Film Highlight: Food, Inc.

The Orozcos in Food, Inc.
courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

Anyone who has read The Omnivore's Dilemma or Fast Food Nation will experience a strong sense of déjà vu as the film Food, Inc. unfolds. That's because many of the case studies used in this dark look at food production came from those books. Indeed, authors Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser appear throughout the film as talking heads, their placid and jovial manners sometimes undercutting the shocking nature of the material presented. There's nothing jovial about the mother whose two-year-old child dies just days after eating an E. coli-tainted burger. Other tragedies are not as explicit. We meet an Indiana gleaner pursuing the age-old career of scavenging seeds from agricultural detritus so the farmers can plant them the next year. And then we see chemical giant Monsanto hectoring him until his business goes bust, claiming that his activities challenge the so-called intellectual property rights of their genetically engineered seeds, which have contaminated fields all over the state. In between are aerial shots of fields and feed lots, giving the film a pastoral feel, even though one of director Robert Kenner's central points is that our romanticization of farming prevents us from seeing how it has become a malevolent corporate venture. Despite occasional spiritual uplift, the film cultivates a feeling of paranoia as it progresses, so that none of the printed nostrums flashed over the final credits ("You can change the world with every bite") can dispel the notion that we, and the earth, are irretrievably fucked.

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