Good Flick for a Gray Day – Food, Inc.

Posted in Susan Fekety on July 20th, 2009
Unless otherwise noted, © Copyright 2009 by Susan Fekety. All Rights Reserved.

“What movie did you see? Was it any good?” asked the gal who took my money in the parking structure adjacent to the theater. “Food, Inc.!” I said. “Pretty good!” I said. “Oh, yeah! That one looks cute!” she replied.

Well, um, no – this film is sure enough NOT “cute.” But don’t let that stop you.

When summer comes, I’m always torn….do something outside? Or sit in a dark room for two hours? A total no-brainer, particularly when the weather is decent – but lately it’s been perniciously dreary and all my inside chores are pretty much done, so I decided I’d check out for a while. Went to a matinee, even — SO decadent!

On YOUR next rainy afternoon, after you rearrange your sweaters maybe, consider checking this one out. Food, Inc. is a documentary born of a collaboration between Eric Schlosser (the Fast Food Nation guy,) and Robert Kenner (a filmmaker guy I hadn’t heard of before,) and which features a lot of footage of Michael Pollan (the Omnivore’s Dilemma guy,) who it’s too bad he’s married because I have a total crush on him: a brilliant writer and major foodie politico hero to boot!

My guess (indeed, my fervent hope) is that if you’re looking at my blog, you already know a lot of the stuff in this film. Goodness knows, in our FirstLine Therapy? weekly group meetings, conversation frequently wends its way around to our food culture and the industrial/political context of the food choices we’re making – and changing. Junk food, industrial agriculture, inhumane feedlot practices, cheap corn and germs and sugar in everything, etc. It’s not pretty – awareness about these issues puts a whole new charge on a trip to the supermarket.

Still, I’d wager that you’ll learn new stuff from this movie, too. For me, the visual imagery was more evocative than words, and there is a powerful personal-ness to hearing ordinary humans tell their food stories, to being able to watch their faces and read their body language. And I’m positive that that’s precisely the point.

I wouldn’t take kids to see this movie; a mature teen could probably handle it. There are quite a few feedlot scenes and up close and personal sequences of animals being killed. (One of the most powerful points of the film is that it is necessary to lift the veil that separates us as consumers from the reality of where our food comes from, and as uncomfortable as that makes me, I have to agree.) Still, I sat tense in this movie, wondering when they were going to show another creature die. I kept thinking about my kitty-cat at home, and all I could tolerate for dinner that night was a veggie burger from O’Natural’s. Food, Inc. might be easier to watch on DVD in a few months – but then you’d miss the beauty of the farm scenes and the nuances of people’s faces. So big screen, grownups only, tough it out.

Food, in pretty much any context, carries a big emotional load for most of us. Not surprisingly, I spent a good portion of the movie on the brink of tears, either broken-hearted by the personal tragedies, frustrated by the enormity of it all, or gratefully delighted by the candor and courage of some of the featured food advocates. If you eat food in America, this flick is an emotional roller-coaster for a day when you can’t get on a real one.

Even though virtually nobody from the food industry was willing to be interviewed, I found that the film-makers covered areas of controversy in a pretty balanced way. Are we looking for quality or quantity – and do we really need to decide between those things? Why are chips cheaper than carrots, and Coke cheaper than water? Hmmmm…..

I’ll be shopping the Farmer’s Market in the morning – you bet!

Here’s a link to the website and trailer: