Food Inc.

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Last night Eric and I watched Food Inc. I have been meaning to see it forever now and I finally got a chance to watch it after getting caught up on my orders.

food-inc-poster

Here is a bit about the movie:

"In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government’s regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation’s food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, herbicide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won’t go bad, but we also have new strains of E. coli—the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually. We are riddled with widespread obesity, particularly among children, and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults." [Source]

One of the main messages from this film is to educate yourself where your food comes from. It is not as simple as it seems either. The government and giant food companies work very hard so that we have no idea what happened to the food before it got to our plate. Robert Kenner did an amazing job at uncovering the veil that has been placed in front of us for so long.

The movie was just as I expected it would be:

Incredibly thought-provoking, horrifying, sad, emotionalyet inspiring.

Eric and I both teared up at a few parts in the film. At a couple points, I actually thought I might burst into tears and never stop crying. It was pretty overwhelming I will admit.

I actually didn’t know if I would be able to watch it because some of the parts are quite graphic. I had to turn away when they were showing the slaughter of the chickens and cows. The windowless, extremely overcrowded, and unsanitary chicken slaughter houses horrified me. I mean I knew they existed, but actually seeing one was just disturbing. Factory animals often spend their entire lives knee-deep in their own feces. It never occurred to me why there are so many E-coli outbreaks in our food system- well, the factory animals are often covered head to toe in their feces and it is impossible to fully remove the feces from the animal. So the feces end up in our food system. On our dinner plates. The feces also leak into the waterways and contaminate other vegetables like spinach. Pretty disturbing, isn’t it?

I found myself holding my breath at many parts in the movie and I noticed that I was quite anxious while watching it. It is one of those movies that you know you need to watch, but at the same time you know that you are going to have negative emotions while doing so. It is extremely depressing to think about what our food industry has turned into.

Here are some of the important issues touched on by the film:

Factory Farming

  • Approximately 10 billion animals (chickens, cattle, hogs, ducks, turkeys, lambs and sheep) are raised and killed in the US annually. Nearly all of them are raised on factory farms under inhumane conditions. These industrial farms are also dangerous for their workers (they frequently get infections), pollute surrounding communities (manure, anyone?), are unsafe to our food system and contribute significantly to global warming.

Pollution

  • The average food product travels about 1,500 miles to get to your grocery store. Transporting food accounts for 30,800 tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year.

Cloning

  • In January 2008, the FDA approved the sale of meat and milk from cloned livestock, despite the fact that Congress voted twice in 2007 to delay FDA’s decision on cloned animals until additional safety and economic studies could be completed

Pesticides

  • Cancers, autism and neurological disorders are associated with the use of pesticides especially amongst farm workers and their communities.

Genetic Engineering

  • Some of our most important staple foods have been fundamentally altered, and genetically engineered meat and produce have already invaded our grocery stores and our kitchen pantries. Today, 45% of U.S. corn and 85% of U.S. soybeans are genetically engineered under a government-regulated system. In the 2008 election cycle, the food industry donated $65 million to candidates for federal office.

[Source]

There is really so much more to this movie that I don’t have time to touch on, so you really should go see it if you haven’t already done so.

This movie also left me hungry for Canadian statistics. I would love to find out more information about how Canadian factories operate. If anyone has any information on this, I would greatly appreciate it if you could point me in the right direction.

But the movie also gave me hope! We have the power to change this system now more than ever!!!

The Food Inc Website also provides some great tips on how we can make a difference in the system:

food_inc_5x7_v3

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It is important to note that the movie is not saying you have to go vegetarian to make a difference. If you can even reduce the meat you eat by one meal a week, you are making a HUGE, huge, huge impact on the food industry. If you choose organic meat, you are making a huge impact. You can make small changes each and every day that add up into something big.

I was asked last night on Twitter how the movie impacted the way I felt about the food that I eat. I simply said that it completely solidified my decision to eat a vegan diet. For myself, eating a vegan diet is my way of saying to the ‘system’ that we deserve better. The environment deserves better, the animals deserve better, and society deserves better. It also made me realize that organic is definitely worth it. For the past several months, we have not been buying much organic produce for cost-reasons, but the movie reminded me why it is important to vote for organic food. If it means that we will have to make other cut-backs in our lives, then so be it. I am going to try to buy organic whenever I can afford to do so to have my say in the system. I am also going to make more of an effort to buy locally.

