On The Couch #7: Food Inc.

Food Inc. should be on everyone’s must see list. This documentary about how our food is produced in America is as startling as it is enlightening. This is a movie that will scare you more than a Friday the 13th marathon or the prospect of sitting through a Celine Dion concert.

The hypocrisy of our food producers are laid bare; they advertise “farm fresh,” but what we’re really consuming is generated at a place more akin to a factory assembly line. And the factory isn’t pretty. Cows, pigs and chickens are bred in such close quarters that they’re walking around in their own excrement. They’re cleaned at the slaughterhouse, but living a life of spending your days in their own feces seems to reveal why cases of e. coli and salmonella have risen so much over the years. If an infected cow is taking a dump at the feet of non-infected cows, it’s no surprise that infection spreads.

It will also make you look at hamburgers in a while new light. According to the movie, a single hamburger patty can have the meat of 1,000 cows in it, any of which might be infected with something. 1,000 cows! This didn’t scare me into becoming a vegetarian, but I might look a little more leery at my hamburger next time I’m at 5 Guys.

10,000 cows?

Another startling piece of information learned from watching Food Inc. is just how big a part corn plays in our food consumption. Corn, or a derivative of it, is used someway in about 90% of what you’ll find on your supermarket shelves. The main reason for this is that corn is subsidized to the point that it’s cheaper to buy it than it is to produce it. Corn is the main ingredient used in the feed of not only our livestock, but now also in farmed fish. When you get down to it, we’re becoming corn.

Like the previous night’s movie District 9, Food Inc. shows that when left unregulated by the government, big corporations show little care for human safety or livelihood when dollars are to be made.

Guess which one you had for dinner last night?

But Food Inc. exists not to scare us, but to educate us. The producers do a good job of showing alternatives to the food-factory system. Organic yogurt giant Stonyfield and small scale more naturally oriented livestock farmers are given a chance to show their alternatives to the big, corporate system…even though Stonyfield is now part of the big, corporate system.

Natual chicken farmer Joel Salatin

A final reason to see Food Inc.: Bruce Springsteen’s cover of This Land is Your Land plays during the closing credits. Alright, maybe that’s not a reason to see it, but it’s a nice bonus at the end.
Food Inc. continues Oscar week here at Tuesday Night Movies. It’s nominated for Best Documentary this year. I haven’t seen the other movies in that category, but this one is great, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it wins on Sunday.

Go out and rent Food Inc. If you have Netflix, it’s available for instant streaming. Just eat before you watch Food Inc., because you might not want to afterwards.

Okay, this is just scary.