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Food Inc: Reclaiming America, Bite by Bite

Food Inc: Reclaiming America, Bite by Bite

Food Inc on opening night (photo by Creative Commons user *Noema*)

Isabel Cowles Murphy | Chef's Blade

But Food, Inc. doesn’t simply rely on a series of horrifying images of slaughterhouses and factory farms to get its cultural message across, although it certainly contains scenes unfit for the squeamish. Instead, the film uses real people and their struggles with financial, physical and emotional distress tied to industrialized food. One family is forced to choose between Burger King and broccoli in order to pay for diabetes medicine. One woman lost her child to an E.coli- infected hamburger and has spent the last six years fighting (unsuccessfully) for improved food safety standards. One farmer agrees to let the filmmakers see her chicken coup and subsequently loses her contract as a Purdue supplier. These people testify to the perversion of American nourishment. Something is amiss when a hamburger costs less than a head of broccoli. When spinach and tomatoes become a serious risk to public health, something beyond the individual is sick. The people who produce what we eat should not be forcefully silenced about their practices.

Human beings, economically and politically savvy as we may be, cannot exist for long outside of our ecosystem. Even if it seems cheaper today to buy a burger at a fast food restaurant than to buy seasonal vegetables from a local grower, the overall environmental cost is devastating in the long-run. Unfortunately, food calories have been re-routed so that energy-dense options often lack real nutritive value and require greater amounts of overall energy to produce. Efficient though the factory farm may currently seem, it will end our ability to feed ourselves as oil, clean water and healthy soil become increasingly limited. Alternatively, growing a wider variety of crops seasonally and humanely will keep people and the environment nourished for generations.

The film leaves us with an empowering extension of this message, reminding the viewer that while the high demand for food has gotten America into a threatening monopolistic mess, it is also the key to recovering our food heritage. Eating happens at least three times a day for most of us, and the choices we make at each meal greatly affect the state of our local growers and communities.

Food is everything: it is a reflection of how we value ourselves and the world, though the fact is often forgotten in a culture where fast, cheap and easy eating has become the norm. Emerging generations should not grow up believing that diseased bodies and a polluted world are necessary conditions. Food, Inc. empowers and challenges us to choose our food with a higher consciousness and care, reminding us that every product we buy and every bite we take can be a commitment to restoring an ailing network: the people, communities, animals and land that make America. The health and future of our society begins with the journey from seed to plate and perhaps for some, a ticket to this film.

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