As consumers, we have the power to influence the market. If there is a demand for organic, sustainable, and plant-based products- the super companies will deliver. Wal-Mart now carries many organic products because there is a demand for it. Don’t be fooled, I personally don’t think Wal-Mart cares about its’ consumers…but it is all about the bottom dollar for these super companies. If we demand it they will produce it.

I loved this take-home message:

Every time you eat, you are voting for the type of food that you want to see on the store shelves.

I really think everyone should watch this movie. It will change your life forever.

You can also download a postcard to help spread the message around the world!

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Have you seen Food Inc.? What were your thoughts? Did it change how you ate or how you viewed the food industry?

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Sara May 2, 2012

Hi Angela,

Just thought you might want to know someone copied almost your entire post and posted as their own. I know it was a long time ago … but it would really annoy me if someone copied my writing! I stumbled upon it because I was searching for that Food Inc quote at the end of your post, when I found this post and realized I’d just read the same words – on your blog.

http://theparkwife.blogspot.co.uk/2010/02/food-inc-hungry-for-change.html

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Angela (Oh She Glows) May 2, 2012

thanks for letting me know, I will check it out!

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Kayla @ kayla.eats.healthy August 14, 2010

I watched this movie last night! So inspiring, sad and emotional! It really gave me a new perspective on food. Lately I’ve been very conscious about the food I eat and food labeling, but this movie made me want to go even more extreme. I would love to know exactly where all my meals come from. This movie made me want to eat locally grown produce and eat local meat. I almost want to become a vegetarian after this movie! But great movie, overall.

I’ve been lurking on your site for quite some time and I feel bad that I’ve never commented! I’ve been reading the “Words Of Wisdom” posts and the social comparison stuff really got to me.

I love your blog! Thanks for inspiring me with your healthy choices and lifestyle!

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Mary October 23, 2009

Thanks for the review. I just picked up the book from the library. Can’t wait to sit down and dive into it.

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Charm City Kim October 23, 2009

Not that you need any convincing about going vegan, but if you get the time – “Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Industry” by Gail Eisnitz is an equally informative (and horrifying) book about the meat packing industry.

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Annie D. October 22, 2009

We turned vegetarian once and for all. It’s a horrifyingly great movie. It caused me to have panic attacks. Incredibly influential, and a movie everyone needs to watch.

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Kate October 22, 2009

Woah, wrong blog! Sorry about that random comment that had nothing to do with your post… feel free to delete :)

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Kate October 22, 2009

I just had a colposcopy and biopsy done yesterday, strangely enough. Hope your results turn out well! I’m actually in the middle of writing a How To Survive a Colposcopy post :)

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Laura@FindingAHealthyBalance...after a 100+ POUND weight loss! October 22, 2009

Great Post! Thank you for all the “educating” information……..I would watch it if I could handle it! =(

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Stacey October 22, 2009

I felt the same way when I saw that movie! My boyfriend thought I would NEVER stop crying…It’s like you said…you know that stuff is happening out there, but when you see it for real, it’s overwhelming. It made me happy to be vegetarian! And now I’m showing it to my classmates too :)

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lexi. October 22, 2009

Have not seen this yet! thank you for reviewing it. I hope to catch this flick soon!

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Joanna October 22, 2009

Hello,

I think one of the comments above already touches on this, but any vegetarian or vegan also needs to very carefully consider where the grains and vegetables they eat come from. They can chalk up a lot of miles, especially when “exotic” or tropical fruits are flown from warm countries to colder ones in refridgerated airplanes to keep the produce fresh – a HUGE carbon emissions issue. And soy is a real problem – the Amazon rainforest is mainly being cut down now for soy farming. Most of this soy is for animal feed (so reducing the demand for meat will help), but human consumption of soy also needs to be in moderation – better to stick to other sources of vegan protein if possible.

