Think back to the last meal you ate. Where did it come from?
At first, this seems like a fairly straightforward question. It probably came from your local Woolworths or that Chinese restaurant around the corner. But where did it really come from? How did the food on your plate make its way from paddock to plate?
Food Inc. is a documentary that wants you to ask these questions. The way we eat has changed more in the past 50 years than in the previous 10 000 and that doesn’t sit comfortably with filmmaker, Robert Kenner. He delves into the secret underworld of the American food industry and discovers that most of the farming process has been hidden from the consumer. Throughout the film, Kenner tells the audience that large corporations are naughty and local organic farmers are nice. Food Inc. is filled with fun facts that make your stomach churn.
Food Inc. points out that the modern supermarket has no seasons. There’s no need to wait around until next January to cook spaghetti bolognaise when you can buy tomatoes all year round. When they’re out of season, tomatoes are grown half way around the world, picked when they’re green and then ripened with ethylene gas. Sure, it’s a still tomato, just not how nature intended it to be.
Food Inc. raises health and ethical concerns about other parts of the supermarket as well. In the meat section, bones are out, bigger-breasted chickens are in and we’re all in search of the perfect pork chop. Kenner took his cameras into slaughterhouses, farms and factories to discover that animals were being pumped with hormones and illegal immigrants were risking their lives in poor working conditions.
The documentary provides rare behind the scenes footage of an industrial chicken farm. Carole Morison, a chicken farmer who was under contract with Perdue, America’s third largest chicken processor, let Food Inc. inspect her property. On Morison’s farm, chickens were subjected to accelerated breeding and were so jammed that they often perished. Following the release of Food Inc., Perdue terminated Morison’s contract.
Food Inc. raises a lot of big questions but doesn’t provide a lot of answers. Covering such a broad range of issues means that Food Inc. is just scratching the surface of the American food industry.
If you want to overanalyse what you ate for breakfast, maybe you should watch Food Inc. for yourself.
Photo sourced here.