A Lotus Grows in Brooklyn

Food, Inc.
June 18, 2009, 2:14 pm
Filed under: Arts, Green Links, Vegan | Tags: , , , ,

Food inc

I finally saw Food, Inc. last night at Film Forum. There is much to say and little time, so here are some quickies:

1) Go see this film! Tell other people to see this film! Especially those who still eat at McDonald’s without wondering what exactly is in their burger or where it came from.

pollan2) I’d say 60% to 75% of the material is straight out of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan, who acts as one of the two narrators/expert consultants, along with Eric Schlosser of “Fast Food Nation.” This isn’t a bad thing, as I loved Pollan’s book—it changed my entire thinking about food. In fact, you should go out and read it right now! (Then see the movie.)

3) The film functions as a collection of mini-documentaries, and each one is so fascinating that it could be deepened into its own film. That’s one of my criticisms of the movie, actually: it covers so much that you really only get the highlights of any one issue, the most spectacular sound bites, but not all the facts to back them up. Having read much on this subject, I know that the facts are there, but I fear that their absence leaves the film open for critics to say it sensationalizes.

32oz-FF-OrgPlain4) The problem of how a small organic farm or company deals with success and manages growth is fascinating. The film depicts the founder of Stonyfield Farm, which began as a tiny hippie company and now sells to Wal-Mart and is the No. 3 yogurt producer in the United States. The founder gets flak from his “more radical” friends for being a sell-out, but it’s a real question how a values-driven company can grow without losing its heart and vision.  Note, by the way,  this nifty chart I found the other day of the organic brands that have been acquired by giant food conglomerates. Who’s to know what that then means for how these companies are run and how much they stand by their commitments?

22339745_400x4005) I felt like many of the arguments stopped just short of preaching vegetarianism or veganism, even though when followed logically to their conclusion, that’s where they would have ended up. (For instance, if we’re talking about reducing the carbon imprint of our food, the greatest step would be to consume less meat.) But I understand that perhaps the filmmakers wanted to appeal to the broadest public and not make demands that viewers would see as extreme. And it’s not like Schlosser or Pollan are veggies, by any means. But still … I wish it might have been mentioned.

6) This is an important movie, but I do worry that it is preaching to the choir if only people like me go see it. Unless it becomes mega-big, like “An Inconvenient Truth,” I don’t know how much change it will be able to effect. On the other hand, if even a few people who see it change their habits as a result, that’s great. If many others like me go and get inspired to commit even further to the movement, then that’s wonderful, too. So I guess it’s all positive.

7) Most importantly, though, I left this movie feeling excited, uplifted, and inspired. It was like when I left “Milk” and was re-energized as a gay-rights activist. The movie ends on a positive note and lays out clear takeaways—actions you can take now to make a difference. The point is that the big companies will change their ways if consumers demand it; there’s a very “power to the people” message here. We can change the world! And here’s a sampling of how (paraphrased from memory):

  • bfbl_5c_02By local. Buy organic. Buy in season.
  • Read labels: Know what you’re eating.
  • Plant a garden (even if it’s small).
  • Advocate for healthy school lunches.
  • Tell Congress that food safety is important to you.

Here are more.


2 Comments so far
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The Bruce Springsteen song at the end is a tear-jerker.

Comment by fictionadvocate

When the wrestler died, I cried.

Comment by Klaus

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