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Mo October 22, 2009

Joanna, those are good comments. I try to almost always eat local produce and am lucky to live in CA, where it is abundant. I will look into the soy issue and should probably keep what you stated in mind and begin reducing my reliance on soy products.

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Jenny @JennyLikesToRun, on a mission to run a marathon to fundraise for the Breast Cancer Foundation October 22, 2009

That movie hasn’t come out in New Zealand yet, but I’ve read heaps of reviews about it on different healthy living blogs and I’m so keen to see it! It looks fantastic and I love the tips it offers. I’m going on a wild goose chase to hunt down a copy of this!!!!

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amy October 22, 2009

I am not a vegan, or vegetarian, and have nothing against it as I was veggie for 17 years. However, my husband and I are both hunters (not for sport…for food) and we typically shoot one moose, caribou or sheep each year, this is enough meat for us to eat all year long!!! I would much rather be connected to my food, because every time I grill a moose-steak I know where it came from, and how much sweat, mud and cursing it took for it to make its way to my plate. I am hugely grateful for the animal and understand that it came from an ANIMAL. a WILD, FREE animal.

The other movie to watch that is similar is “End of the Line” which discussing the problems with over-fishing. Again very enlightening

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Julie October 22, 2009

I LOVE this movie! You are completely right, everybody needs to see it! Even my fiancé who doesn’t really care about what he eats, started thinking after watching it.

I was wondering if you could do a post on how eating vegan has changed things for you? Both mentally, but also physically…

Have a wonderful day :)

Julie

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Morgan @ Life After Bagels October 22, 2009

I haven’t seen it, heck I didn’t even read that yucky chapter in Skinny Bitch when they talk about the treatment of animals and how the are raised. I’m very sensitive and squeamish. I think I should watch it though, maybe even get my bf to watch it. I’m sure it would make him better understand the decisions that I personally make and the decisions I push for in our household and refrigerator.

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Betsy October 21, 2009

I’ve read many reviews of this movie on other blogs, but your review made me definitely want to see it. Actually, right after I finished reading your post I called my boyfriend and told him about the movie. We have now added it to our “must see” list. Thanks for the info!!

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jessi October 21, 2009

Hey girl!! i was reading shape magazine today and guess who i saw…Oh She Glows!!!! i was so excited hahaha…love your blog keep up the great work!! i too wish to own my own vegan bake shop :-)

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Ali October 21, 2009

I was wondering if you’ve ever done a post about the terms like “free range” or “cage free” and what exactly they mean? I agree with the one commenter that challenges us all to donate money and/or healthful foods to our local food banks! Great post, thought and conversation provoking!

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Taylor October 21, 2009

Angela! Oh my gosh you need to read the Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan if you haven’t already. It’s about this same kind of thing (corn industry, beef industry) etc..and goes into detail on all of the stuff in Food Inc. You would love this book.

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Barbara October 21, 2009

I saw it opening weekend in Austin…wow, what a movie! I now only buy free range and try to buy organic everything. I do NOT eat fast food ever…never ever and this is why!

There are a couple other movies like this that I really want to watch. Consumers hold all the power yet they don’t realize it!!!!!!

I’m moving closer to a plant based diet and feel i could go completely meat free and be fine!

B

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Michelle Gay October 21, 2009

I can’t wait to see it. I live in Oz and I haven’t seen it yet.

I think one of the things which struck me was the school lunches. I think that school lunches are some of THE MOST appaling food served to people. I remember when I was student teaching all of the kids that would get food, would get served it in a plastic bag that could be heated in an oven. In fact, it’s so rare now for cafeterias to actually make their food that the NYTimes ran an article about one such school in NY.

It’s disgusting when you think about the food that is being served to kids. I am not going to go on about being vegan or vege or meat eating. I think that fundamentally it comes back to what we evolved from. Sustainable, organic homesteads. Now, we all can’t have gardens and animals. However, we CAN make a concious effort to buy from those who do follow this regime and mental framework.

It’s about investing in our health by the fuel we put into it. It’s about teaching our kids to value healthy food. It’s about cutting back in other parts of our lives so that we can be organic, sustainable food.

