06 March 2010

Review: "Food, Inc."

While The Cove is the scariest film I have seen in a very long time, Food, Inc. frightened me on an entirely different level. The film investigates the American agricultural industry and concludes that their products are harmful to consumers and the environment. As a Canadian I can feel relieved that I can choose homegrown produce, but at the same time I feel horrified that our economy is so heavily influenced by the United States. Food, Inc. was directed by Robert Kenner, whose work has been produced by the National Geographic Society and PBS. His prior films have focused mainly on historical events, such as the Vietnam War (Two Days October (2005)) and Influenza, 1918 (a 1998 documentary about the 1918 flu pandemic). Food, Inc. took three years to make due to legal fees and generated a considerable amount of controversy from many American agricultural companies. It has since been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Food, Inc. looks at the modern American food industry and the drastic changes that have occurred in the past few decades. There is now a greater demand for products and produce is available all year long, opposed to only when in season. The first act of the film focuses on meat production. Chicken farmers raise their chickens in large, overcrowded coops and many companies expect the farmers to pay for expensive upgrades. The film does look at both sides, featuring interviews with farmers who continue to work in the industry and those who refused. The second act of the film investigates the production of grains and vegetables. Many of the products contain corn and corn syrup, and it is astonishing how many products contain some form of corn. Lastly, Food, Inc. looks at the legal issues surrounding these major corporations and how they have grown to be too powerful.

Food, Inc. features interviews with those involved in the agricultural industry and private citizens who have been negatively affected. There is a woman whose young son died because the mass production of meat has led to more cases of food poisoning. She has tried to fight against these corporations with limited success. I was also affected by a young family whose father is suffering from diabetes because a cheeseburger is cheaper than broccoli. There are so many disturbing images and statistics in this film that is unbelievable that it has taken so long for someone to bring it to the public. It is the responsibility of the government to protect its citizens, but it is also our own responsibility to know what we are eating and from where it came.

My rating: 3 stars out of 4.

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