DVD: Food, Inc.
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For most Americans, the ideal meal is fast, cheap, and tasty. Food, Inc. examines the costs of putting value and convenience over nutrition and environmental impact. Director Robert Kenner explores the subject from all angles, talking to authors, advocates, farmers, and CEOs, like co-producer Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma), Gary Hirschberg (Stonyfield Farms), and Barbara Kowalcyk, who's been lobbying for more rigorous standards since E. coli claimed the life of her two-year-old son. The filmmaker takes his camera into slaughterhouses and factory farms where chickens grow too fast to walk properly, cows eat feed pumped with toxic chemicals, and illegal immigrants risk life and limb to bring these products to market at an affordable cost. If eco-docs tends to preach to the converted, Kenner presents his findings in such an engaging fashion that Food, Inc. may well reach the very viewers who could benefit from it the most: harried workers who don't have the time or income to read every book and eat non-genetically modified produce every day. Though he covers some of the same ground as Super-Size Me and King Korn, Food Inc. presents a broader picture of the problem, and if Kenner takes an understandably tough stance on particular politicians and corporations, he's just as quick to praise those who are trying to be responsible--even Wal-Mart, which now carries organic products. That development may have more to do with economics than empathy, but the consumer still benefits, and every little bit counts. - Kathleen C. Fennessy
by "loce_the_wizard" (Lilburn, GA USA)
"Food, Inc." does more than serve as an exposé on the United States food industry--it connects the dots between the nefarious, contemptuous business practices of multinational corporations and their best friends, the compromised government regulatory agencies such as the USDA, FDA, and EPA, who have in the past been led by folks well connected within the very industries they are supposed to regulate.
But let's hold on a minute. Filmmaker Robert Kenner's documentary could have been just a dour, paranoid investigative piece and still told the truth. Instead, Mr. Kenner has made a color, fast-paced, and well-documented account of the state of the food supply in our country; the unintended consequences of the efficiencies, short-cuts, and technological methods inherent in factory farming; the insidious insider relationship between the meat industry and the agencies that should be regulating it; and the health effects, including diabetes, of consuming processed foods and fast foods.
Naturally, the culprits behind the curtain (e.g., Smithfield, Monsanto, Perdue) would not appear on camera, not because they are cowards but precisely because they are so powerfully connected, and have legions of lawyers and enforcers (yes, like any bully, these outfits do use intimidation), and are moving to control free speech and criticism of their practices.
The counterbalance to the doom and gloom comes from interview with small farmers; with entrepreneurs in the organic food business; and with brave folks who have tried to make a stand against the food industry; and with those experts who are striving to be modern day Paul Reveres in the face of mass indifference.
Kenner uses photography and imagery to make his points, and he interlaces this film with scenes of amazing beauty and graphic cruelty. "Food, Inc." is not an easy film to watch, and it should not be. Kenner uses the final frames to deliver some to-do's for those who want to respond to the film not just in conversation but through action. As trite as it sounds, if you can only see one movie this year, go to this one. (When the negative review start cropping up for this movie, it would be interesting to see how many of those are from food industry insiders and their minions.)
by Brandon E. Baker
What can be more important than the food you eat? This is the movie that the American public needs to see. This movie deals with issues that each and every one of us faces every day--without even knowing it. Covering all sorts of food-related issues, from animal cruelty to the agricultural triumph of corn, this movie will leave you more informed than you were before, and will empower you to make a difference, at least in your own buying habits.
Take the time to watch. We're all slaves to the food system--at least educate yourself to how it works.
From the Internet Movie Data Base (imdb.com) viewer's reviews:
Stuff to know, whether you like it or not...
by MisterWhiplash from U.S.A.
Food, Inc is essential viewing even though it's not a great movie. Much like "An Inconvenient Truth," its facts and accumulation of information trumps style or overall craft. This doesn't mean that the director is making a bad film or doesn't have some clever visual cues and transitions or know how to combine interviews and archival footage, since he does. But it's the precious interviews he gets, and just leaving the theater knowing that American food (or just stretching worldwide) is run by four corporations and that the farming industry as is advertised as "the American Farmer" is in deep trouble.
It's separated into sections, and each one has something interesting. The one that got to me personally was the section on chickens, how they, like cows as well, are genetically engineered to get bigger a lot faster than they used to, and how the working conditions are at best hazardous and at worst untenable. We see one woman interviewed, the only one who bucked her corporate bosses, to let the cameras in to the state of the chicken coop. Even if one hasn't seen a regular chicken coop before, the state of this place, the stark and dark mis-en-scene, gives us a picture of how it is. As someone like myself who likes a good piece of chicken every now and again, it made me about as guilty as imaginable.
But perhaps that's part of the point of Food, Inc - get us informed to the point where we're scared s***less. The downside may be the reach; while Inconvenient Truth had the boost of a Vice President, the big names in this documentary are authors, one of which wrote Fast Food Nation (and, surprisingly, eats a hamburger on camera, from a diner of course, and speaks about how burger and fries are some of his favorite food to eat despite the horrors of the fast food industry). So it's difficult to say how many people will see this who don't already have some idea about the atrocious conditions in slaughterhouses, the outbreaks of E-Coli that affect countless people including little Kevin as seen in the film, and Monsanto's patent of a soybean seed that they genetically altered. Between that last part alone and a little factoid made about Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, it's no wonder one leaves the theater flabbergasted.
There is some hope the film provides, however. A Virginia farmer, who treats all of his livestock with care and feeds them right (not copious amounts of CORN, which, by the way, is practically coming out of your ears as you read this), gives a few moments to reflect on how the ideal of the American farmer, of what they can give to the community and how they can try and be reasonable with having to do the inevitable of killing living things for food. Hell, the director even has Wal-Mart's one really good moment in the documentary sun in years with its endorsement of organic products. But whatever you're own persuasion on food- be you a hardcore vegan or someone just coming from McDonalds before the movie starts- Food, Inc can make some sort of difference, if only for the information. I know I may not stop eating certain foods, but I'll never forget to give another look or a double take on what's in it- or what may not be there at all. This movie is good, valuable stuff.
NATIONAL NEWS MEDIA CRITICS:
• "Don't take another bite till you see Food, Inc., an essential, indelible documentary." - Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
• "Essential Viewing" - Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times
• "3 1/2 Stars" - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times
• "Required Viewing. One of the year's most important films." - Rossiter Drake, 7x7
• "You Have To See Food, Inc." - Corby Kummer, The Atlantic
• "See it. Bring your kids if you have them. Bring someone else's kids if you don't." - David Edelstein, New York Magazine
• "Excellent in every respect." - Pete Hammond, Boxoffice Magazine
• "A cleverly written and well produced documentary. Kenner crafts an intelligent, visually compelling argument grounded in old-fashioned investigative research and journalism." - Maria Garcia, Film Journal International
• "I'm not generally in the habit of praising movies for being good for you, but Food, Inc. is more than just a terrific documentary—it's an important movie, one that nourishes your knowledge of how the world works."
- Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
• "Does for the supermarket what 'Jaws' did for the beach."
- John Anderson, Variety