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Pure2Raw - Twins October 21, 2009

Round of applause. Well said, we did a post on this movie as well and had the some thoughts you did. I love eating vegan and could not be more proud!!! I agree with movie is graphic and it is so sad to say that it had tome to that. That we have to see such horrific things to make change!!!! Hopefully now people will make better decisions not only for the environment, or animals, but for themselves and their families. We all deserve better!!!

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Menden (Skinny Menny) October 21, 2009

How weird – my boyfriend and I also watched this movie last night!

I think one of the most heartbreaking parts of this movie was watching the family that chose to purchase processed fast foods over healthier options because they needed to feed their family, and felt that fast food was the only option for them on their limited budget. And yet the father was diabetic, the daughter was pre-diabetic, and they clearly were dealing with health issues. The mother said that she had to choose between being able to purchase her husband’s diabetes medication and healthy groceries. I think it’s criminal that a head of lettuce is more expensive than a crappy burger from a fast food chain!!

Watching this movie was also the first time I’ve seen “behind the scenes” of what goes on at a slaughterhouse, and I too was in tears. Those scenes replayed over and over in my head last night. I am not currently a vegan, or a vegetarian, but I certainly am motivated to make smarter (and kinder) choices about what I eat after seeing this film.

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Nicole October 21, 2009

Hey Angela!

I’ve yet to see Food Inc. but i was looking through your review and when i got to the part about round-up ready soybeans it reminded me of a film i recently saw (made with funding by the NFB of canada). its “the world according to monsanto” and it takes about the shady stuff going on with the company in terms of GMOs and control of global food supply, it can be boring at parts but its pretty interesting.
heres the link on youtube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_OJcPKEYDE

Enjoy ;)
Nicole

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Nicole October 21, 2009

Hey Angela

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Eliza October 21, 2009

I feel a little creepy, because I’ve posted similar comments on other bloggers reviews of this film, the Pollan books, etc.

I understand the outrage at the food industry. I consume only locally produced, small-farm raised meats (as in, I trade labor or something else for part of a pig that my friends raised along with one other pig in their backyard), and only locally produced dairy. I buy local produce when I can, and organic if its from far away. I’m with you all on that.
However, some comments here border on judgmental of other people’s choices. And I want to make it really clear that having the option to choose locally produced foods, or organic food, is a privilege. Straight up. Even if it means you sacrifice something else, or cut back on spending in other areas- it is still a privilege.
Poverty in this country is out of control. People are starving to death this very minute, in this very country, probably in the towns everyone here lives in. So lets be cautious about making statements along the lines of “people need to be smarter about what they put into their body.” And be aware that this issue is far more complicated than any of Pollan’s books or this movie make it seem to be.
My beef with the film, and all the related media that has come out recently about this topic, is that it is targeted and directed to a very specific audience. That audience is probably already fairly conscientious about their eating habits, and probably knows something about the food industry. So people go see the movie and walk out of the theater angry that this is going on in the world (justifiably) and feeling proud of themselves for the food choices they make, and disappointed that everyone can’t make equally smart food choices.

If you want to do something really great, please consider donating money or food to your local food shelter. Give them a call, and ask what they prefer. If money is tight, consider asking your partner if your holiday gifts this year can be donations to the food shelter instead.

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Anika October 21, 2009

The whole point is that people are starving because it takes too much energy to produce too little meat.

If you had done any research at all on this issue, it would be abundantly clear.

This issue is not complicated. Stop raising animals and then slaughtering them. Simple.

