Friday, August 10, 2012

Food, Inc.

I'm a bit behind the times, but I finally got around to watching the 2008 documentary Food, Inc. It's a great film. If you haven't seen it you can catch it here. Most of the topics discussed were not new to me, but it was interesting nonetheless.

This film discusses the industrialization of our nation's food production. We've moved from small family farms to giant corporation owned farms, focused on mass production. The goal is more food, faster, and cheaper. Unfortunately, this progress often comes at the expense of nutrition. The government subsidies of corn and soybeans make it cheaper to eat meat (from animals fed corn and soy), and high calorie processed junk, than it is to eat nutritious, seasonal, fresh fruits and veggies.

While I agree that the industrialization of agriculture has had a lot of negative effects (as the film illustrates), I think the film present a somewhat limited perspective. Industrialization has had many benefits. It has allowed us to produce enough food to support our rapidly growing population, using less farmland, without making food prohibitively expensive. This is a great thing, but it has come at a cost. How can we improve the problems without losing the benefits of industrialization?

The film also points out the failure of the government and the FDA to regulate the food industry. The food industry has powerful lobbyists (and plenty of money) fighting against regulation. And, so far they have been successful, to the detriment of the American people. It's about time that our politicians stand up for the people they represent, instead of protecting the food industry, and pass legislation intended to improve food safety and nutrition.

One thing that struck me was a comparison of the tobacco industry to the food industry. Consumers pushed for regulation of the tobacco industry, and therefore should be able to do the same with food. While I think this is a good point, this comparison seems a bit flawed. Cigarettes are terrible (for everyone). But, food is more complicated. Everyone needs to eat. Yes, it's better to eat healthy, nutritious foods. But, that is not the only factor. Cost, and convenience need to be factored in. While I have the luxury of being able to choose healthy groceries with little regard to price, for some struggling families this is an impossibility. In the short term healthy choices often don't seem like the best option. How do we change this?

Have you seen this film? What were your thoughts?

*If you are interested in the topic check out a similar documentary I blogged about a month ago: The Weight of the Nation.


  1. Hi Krissy, I own this video on the recommendation of a family member. It opened my eyes to federal farm subsidies in a way I did not understand before. It has a lot of valid points (the DVD). Go to most fast food restaurants and you can buy a burger for 99 cents and a salad for $4.99 Is it any wonder we are a nation of fat people? That said, BIG corporations exist to make large sums of money. If every Walmart shopper told the managers they demanded organic veggies and only grass fed meat on the shelves or they (the shoppers) would take their cash or their food cards and spend them elsewhere...then Walmart would put plenty of organic veggies and only grass fed meat on their shelves. That would in turn bring down the price of organic foods and grass fed beef, because Walmart is so friggin huge. They (Walmart) exist to give the customers what they want. Consumerism is what made America who we are. Sorry for the long comment.

    1. Don't apologize, long comments are always appreciated (and short ones too). Yes, it's amazing how cheap the calories are at fast food restaurants. I agree that as consumers we have to demand healthier choices. I think part of the problem is that many people don't understand how important healthy eating is or have enough education to understand what they should be eating. This is where I think the government has a responsibility to subsidize healthy food and insist on food labels that make it easy for people to understand what they are eating.