Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Food, Inc. - Hungry for Change

It is almost time for our state’s annual farmers' market conference and I am so excited. Last year, we started a farmers’ market in our town and it was a blast. I got to sell our garden extras and bond with people who are like-minded when it comes to growing and eating healthy, nutritious food. It is amazing what you can learn sitting around with a farmer on a Saturday morning. These are some of the most wonderful people I know, they know what is important in life and are not consumed with an over-scheduled, keep up with the Joneses lifestyle.

So, that brings me to my latest recommendation: go rent Food, Inc. TODAY. Really, don’t wait, get on Netflix and put it in your queue or pick it up at your local movie rental store.

After Big Buckaroo and I got married 10 years ago, he started talking about a man named Joel Salitan and his Polyface Farm, a family owned, multi-generational, pasture-based, beyond organic, local-market farm and informational outreach in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. We bought all his books and a video of that he made of his farm and devoured them. So, I had read many books and articles that talked about what is included in this documentary. I also saw this which I blogged about on Oprah a while back that hit on some of the same things. But, watching Food, Inc. will change the way you view those little chicken nuggets you pick up on the way home for your kiddos.

One of the main messages from this film is to educate yourself where your food comes from. It is not as simple as it seems either. The government and giant food companies work very hard so that we have no idea what happened to the food before it got to our plate. Film Producer Robert Kenner did an amazing job at uncovering the veil that has been placed in front of us for so long.

The movie was what I expected it would be: Incredibly thought-provoking, sad, horrifying, very emotional…yet inspiring.

Here are some of the important issues touched on by the film:
Factory Farming: Approximately 10 billion animals (chickens, cattle, hogs, ducks, turkeys, lambs and sheep) are raised and killed in the US annually. Nearly all of them are raised on factory farms under inhumane conditions. These industrial farms are also dangerous for their workers (they frequently get infections), pollute surrounding communities (manure, anyone?), are unsafe to our food system and contribute significantly to global warming.

Pollution: The average food product travels about 1,500 miles to get to your grocery store. Transporting food accounts for 30,800 tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year.

Cloning: In January 2008, the FDA approved the sale of meat and milk from cloned livestock, despite the fact that Congress voted twice in 2007 to delay FDA’s decision on cloned animals until additional safety and economic studies could be completed.

Pesticides: Cancers, autism and neurological disorders are associated with the use of pesticides especially amongst farm workers and their communities.

Genetic Engineering: Some of our most important staple foods have been fundamentally altered, and genetically engineered meat and produce have already invaded our grocery stores and our kitchen pantries. Today, 45% of U.S. corn and 85% of U.S. soybeans are genetically engineered under a government-regulated system. In the 2008 election cycle, the food industry donated $65 million to candidates for federal office.

As consumers, we have the power to influence the market. If there is a demand for organic, sustainable, and plant-based products- the super companies will deliver. Wal-Mart now carries many organic products because there is a demand for it. Don’t be naive, I personally don’t think Wal-Mart cares about me in particular…but it is all about the bottom dollar for these super companies. If we demand it they will produce it.
Remember, farmers' markets are popping up everywhere! What a wonderful way to buy local and fresh, meet the farmer who actually grew the food you will put on your table.

We can harp all we want about Big Food, but until we start teaching ourselves and our children how food grows and where it comes from, we are fighting an uphill battle. Every time you eat, you are voting for the type of food that you want to see on the store shelves.

Have you seen Food Inc.? What were your thoughts? Did it change how you ate or how you viewed the food industry?
Not wanting a Big Mac (ever again),
The Park Wife


Anonymous said...

Also check out the book Fast Food Nation from 2001. Great insight into the food industry.

Anonymous said...

I am very ignorant about these issues. Perhaps I should look into this movie. :)

David said...

When you add Food, Inc. to your NetFlix que go ahead and throw Super Size Me in there and watch it too, before your next trip McDonald's.

Strawberry Cake said...

WOW! We are on the same page, my husband and I just watched this last week and I have been wanting to post about it, but have not yet gotten the chance. It was not a total surprise, it just reiterated to me that I need to do the extra work to be Mi. it is hard in the winter...I dream of summer and farmer markets. Your post was awesome, thanks!

Arkansas Patti said...

Heading for Netflix now. If nothing else, it sounds disturbing enough to change my eating habits..which could stand an adjustment. Thanks

Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to seeing this movie. I don't know how much I can change my eating habits in big-city China (even in the markets, I think the fruit sellers often have produce from far away, not local - as evidenced by strawberries showing up in late January!)... but it's worth a shot, and I'd like to be a little more educated about it. I do try to preserve some produce when it's actually in-season, though I still don't really know where it comes from when I buy it. Park Wife, do you preserve some of the food you get from the farmer's market and/or grow? Any tips?

(David, I won't watch "Supersize Me," though - I know McD's cheeseburgers and fries are bad for me, but they're my once-in-a-while comfort food when I really need a bit of greasy, flavor-ful chow, and I'm pretty sure if I watch the movie I won't be able to eat there any more!)