from? How does our food get to those …
review by . February 04, 2011
posted in Healthy Lifestyle
   I tend to avoid constant streams of news because the flow of bad and dark overwhelms me and makes me feel hopeless. I can't watch the endless commentary on why people do some of the hideous things that they do, or how our world is becoming more and more hostile. So the fact that I generally love documentaries surprises e.      Food Inc was one I put off for a very long time. I'm not naive - and maybe that's why I did put it off - because I know just enough. …
Quick Tip by . March 06, 2011
read china study as well; both books are very informative as to why we need to radically change our diet for our own heatlh and health of the planet, as well as defang industrial animal abuse system
review by . March 09, 2010
posted in Green Living
This movie has really changed the way I think about food. I've been a vegetarian for a while, but I never really thought about where my food comes from, and more importantly, what's in my food.      This documentary really stresses the importance of eating local and organic food whenever possible. It has also changed the way I look at the supermarket. Really opening my eyes about how much junk we put in our bodies as Americans all for the sake of "convenience".    …
Quick Tip by . November 08, 2009
posted in Green Living
If you haven't seen Food, Inc. ... RENT IT NOW!!! I'm reinvigorated to buy local, sustainable, and help support GMO labeling, etc.
Quick Tip by . October 29, 2009
A documentary film as imporant as it is entertaing.
About the reviewer
Nathan Andersen ()
Ranked #68
I teach philosophy at Eckerd College, in Saint Petersburg, Florida.      I run an award-winning International Cinema series in Tampa Bay (www.eckerd.edu/ic), and am co-director of … more
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Food, Inc.
is a 2009 American documentary film directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Robert Kenner. The film examines corporate farming in the United States, concluding that the meat and vegetables produced by agribusiness have many hidden costs and are unhealthy and environmentally-harmful. The film is narrated by Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser. The documentary generated extensive controversy in that it was heavily criticized by large American corporations engaged in industrial food production.

 

The film's first segment examines the industrial production of meat (chicken, beef, and pork), calling it inhumane and economically and environmentally unsustainable. The second segment looks at the industrial production of grains and vegetables (primarily corn and soy beans), again labeling this economically and environmentally unsustainable. The film's third and final segment is about the economic and legal power of the major food companies, such as food libel laws, whose livelihoods are based on supplying cheap but contaminated food, the heavy use of petroleum-based chemicals (largely pesticides and fertilizers), and the promotion of unhealthy food consumption habits by the American public.

 

The film has generated controversy for its views. The producers invited on-screen rebuttals from Monsanto Company, Tyson Foods, Smithfield Foods, Perdue Farms, and other companies, but all declined the invitation. Monsanto says it invited the filmmakers to a ...

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Details

Director: Robert Kenner
Genre: Documentary
Release Date: June 12, 2009
MPAA Rating: PG
DVD Release Date: November 3, 2009
Runtime: 94 minutes
Studio: Magnolia
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