Food, Inc. (2008)

Reviewed by Eric Larsen

Documentary Rated PG. Running time: 1 hour 34 min.

Are our favorite foods doing us harm?

2008 Magnolia Pictures

Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so.

The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good.

Genesis 1:11-12

Do you know what you’re eating? Over the course of this hour and a half documentary, the food industry is presented in ways the widespread public has probably never seen. Our vision is moved beyond the shelves at the grocery store as we are shown how factory farms now control most of the market. Cows, chickens, and pigs crammed with their own kind raised quickly, unnaturally, and having to live in their own filth. The chickens and pigs never even see the light of day before being slaughtered. Downed cattle are abused and often end up being sold as food.

Authors Michael Pollan and Eric Schollosenger detail the spread of e. coli. Through the tragic story of a mother and grandmother of a young boy who died from food poisoning we learn about the ongoing effort to present legislation so that production at repeat offender factories may be halted and investigated.

A lower income Hispanic family goes shopping and has to eat cheap fast food in order to save money for their father’s diabetes medicines. They know they need the healthier food and are torn by the financial reality with which they are stuck.

Situations are shown in which migrant workers are quietly arrested, fifteen per day, while the companies that employ them don’t face any repercussions. Family farmers try to save last year’s seeds but are turned in to corporations that have patented their own seed. If any of their genetically-modified crops are found on family farm land then the farmers are sued, even if the seeds were carried there by the wind.

Connections are shown between food industry executives who end up as financial contributors to both political parties and both previous administrations. Additionally, these executives have ended up in government positions monitoring the very businesses they were previously running.

Family farms, organic food, and purchasing locally grown food are presented as an alternative that is becoming more widely adopted. The question is what kind of food do you want to eat? For your children, friends, and relatives? With your purchasing leverage, what model are you going to support? I don’t know that I’ve ever experienced a film that made a recommendation about prayer. In this situation, I was asked to pray for food that is healthy for us and the planet. To that I say, “AMEN!”

For Reflection and Discussion

1. Were you struck by the scene of the chicken slaughtering at the family farm? If the animals are going to be slaughtered, one way or the other, would you rather they live in the conditions of the factory farm or that they be able to live under conditions animals would normally be assumed to live before becoming food? While vegetarians would prefer neither, which ones appeared to be more cared for, those in the fancy factory or in the simpler farm?

2. What were you surprised by?

3. Whom do you identify with in the film?

4. In what ways do you feel helpless? In what ways, have you learned that you can make a difference?

5. In light of the detailed dietary laws of the Hebrew Scriptures what do you think of the ways in which our food is raised and processed?

6. What are you going to do about what you saw?

Further information, reading list, and participant guide may be found at: http://www.foodincmovie.com/