Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"Food, Inc." Rips the Shrink Wrap Off America's Dysfunctional Food System

Hopefully "Food, Inc.," the new documentary by Robert Kenner, will do for the American food system, what "An Inconvenient Truth" did for global warming - start a national discussion about something so obviously broken, and ways it can be fixed.

Wouldn't it be great if water-cooler conversations about what we eat, and how it's produced reached the same level of passionate discourse as, say, Dancing with the Stars?

Last night I attended an advanced press screening for the film, and for me it had everything I love in a documentary - it was funny, sad, scary, thought-provoking, and left me wanting to learn a lot more.

"Food, Inc." brings to life the works of Michael Pollan ("The Omnivore's Dilemma") and Eric Schlosser ("Fast Food Nation"), the Batman and Robin of all things bound for the belly. To read their books about our dysfunctional food system is one thing, but to see it splashed (literally, in some cases) across the big screen was something else altogether.

It made me wonder how many of us, strolling through grocery aisles, realize that a small handful of huge corporations control almost everything we eat. Those shelves may look like an endless array of delicious diversity, but they're really nothing more than a collection of genetically-modified, nutritionally void variations of wheat, soybeans, and corn.

The movie does a great job of exposing just how far these companies are willing to go to keep you from understanding what's really going on. Ignorance may be bliss, but it's also very profitable.

Using a fascinating juxtaposition between the dark, disturbing subject matter and the film's colorful graphics, interesting characters, and ironically upbeat music, the filmmaker delivers an entertaining and engaging narrative. If you eat food, or know someone that eats food, you really need to see this movie.

"Food, Inc." opens in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles on June 12th, and then in selected theaters nationally in July. If you would like more information about this important film, please check out the Food Inc. website.

Watch the "Food, Inc." Trailer:



Movie Poster Graphic (c) Participant Media

23 comments:

foofifofum said...

Your commentary is powerful and compelling. Can't wait to see the movie. In the meantime, you'll find me at my local the Farmer's Market!

Anonymous said...

if the food blogging thing doesn't work out you can always switch to movie reviews. well done, thanks!

CollegeGourmet said...

I've become an active advocate for local and organic foods in the past year. I only buy locally now, I avoid buying products from large operations if I can avoid it. I can't wait to see this documentary, I think it's exactly what this country needs to see.

milkshake said...

I thought Super Size Me was hilarious - documenting the speedy metamorphosis of the healthy dude into one unhappy McMammoth.

But this particular trailer sounds to me like a spoon-fed propaganda so I think I will pass; I lived under communism so thank you very much for telling me what to think. (The orotund peddlers of the brain-mush like Al Gore deserve to be mauled by a pack of bloodcurdling feminists)

I did notice major improvements everywhere in the choice of decent food in US, since I came here two decades ago - not only in the cheese, beer and bakery isle. And the food still remains rather inexpensive here compared to Europe.

People don't have to eat deep-fried food and SPAM with Velveeta, and the companies that manufacture cheap and shelf-stable processed yuck will diversify into higher-margin and better quality products given enough demand.

Some major companies like Newmans' Own do not add preservatives and artificial colorings and gum thickening agents into their products. There is Traders Joe, and Whole Food. So its not true that there is no choice and that few evil companies control everything and gleefully make killing on our misery.

Paul Byrne said...

Its a potentially powerful political movement here. Someone once said that you make a more powerful political statment by choosing not to eat at MacDonalds than voting for for your chosen president.

This reaction against industrialised food is also recognised elsewhere. Look at Jamie Oliver and what he achieved with childrens school meals and in changing peoples buying habits. He did have an impact.

What makes these processed foods attractive is cost. Tax the food out of the market. Force the market to change and the benefits will come. There is no other way.

Ultimately this type of food consumption and demand is dictated by the market. In such circumstances it should be possible to tax unhealthy food out of the market and force consumers and suppliers to consume and produce healthy food. The downside is that food prices overall would rise and this would affect the poorest people most (They may not be grateful for this intervention in their lives for the sake of "their" health). However, it should be recognised that unhealthy food and eating habits does have a cost to us all in health care costs.... this needs to be addressed.

Chef John said...

you would be surprised if you saw this - it's so much more than those cliches you referenced. Check it out when it comes to cable... if you're still with us... ;-)

Aaron De La Torre said...

I am disappointed to see that this isn't in cinemas here in australia. Sure it might be a movie about the USA food industry but I'm sure things are the same down here. We seem to take all our other leads from you guys.

Hopefully it comes out on DVD at some stage.

Great review writing by the way.

Aaron

Asian-Malaysian said...

Ill probably have to order it on dvd as theres no chance of it running here in Malaysia. Ive been meaning to pick up Mark Bittman's Food Matters as well. Chicken used to be my main source of protein until I found out how they were "reared" (such an obscene use of the word now that I think about it)and for now Im trying to make it fish (though I looove me some red meat). Still, I probably need to eat less meat and more veg anyway. Thanks for the heads up, Chef John.

Anonymous said...

Oh man. Am I going to be afraid to eat anything after watching this?

Yubi Shines said...

I bet someone would upload it all on Youtube at some point. :B Such is the nature of the beast.

I think I will see it, although it's likely my mother will end up using it to nag me about weight again. So desu ne.

Anonymous said...

Hope this film will reach this part of the world by means of dvd or youtube!

Balls in your court.... Help us be politically right... said...

Michael Pollan recommends making Monday's meatless, so, as our personal guru, how about posting a video of a meatless meal each Monday?

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
----Margaret Mead

Chef John said...

i can't follow any such cooking schedules. That's like telling Picasso not to use red on Wednesdays...

Chef John said...

i can't follow any such cooking schedules. That's like telling Picasso not to use red on Wednesdays...

LOL said...

I was under the impression every impressionist resisted using red on Wednesdays.

Chef John said...

Picasso wasn't an impressionist!

Anonymous said...

Have you read Fast Food Nation? This is the book that 'SuperSize Me' was based on. It goes into much more damning detail about our corporate food delivery system. I guess more people would watch a documentary, so it still gets the message out. It's shocking stuff.

~ PJ

(Yeah, Picasso was an early Cubist, after classical training. That's the art major in me.)

Anonymous said...

Who said he was,? I was talking about you. You've told us how red screams reflected light and so you resist it.

Chef John said...

oh, ok, i get it now.

foofifofum said...

Hey, there's a new moniker for ya... The Impressionist Chef! I can already envision the table linens, aprons, caps, and t-shirts you could sell, and the graphics background on your blog adorned with the little stick figures you sometimes draw. Food Wishes. Recipe artistry from the kitchen of The Impressionist Chef!

Jesse said...

Try Meatless Mondays, Wheatless Wednesdays and Feetless Fridays. Did that for a couple months - loved it!

EZnSF said...

I will seek out this movie as I am much interested in the subject in general. However, I must say that the similarity of this topic, of late, and Gore's polemic propaganda are disturbing. The last thing this world needs is another 'manufactured' cause.

Love your site Chef!! It's Cherry Clafouti season tomorrow!

Rumela said...

That is an interesting one..I am going to gather some inspiration from the video. It is a great blog indeed. thank you for shearing your post.