Friday, June 12, 2009

Responding to Morning Edition and "Food, Inc."

My original post with the link to the broadcast is here.

Here's a link to the trailer (it won't embed for some reason) here

The film, Food, Inc., premiered last week in NY and comes out today in select theaters in NY, LA and SF. It will be here in Boston (Cambridge, actually) on June 19 at Kendall Square Cinema. As a reader of Michael Pollan and a supporter of locavorism, organic food, humane and sustainable agriculture, I am eager to see this film. It looks like it will be a good depiction of some of the wisdom found in Pollan's books put into an audio-visual format. 

There is a book, here, which I haven't read yet. Might have to be next on my list.

In the broadcast, which featured a brief interview with author, Michael Pollan, and the film's director, Robert Kenner, I didn't exactly learn anything that I didn't already know from The Omnivore's Dilemma or In Defense of Food, but a few points from the exchange are worth noting:
  •  the lives of animals in industrial farming are half as long as they used to be before CAFOs and are far more brutal.
  • most of these farms employ illegal immigrants who are easily exploited -- just like the animals.
  • 90% of Americans say they want some kind of GMO labeling on their food, yet Congress has yet to engage such legislation because of the lobbying success of the big seed companies and food factories (like Monsanto).
Critics of the film and industry spokespeople will make such defenses: that this kind of intense agriculture provides, "a lot of food on a small amount of land for a good price. Now, what could be wrong with that?" Pollan counters this argument well in pointing out that while the industry has been successful in meeting these objectives, they come at a cost -- a cost to our health, to our integrity and values as a nation and to our environment. Industrial farming uses tons of fossil fuels (and I don't need to elaborate on the need to be critical of this, I believe), and lots of antibiotics and genetically-modified organisms. It promotes worker abuse and exploitation of migrant workers. It abuses animals. Furthermore, the fact that the individual industries are self-policing prevents any real oversight and breeds an insular culture of cynicism.

In my follow-up to this post, I'll be discussing my favorite rules from Pollan's In Defense of Food. 

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