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Eliza October 22, 2009

World hunger and poverty is a far more complicated issue than people producing/eating meat.
My point had nothing to do with a vegan diet. It was pointing out that while systemic change is very important, making statements like “everyone should buy organic food” is ignorant, and that it is a privilege to make choices about what food you consume. In 2007 18 percent of children living in America were living in poverty. For a four-person family, the poverty line was at 21,000 that year. Regardless of where you live. Those people cannot just decide that tomorrow they are only going to buy organic, locally produced food. Because not only do they not have the money for that, they probably also don’t have the time to cook it after working a 10-hour day and dealing with two children. I think that developing an understanding for other people, their autonomy, and their lives might be helpful for you.
I think you have some very valid points, and I would agree that a plant-based diet is best for the environment, and in many cases, best for the consumer. My point was not meant to make a claim about what diet is best. It was simply to show that not everyone has the ability to choose, and not everyone even has a diet to begin with. I find it hard to imagine that there are many people who read Oh She Glows that don’t have enough food to eat, so I figured I’d pipe up in their honor.
I am a social worker, and I deal with poverty, hunger, and really crappy situations daily, so you have to understand if I seem a little punchy.
I apologize if I offended you.

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Stephanie October 22, 2009

Eliza, you shouldn’t have to apologize for having your own view. Why is it that people who comment with a different view than the ‘popular one’ feel the need to be so careful about every word they post worrying that they will offend people? I do not see the people who support the movie being concerned about your feelings (aka Anika who says you must not have done your research. What? Is Eliza’s research not as good as yours?). Everyone should be respectful of others opinions and a lot of times on these blogs they are not.

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Marcia October 22, 2009

You raise a good point Eliza about having the priveledge to choose organic and local.

Do I continue my quest for low-in-the-food chain beans and rice, and use the saved money to donate to the local food bank?

or do I spend more money on local and organic food “voting with my dollars” is a great way to put it.

I do both. And I’m definitely spending more later this year. I can afford to, and I almost feel like it’s my duty to support the local farmer because I can.

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Julie @savvyeats October 22, 2009

I agree with you on this point, Eliza. Yes, ideally we’d all eat a plant-based diet full of unprocessed, wholesome foods. But, as you pointed out, that isn’t always the affordable option. It would be wonderful if it becomes affordable for everyone someday, but the change isn’t going to happen overnight.

I worked for a large food company as an intern this summer, and our entire team went to see this movie. Our group worked on one of the less-than-healthy food items this company produces, but some of my coworkers brought up a good point. Our product was widely bought because it was cheap, kids liked it, and it was super-easy to make, and most consumers were not concerned with the nutritional aspects of the product. If people want to buy this food because their kids like it and its cheap, then the best way for the company to make changes is via “baby steps.” Our group’s projects all focused on removing trans fat or lowering the sodium content, etc without making the product more expensive. Someday, eventually, they could make it a more natural, less processed product, but for now, this is the best way for them to help their poorer consumers eat healthier.

After working there this summer, I have decided that I don’t want to work for one of the “big names” in the food industry, but I can say that the one I worked for is starting to take steps to improve their products, which is a good thing.

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Julia October 21, 2009

Hi Angela,

I’m SO HAPPY that you brought attention to this film. It’s been eye-opening to so many people – I’ve heard so many people say they’ve turned veg after watching it. I agree with Voracious Vegan’s observation re “happy meat.” There’s no such thing and it’s delusional to think that there is. Happy Meat is the meat industry’s way of giving consumers an excuse to continue supporting the unnecessary torture, slaughter, and murder of animals. I don’t like the compromised position the movie took on the issue – they should have gone all the way and fully advocated a vegan lifestyle. It’s like if you saw a move about the genocide in Rwanda and the conclusion was “well they should just kill the Rwandans in a more loving manner.”

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maria October 21, 2009

I have not seen the film yet, but I will as soon as possible. Unfortunately, it didn’t come to theaters anywhere near my hometown back in the U.S. I agree with a lot of what you’ve said and it’s nice to know that just one meal can make a difference.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) October 21, 2009

Its interesting how some of you said that the movie didn’t come to your hometown. Why do you think that is?

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Karla October 21, 2009

I recently saw Food Inc was well. Since then, I decided to become vegetarian.

My only big issue with the movie is that it didn’t talk about organic labeling and regulations. While I wish I could buy only organic foods not only for health purposes but for farm worker safety, when I do I’m a little bit weary about where my money is going when I buy organic because of the lax regulations in many states/countries.

Other than that, I think it was a really interesting film that solidified my knowledge of our existing food system and made me look into food systems planning as a possible career path. Thanks for the post!

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