Sunday, October 18, 2009

Food Inc.

I just recently watched Food Inc., a very insightful movie that exposed, pardon my language, our fucked up food industry. A majority of manufacturers no longer produce food with the intentions of filling our stomachs with quality food, but with the intentions of filling their pockets with money. Below are a few noteworthy facts, statistics, and profound points made in the movie.

-The average supermarket carries approximately 47,000 products. This is an illusion of choices, considering only a few oversized companies manufacture these products and market them under different names.
-The little farm images on the packaging of these products: Simply a mirage. The food isn't really coming from small, romanticized farms. It's coming from huge, machinery-filled factories.
-In the 1930's, the invention of the drive-in has revolutionized the food and restaurant industry, pushing it towards a downhill spiral.
-Only 3 or 4 large companies, such as Tyson and Perdue, control meat production. These monopolies aren't just causing problems for the treatment of the animals, but for the quality of meat produced for humans as well.
-Producing food has become highly mechanized. The factories consist of large metal equipment, turning food production from quality into assembly line manufacturing.
-Just like the mechanizing of production, that actual animals are being treated as if they were pieces of mechanical projects. Chickens are twice as big, yet slaughtered in 1/2 the time as 50 years ago. The birds are genetically manipulated to increase their breast sides. This artificial process can't be healthy.
-In traditional large-scaled factories, chickens never even get to see the sun. Talk about fully domesticating an animal and treating it as an object rather than a being.
-In fact, only one chicken farmer out of the numerous asked for the making of Food Inc. would let cameras inside their chicken coops/houses. The coop shown exposed that chickens were growing to rapidly for their bones to fully develop, making it so most of the chickens could walk little more than a few feet. It also isn't uncommon for a chicken owner to walk out of the coop with multiple dead chickens each day. And if the chickens are sick, well, they're going to the slaughterhouse anyways.
-A lot of the farmers know that the conditions of their animals are abhorrent. However, they're kept working out of the hands of the large companies because if they don't, they'll lose their contract and their debt will just keep building. One farm put it like this: "It's like being a slave to your company." The 18,000 a year a typical farmer makes isn't quite enough to work off the 500,000 loans needed for building/production costs and to have the freedom to speak out against the companies they work for too.
-Another problem is the fact that government subsidizes specific commodity foods, such as corn. One expert estimated that 90$ of the products in the supermarket contain corn, soy, or both, all products of which are subsidized by the gov.
  • Since corn has been made cheap due to subsidization, animals such as farm-raised fish and cows that are designed by evolution to eat other things, are being fed it in mass quantities. Feeding corn to cows, which are designed to eat grass, is causing an increase in e. coli in their feces. The cows, which are often forced to spend their day knee deep in each others feces, are carrying the e. coli infected feces with them into the slaughterhouse where it is then being transferred onto the meat Americans consume.
-The USDA doesn't have much control over the meat companies because of the cost burden the regulation would require. One woman who lost her son due to the consumption of a hamburger containing salmonella said she felt as though "the industry was more protected than her son".
-Additionally, since corn is subsidized, products that contain corn fillers, which range everywhere from soda (high fructose corn syrup), to Cheez-Its, to hamburgers are made cheaper. It's sad that you can get a hamburger for 99 cents, while a head of broccoli is sure to cost over a dollar.
  • Due to the standards of food, since 2000, one out of every three children will contract early onset diabetes. One half of these children will be from minorities of whom don't have the money to spend on expensive, yet healthy foods.
-Not only are the animals treated like objects, but the workers are too. Immigrants, often the main employees of large-scaled slaughterhouses, are forced to cut off the same part of the same animal all day long, making just enough money to afford the junk food they need for survival. As many as 30,000 animals a day are butchered at one single plant, causing workers fingernails to separate as bacteria spreads on their hands.
  • And the immigrants often get caught by police and are picked up like their criminals, while the meat companies are making millions.
-When you look at the environmental costs, health costs, and societal costs, cheap food is in reality expensive food.
-Another big issue: Genetically modified foods. Over 90% of soybeans contain a patent placed by Monsanto (A company genetically modified seeds so that its weed killer would kil the weeds around plants without actually harming the plants themselves). When you genetically modify a crop, you own it.
  • If Monsanto's seeds get crossed over into a farmer's crops who aren't using Monsanto products, which happens quite often, than Monsanto can take the farmer to court for supposedly trying to "steal their seeds". It's almost impossible for these small farmers to win out against monstorous Monsanto, and in doing so they'd most likely fall under huge debt.
-What's worse, GMO products aren't even required to be labeled in the supermarket. Approx. 75% of foods in the store contain a GMO ingredient. Yet it's not made easy for consumers to differentiate between these products, so they are forced to swallow these artificially manipulated ingredients.
  • They are trying to sell cloned animal meat without labeling. If I bought meat from the store, I certainly wouldn't want to mess with unnaturally cloned animal products.
-The good news: The organic industry is growing 25% annually.
-Additional good news: You can make a difference. The average meal travels 1500 miles from farm to supermarket. By eating locally, in season, organic, garden-grown, or farmer's market foods, you can help change the world with every bite.


  1. You are seriously my foodie college twin. I swear. Have you read Michael Pollen's books? They're basically the written version of the "Food Inc." but pretty interesting too. :)

  2. No, I haven't, but I'll definitely have to take a look at them. The movie was great. Like all of those investigative journalism movies, very moving...