It’s Saturday again! It is also St. Patrick’s Day and, being a native of the Emerald Isle, I have a legal obligation to get hammered today. I’m not kidding. There’s actually a law. But before we get to the drinking, let’s talk about the eating.
I’ll never eat in America.
Robert Kenner’s film examines the pervasiveness of Big Agriculture in America, and how it affects the production of the food products – both animal and vegetable – that are made available to the consumers, as well as illustrating the lengths these corporations will go to to maintain their growing market shares.
Holy shit! That was terrifying. This film may have accomplished the unthinkable: it might just have changed my eating habits. Don’t worry, I’m not going to go all weird and vegetarian or any of that nonsense, but I am definitely going to be more circumspect about what I eat and where it comes from. There is one of those city farm things near my flat. I mean really near my flat. I’m looking out my bedroom window right now and I can see goats and a pony named Bob. Their damn rooster wakes me up at 5am every morning in the summer. The point of this digression is that they have a garden where they grow some fruit and veg and they sell this stuff, and after watching this movie I will probably be giving them a lot more of my business. Yes that’s right. I do eat vegetables sometimes.
But back to the film… Food, Inc.’s three-act structure is devoted to looking at each of three sections of the core issue: Act one is all about meat production and standards of animal welfare. This is certainly the most emotional section of the film and is designed to get people’s backs up. In that goal it succeeds admirably. With TV chefs like Jamie Oliver fighting the good fight, as well as other books and documentaries raising awareness, none of this is really new but is presented very effectively none the less. Act two focuses on grains and vegetables, and how corn has become the dominant crop on the face of the planet, its uses myriad and often mysterious. The third and, frankly, the scariest act examines the legal minefield that has sprung up as these corporations lobby the lawmakers to create statutes that protect them from even such things as criticism and disclosure at the expense of the small farmers and the surrounding industry. The story of Moe Parr’s battle against the monster that is Monsanto (please don’t sue me) is both sobering and very, very unsettling. I love the “revolving door” segment as well, showing the various members of the Clinton and Bush administrations who have moved from these corporations into such agencies as the FDA and the EPA (who allegedly ‘govern’ them) and back. So much for impartiality.
It is now 11:47pm and I am pretty well in the bag. I can’t honestly remember much about the film besides what I’ve already said but I do remember that it was a very well-presented argument that relied more on the weight of the points it was making than on empty and over-excited rhetoric. For that alone, it is to be applauded. I may come back and edit this at some point in the future, but for now just watch it (if you haven’t already).