Movie Review: “Food, Inc.” – The Right People Give The Right Message at the Right Time
Food, Inc., the movie, comes out in limited release on June 12th. (For detailed information about the film see the website here). I was fortunate to see it early at the Berkshire International Film Festival this past weekend. I am also happy to report that theater was nearly full. It is a must see movie for everyone. and here’s why:
For those of us who’ve been involved in the business of promoting whole, natural, locally grown organic foods since the 1960’s the movie “Food, Inc.” does not present to us anything really new other than the fact the industrial food trends in the US and the world have only worsened. But there are two major differences about this movie that makes this the one we’ve been waiting for. One is the timing of it and the second is who is spreading the message; it is the right time and the message is being brought to you by mainstream media and journalists, and more significantly, self- proclaimed “omnivore” Michael Pollan of the New York Times, among many others.
The timing of this message wasn’t right when in the early 1950’s Gloria Swanson fought against the rise of chemical agriculture. It wasn’t the right time when Rachel Carson published “Silent Spring” in 1962 that helped to ban the use of DDT. It wasn’t the right time when macrobiotic pioneers talked about the dangers of processed chemical foods and agriculture and began the organic industry in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It wasn’t the right time when Senator George McGovern‘s report, “Dietary Goals For The United States“, came out in 1977. It wasn’t the right time in the early 1980s when John Robbins renounced his Baskin-Robbins inheritance and instead spoke out against the food industry in his book, “Diet For A New America.” It wasn’t the right time in 1996 when Oprah Winfrey declared that she would not eat another hamburger on national TV after interviewing “Mad Cowboy” cattle rancher-turned-vegetarian, Howard Lyman. And it still wasn’t the right time when organic certification became nationalized under the USDA in the 2002.
It is the right time now when conventional factory farm companies have been slowly taking over the world since the 1950s and have now reached a near monopoly. It is the right time now when processed and fast food became a hit and took over America and the world and is now the principal cause of diseases everywhere. It is the right time when, just as “military industrial complex” took over our defense agenda in the 1960s, the food industry took over our government from the time of President Reagan until now. It is the right time when the patenting and ownership of life forms became legal in 1980 and spawned a revolution in the food industry; essentially a race to manipulate and own all livestock and seed in the world. It is the right time now when, after all the “Bush years,” including Bush Sr. and Clinton, big food corporations have essentially and successfully eliminated all regulations and now control and dominate global trade where they can now sue countries who do not accept their products. It is the right time now when conventional factory farm practices have become so overwhelming that they have become one of the leading causes in the destruction of the earth, poverty in the US and elsewhere, world hunger, and now recently, possibly the source of a whole new strains of deadly viruses including the avain flu and the swine flu. It is time now, when, finally, not just scientists, academics, food-faddists, health nuts are concerned, but also mainstream omnivores and when that happens, then that’s when you know it really is the right time.
When the freedom loving omnivores start telling us that we need to change our eating, then hopefully and finally, people will listen. Our concerns about food issues in the past half-century always ended with and unresolved arguement at the dinner table between those “I’ll eat what I damn well please” people versus those “limiting your diet” folks. Because of the disagreements the conversation stopped there. Anyone who had the foresight to “limit” their eating were looked at as either kooks or as possibly dying of cancer or as victims of some other type of disease or religion. And if they attempted to preach austerity to others they were looked at as being food Nazis and as being completely un-American. To the freedom loving meat and potatoes omnivores no amount of scientific data, philosophical, health, or ethical reasoning could convince them to give up their freedom and limit their diet. No movie star, no research scientist, no thoughtful academic, no esoteric oriental leader, no rogue industry whistle-blower, not even the threat of death by disease could convince these die hard omnivores to rethink what’s on their plate. Anyone, famous or not, who tried to make a dietary change were ridiculed by freedom loving omnivorous family members and friends and , if they were famous, also by the mainstream media who labeled them as loony, and even, as in the case of Oprah, were sued by the food industry itself. None of the above persons, no matter how convincing, could effect any major change among the masses. The only people left who could make the change were the omnivores, and not just any omnivore, those who are part of the mainstream media; the very media that ridiculed everyone else in the past for warning us about food and for going on all those crazy diets.
This film does not present a new message. It presents a timely message from the last group of people, the omnivores, who finally admit that there is something wrong with our food. When it has finally reached this point, then a major shift has occurred: the conventional factory farming food industry has become so pervasive and destructive that it is now limiting the freedom of our own food choices everywhere. In other words, you can now find more freedom and more variety in organic health food stores and restaurants than you can at regular supermarkets and fast food restaurants in spite of the difference in sizes and numbers of locations. The balance of freedom has shifted. But not only that our very existence as a species is now threatened by the practices of conventional factory farmed food industry.
Go see this film and go change your eating, if you haven’t done so already. You will be more free and a better omnivore than before. If your work helps or promotes conventional factory farm practices, then quit and start working for the organic food industry. Please. Not only will it help you, but it will help me too. My life, my freedom and my welfare depends on it as much as yours does and so do the lives and freedoms of our children as well. I thank you in advance for doing so. I greatly appreciate it.
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