Sunday, September 5

Food, Inc.

Food, Inc.Food, Inc. starts by telling us that the food industry doesn't want us to know where our food comes from, because if we knew, we wouldn't eat it. The documentary wants the world to know that the way we produce food has changed. It is no longer farm-based, and is now factory-based. Its an industry that abuses animals and their workers as well.

I was especially excited to hear the input of Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma. He points out that a very high percentage of our food is just a clever rearrangement and processing of corn. According to him, corn has conquered the food world. This is because the government subsidizes corn, allowing it to be produced below the cost of production. High-fructose corn syrup and a lot of other extracts are partially responsible for the rise in obesity in this country. It is also the main ingredients in feeds, including fish feeds. The "bad" calories are made cheap, and healthy calories are more expensive, making income the biggest risk factor for obesity.

What really bothers me about this topic, however, is the animal cruelty. A typical mass-produced will never see sunlight and is physically unable to take more than a few steps at a time. I'm sure we've all heard about downer cows.

Visually, the movie is well done. The camera angles and animations are very creative and look amazing. Some scenes, however, are hard to watch but in a movie on this subject, that is to be expected. It is not nearlly as bad as a PETA brochure.

In the wake of the recent Iowa egg recall, I recommend that anyone interested in food safety look into and advocate for Kevin's Law.

The interesting angle that I hadn't heard of before is that of genetically modified plants and the companies that hold patents on those plant seeds. The documentary makes it clear that these companies are abusing IP law the judicial and regulatory systems to harass farmers, some of which do not use their products. The fact that really irks me is that Clarence Thomas, a former Monsanto attorney, wrote a major decision on the issue of seed patents. In the interest of fairness, he should have recused himself. From what I know about Justice Thomas though, I'm not surprised that he did not. I really want to spend more time researching the patent issues here. They are absolutely fascinating.

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