What's the truth about the food we eat?
It's sad to think that my family has to even ask this question, but most of the food on our plate does not come from our garden. Most of the food on any given plate in the US has traveled at least 1500 miles. According to Food, Inc., the documentary, that is. The movie opens with the statement that our food has changed more in the last 50 years than the last several thousand years. Eek.
In Food, Inc. filmmaker Robert Kenner "exposes America's industrialized food system and its effect on our environment, health, economy and workers' rights," Food, Inc. official website.
Not only does the film expose the American food system, but its website offers suggestions for how we can make a difference. Learn about:
- "Healthy Eating: 30 million Americans are obese. High calorie, sugar laden processed foods coupled with our sedentary lifestyles is growing our waistlines and contributing to serious health issues like diabetes, heart ailments and cancers.
- Pesticides: Cancers, autism and neurological disorders are associated with the use of pesticides especially amongst farm workers and their communities. Learn about what pesticides are in your food and their effects.
- Foodbourne Illness: In Food, Inc. we meet Barbara Kowalcyk, whose 4 year old son died from E.coli poisoning after eating a hamburger. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 76 million Americans are sickened, 325,000 are hospitalized and 5,000 die each year from foodborne illnesses.
- 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, pollute surrounding communities, are unsafe to our food system and contribute significantly to global warming.
- Farm Worker Protection: Workers are fighting for social justice in labor laws, access to drinking water, health care, housing and economic development.
- Environmental Impact: Did you know that the average food product travels about 1,500 miles to get to your grocery store? And that 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.
- 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.
- Nutritional Labels: Ever wondered how many calories are in your restaurant food? Most restaurants don’t list the actual nutritional value of their food. Listing calories on menus in chain restaurants is an easy way to educate consumers about calorie content to help them make the healthiest choice.
As we talked over quinoa, chips and pumpkin seeds, I asked Jeff if Food, Inc. inspired him. He gave me an answer I was not expecting. Not only did it inspire him to think about making better food choices, it inspired him to think about campaign finance. How does that have anything to do with food, you ask?
What you watch for an hour and a half is a little about everything involved in our food system, including how politics and capitalism have influenced the food being produced and sold.
I highly recommend this film to everybody. I learned a lot from it--from singular facts to the big picture. I consider myself a fairly educated consumer, and I still learned a lot from watching Food, Inc. and I hope you do, too.