"Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again..."

Location: Tampa, FL, United States

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Review of Food, Inc.

Christians, conservatives, independents, moderates, libertarians and others are not likely to plunk down a few bucks to see the movie Food, Inc., dismissing it as a left-wing, Michael Moore-inspired, PETA-friendly propaganda piece. Having viewed this documentary the other night, to some extent those are valid arguments. However, there is enough compelling information and video in the flick to warrant viewing by a large swath of the inhabitants of our mother land.

The thrust of the important part of the film was the vast majority of the American supply of poultry, meat, corn and other seed products are funneled through a handful of large multinational corporate giants that mistreat the animals, the assembly line workers, and sell a product to your local grocery store that is “plagued” with problems from a health and safety standpoint. Of course, one can draw their own conclusions from what they see and hear in Food, Inc. but there’s little to suggest the interviews are coerced or the video photo shopped. As you might expect, George Bush is faulted for being too friendly with Monsanto, the King Kong of the genetically modified soybean industry, inclusively, but Bill Clinton is rightly faulted as well for the same coziness with said agritech giant. Obama’s name is never mentioned in the film, and it’s likely his election to the office of president occurred after the principal footage was in the can, so we’ll give the writers and producers a pass on excluding him. However, the agents of change—Obamabots—must admit Obama is definitely not using the bully pit to expose the abuses of an industry—da food—abuses abhorred by some of his most ardent, left-wing supporters. It’s doubtful any politician seek a national office will touch the food industry because they need the donations and votes tethered to it, and don’t want to see the same go to their opponent(s) if they stump for independent farmers.

Of special interest to right-leaning movie goers would be the film’s coverage of America’s departure from a grass-fed beef-consuming culture to one of antibiotic-pumped, pesticide-tainted, grain-fed meat culture. The same grain issues affect the poultry industry as well. The film makes a great case for how such a transition is likely linked to the sometimes fatal E. Coli 0157:H7 outbreaks that surface from time to time. There’s splendid coverage of all the food additives made from cheap, government-subsidized corn, especially high fructose corn syrup, and how these chemicals make it into the majority of our processed foods and school lunches. While Americans are quick to donate money to the American this and that societies to reduce heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis and other diseases, it’s notable that the food industry largely gets a pass, with much fewer dollars going to correct the problems in this industry that undoubtedly seeds many of the health problems we throw money at today. (The writers missed a splendid opportunity to indict the industry for distorting the disease-causing Omega 6:Omega 3 [“bad fat:good fat”] balance in the American food supply here, but you can’t have it all I suppose).

With the health care debate in full swing and the possible nationalization of America’s health care system looming, it’s illustrative to note how the growth of the food industry assembly line worker pool has exploded through the decades. And the final products have taken up greater residence in the diet of the poor families of America. If there were ever good intentions in the hearts of the movers and shakers at the top of the food industry pyramid and the government oversight entities (i.e. FDA, USDA, etc.) it most certainly has backfired. It’s inevitable such a consolidation of the health care industry will endure a similar fate. Whenever the federal government departs from enforcing contracts and instead simultaneously enters into and “polices” contracts the massive conflict of interest issues portend misery on multiple levels. Food, Inc. spends sufficient time documenting the mistreatment of the poor in the food industry, both in the supplier side and on the consumer side.

Documentaries bring back painful memories of watching educational videos in elementary school. Food, Inc. does a good job of making some good arguments in spite of its inability not to be almost completely left-wing-friendly. Do yourself a favor though and see Food, Inc. and weed out the propaganda from the rest of the meat of the film that is worth your consumption. You won’t experience any lulls for the duration of the film. If nothing else you’ll likely make wiser food choices in the future and might even plant a small garden one day. You might also come up with a reasonable theory for why our borders are so to cross.

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