Sunday, June 21, 2009

Food, Inc.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the movie Fresh. Last Monday night, I went to an advance screening of another food sustainability movie: Food, Inc. Food, Inc. is similar to Fresh in some ways. Both films cover a lot of the same territory covered by Omnivore's Dilemma; both include commentary from Michael Pollan and Joel Salatin; and both depict the gruesome reality of industrial animal and grain farming. Both filmmakers seem to have been motivated by the same desire for justice and transparency in our food system. Food, Inc., however, goes several steps farther than Fresh in detailing the ecological, nutritional, and ethical disasters of industrial meat and "conventional" monocrop farming. It also digs deeper into the ties between industry and government regulatory agencies, painting an unflattering picture of Republicans and Democrats alike. It is a film about both the big picture and the gritty details. If there's a movie out there that will lead people to abjure meat of unknown origin (MOUO), this is it. Food, Inc. will ultimately be more effective than Fresh. Food, Inc. is more incisive, more polished, has better distribution, and includes a clearer call-to-action for the viewer. For the same reasons, it will be the target of more antagonism. Already, even before the film had been released, Monsanto had posted a "fact" page taking issue with some of the claims of the film. (The filmmaker was on hand at the screening, and, not surprisingly, refuted pretty much all of Monsanto's claims.) That this film even got onto Monsanto's radar is significant. It means that the lines of battle are being drawn, and that the forces of industrial food are taking the real food movement seriously. Do you remember Fahrenheit 9/11 in summer of 2004, or An Inconvenient Truth in 2006? We need a breakthrough film for the cause of real food. Go see Food, Inc., and bring a friend or five. The more people who see this film, the more theatres it will reach, and the more press it will get. This is how movements start.

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