Food, Inc. DVD Review

I’m lovin’ it.
Food that is.
Fast food, slow food, healthy food and – of course – the not so healthy kind.
But how much love does the food industry have for us?
That’s the question Food, Inc. sets out to answer.
Directed by Robert Kenner and nominated in the Documentary Feature category at this year’s Oscars, Food, Inc. is an investigation into the modern methods used by the American food industry.

And the consequences this has on every level of our food chain.
It starts out with that paragon of culinary expertise in the west; McDonald’s.
Back in the fifties, the McDonald brother’s came up with an ingenious idea for their restaurant’s; the application of factory line techniques to the way they made food.
Ingenious for them and their profit margins, less so for their employees and customers.

Those McDonald boys realised that by making their kitchen staff responsible for a single part of making a hamburger, they could do away with skilled workers and save money.
Not only that, they managed to reduce the power of their employee’s at a stroke.

For when a job consists of repeatedly doing something very simple, it’s easy to train most anyone to do this.
And replacing them is just as easy.
There’s no doubting the business acumen of this idea mind; and the McDonald’s were savvy enough to pass on some of these savings to their customers.

Which only served to accelerate their popularity.
Of course, no one really needs to be told that fast food’s bad for you anymore.

Thanks to Morgan Spurlock, not to mention that sixth sense we all commonly misplace, only the most poorly educated soul could claim ignorance of the negative effects fast food has on our health.
What people may not be so aware of is the food industry took note of the commercial success these factory line restaurants enjoyed.

And adopted the very same principles to the way they produced food.

Food, Inc. sets about lifting the veil on these practices, which the food industry has spent a lot of money trying to conceal.

The consequences for animals, employees and consumers are brought to light in a harrowing yet sober depiction of industrialised food practices.

It’s only when Food, Inc. attempts to portray the human casualties of an industry obsessed with profit, such as the death of a boy who ate contaminated meat, that it feels heavy handed and loses a little resonance.
As with most documentaries, Food, Inc. is heavy on the talking heads format that can feel a little samey after a while.

But then not all film is designed to entertain or distract its audience from reality.

And when a topic as worthy of discussion as that of Food, Inc. is brought to the table, it’s hard to begrudge a little sermonising in the spirit of increased awareness.
The overwhelming message of Food, Inc. is clear; the industrialisation of the way we consume food has been engineered to financially benefit wealthy food suppliers.

To the detriment of all other aspects of our food chain.
Whether that’s the animals, the workers, us – the consumers – or our very planet itself.
We are all paying for their affluence.

Ok, that’s pretty depressing.
So here’s the good news; we get to choose whether to keep this system or not.
Because the food industry is more interested in money than anything else, they will change if we stop buying their products.
But not before.
So support organic, locally sourced food and farmer’s markets whenever you can.

Organisation’s that place the welfare of animals, the land and you above making as much profit as they possibly can.
That’s an idea I’m lovin’ right now.

Jonathan Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

November 2010