NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

"Food, Inc." informs, educates and calls to action

{/literal}{include file="blk:fooddude_header"}{literal}
Advertisement

As a journalist with more nearly two decades experience, watching “Food, Inc.” made me long for the days of investigative reporting that lasted over months and even years before yielding a story.
As a film-goer, I was riveted. It was masterfully constructed, cleverly composed and artfully shot and edited.
As a consumer, it shamed me for my ignorance and apathy.
As a food writer, it compels me to tell you the DVD release date is 11/3, show it to everyone you know.

This is an important film. It even-handedly conveys information that is open to discussion. You know you’ve done things correctly when publications that are obligated by their openly right-wing agendas can say little more than, “it would’ve been better with an explanation from those they point fingers at.” Of course it would’ve. It also would’ve been better if representatives from Cargill, Smithfield, Tyson, or Monsanto would’ve done an on-camera interview.

Yes, “Food, Inc.” targets multi-national corporations. Yes, it targets politicians. Unlike Michael Moore, who seems satisfied to titillate his believers without reaching a broader audience, director Robert Kenner isn’t satisfied to villify the practices of the Bush administration. He also pokes a finger directly into the chest of the Clinton administration for the NAFTA agreement’s role in damaging the world corn industry, which led to an underground railroad between industrial chicken and pork farms and undocumented Central American laborers, who work cheap and are eventually deported.

According to the film, the old practices of coal mining operations that led to union organization have been transferred to commodity farming and unions can’t protect the workers because they’re undocumented.

And that doesn’t include the deadly consequences of feeding cattle a high-fat corn diet instead of the grass and oats they eat naturally and stuffing them together in corrals like a lot of canned sardines. Then there’s the heart-breaking story of a little boy who died from eating tainted beef, and how his mother has fought unsuccessfully to push a law that would help others avoid such a fate.

I can’t get the horrific and cruel footage of animals led to slaughter out of my head. Is it really necessary to abuse an animal just because it’s life is about to be taken? If a dog were treated in the manor of the animals shown in the film, those responsible would go to jail. Doesn’t an animal born to die, born to sacrifice its life so that we might be nourished and survive deserve better than to be forced to walk when its legs or broken or being hoisted by a forklift? Don’t they deserve better than being kicked into a pen and compacted? Don’t they deserve better than to be force-fed chemicals and hormones that make them so corpulent they cannot walk or escape a life spent wallowing in their own excrement?

And is that really what you want to eat anyway? Is it no surprise that we now have Mad Cow disease and a host of other food-borne illnesses?

In the end, the film is about us. It’s a mirror. Do you put convenience over health? Is the price of humane treatmant anything under a dollar?

And then there’s the farming industry. Thanks to some incredibly dubious dealing in Washington D.C., imagine that, farmers are being plucked up one by one by large corporations. This happened because politicians rely on our apathy. Here at the newspaper, we’ve tried for years to find a way to lure you into reading about what’s happening at our own state capitol to no avail. Our coverage has become smaller and smaller due solely to lack of reader interest. And out of this apathy, you have patents being put on life and commodities. Long story short, it means soy beans are under the control of a single worldwide corporation called Monsanto.   The corporation itself isn’t evil, it’s a machine run by people. It has no heart, it relies on its stewards to ensure it operates with morality and humanity. Sadly, when the machine gets too big and the salaries too high, the tendency is to err on the side of profit. When this happens, decisions are made without context. Consequences are beholden only to the bottom line. When businesses run people rather than the other way around, the results are catastrophic.

While the word catastrophic probably brings to mind images of 9/11, the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah building or Nazi concentration camps, smaller scale catastrophe is currently under way.

Watch the film. Decide for yourself. If you want to do something, the film has a Web site for guidance.

But put simply, self-govern. If we are to improve the conditions of the animals we eat or the workers who provide them, we will have to pay more. Before you complain about your grocery bill, take a look around your house and in your garage. Can you live with one less premium cable channel? Maybe no more Netflix? One less six-pack of beer?  Maybe it means a cell phone that simply makes calls. Maybe you don’t need a gas-guzzling SUV to drive 10 miles back and forth to work. Maybe you don’t need a pair of shoes for every day of the week. Maybe you don’t need anything from eBay for a month.

It’s up to us.

4 Show / Hide Archive Comments

{/literal}{include file="blk:fooddude_bottom"}{literal} {/literal}{include file="blk:fooddude_rail"}{literal}
Comments