Food Inc.: A Review

(Originally posted on bcotoronto.com on Jan 26th, 2012)

This week is another documentary review. This time of, “Food Inc” made in 2008. It does a fantastic job of breaking down the way food is produced in America (the vast majority of which applies to Canada). The entire thing is a series of interviews with authors, farmers, lobbyists, and politicians about the separation of consumer and producer.

The introduction takes us through the evolution and development of the fast food industry and how that led us into a world where a handful of companies control the markets on the staple foods in the standard American diet. The detail of how this effects us and the world as a whole (politically, socially, and environmentally) are added on layer by layer in a very clear and easy to grasp manor.

The film does come across as slightly biased until you tally up how many times they tell you that the company they were discussing declined to be interviewed for the movie. Almost every major company they approached refused to speak to them. So of course the footage is a little biased. Still, in that light they definitely do a good job of trying to stick to the facts and not speculate.

At several points they bring out the emotional guns and try to tug on your heartstrings for a good long time. This is something that I really dislike about documentary films. When they use an emotional response from the audience to drive their point home rather than just sticking to the information at hand. I’m not saying that emotion is a bad thing in these films but there’s feeling an emotional connection and then there is using that emotion to stir up a following. I mostly dislike this practice because I fall for it every time and have to continually catch myself saying, “Those bastards killed that child. Let’s march to their head office and string them up by their thumbs!” rather than thinking about the overall damage this company or group has done. Despite this tactic the majority of the movie is filled with excellently documented information, laid out clearly for us.

To be honest, this film has been on my shelf for a long time and I’ve been hesitant to watch it for fear that they would show us all sorts of gruesome slaughter house scenes which would turn me off food for a week but the footage of meat packing plants and slaughter houses were very, for lack of a better word, sterile. There was no undue blood or gore used as shock value.

I quite liked how this film was put together. They covered the topic from all the points of view that I can think of. They did so clearly and with as little bias as possible. I highly recommend this movie to anyone who is interested in nutrition and even those just interested in environmental concerns. This is very eye-opening but does not push past where the facts lead them.

I’m going to leave you with a great quotation from the interview with Michael Pollan in the movie. He is the author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”;

The idea that you would need to write a book telling people where their food came from is just a sign of how removed we’ve become. Seems to me that we’re entitled to know about our food. Who owns it? How are they making it? Can I take a look in the kitchen?

Thanks for reading
Dr. Ben

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