UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds
Courtesy of Participant Media

Food, Inc.

Hard-hitting documentary sets out to empower us as consumers

By Chantal Braganza

Food, Inc.
Directed by Robert Kenner
(Participant Media) 

Be sure to enjoy your last meal before watching Food, Inc. It may be a little while before you want to dine again.

In step with the conscious eating movement, co-producers Robert Kenner and Eric Schlosser have produced a documentary that reveals some shocking facts about the industry that keeps us fed. Did you know, for example, that each year 76 million Americans are sickened by a food-borne illness, that the average product in your supermarket bears a 1,500-mile travel tag or that migrant workers are regularly exploited by the meat-packing industry?

Fans of Fast Food Nation, Schlosser’s bestseller on the American fast-food industry, or Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma will be familiar with a lot of the issues explored in this hard-hitting documentary. In a lot of ways, it’s like watching a book turned into a movie. On the negative side, the documentary covers too much material to look at any one issue in depth, and both Schlosser and Pollan figure a little too prominently for balance of opinion.

However, the evidence they present benefits from the advantage of film. Factory-farmed chickens, for example, are all the more disturbing when you see how they’re produced: thousands of fat white birds crammed together in windowless huts, stepping in their own feces and over the bodies of their fellow dead. Because they have been genetically modified to grow in half the natural time and gain twice the weight, their bone structures are weak, often resulting in broken legs. “But,” as one farmer asks, “if you can grow a chicken in 49 days, why would you want one you can grow in three months?”

From factory farming to public health issues to the real cost behind cheap food, Food, Inc. is at times hard to watch because often it’s us, the viewers and consumers, who are the problem. “The average consumer does not feel very powerful, but it’s the exact opposite,” says Gary Hirshberg, CEO of Stonyfield Yogurt and one of the sources interviewed in the film. “When we run an item past the scanner at the supermarket, we’re voting.” 

Food, Inc. isn’t about guilt-tripping viewers into changing their diet completely. Rather, it sets out to inform and empower us as consumers, which is something entirely more palatable.

Author's photo
Chantal Braganza is a writer and editor in Toronto. Her blog posts will appear every second Friday of the month.
Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!

Environment

Song leader, police and gate blockers in front of the Kinder Morgan gates. Photo by Kimiko Karpoff

A Kinder Morgan protest in photos and song

by Kimiko Karpoff

A faith leader reflects on protesting the pipeline with the Water Protectors from the Tsleil-Waututh nation.

Promotional Image

Editorials

The United Church Observer's editor and publisher, Jocelyn Bell. Photo: Lindsay Palmer

Observations: #MeToo

by Jocelyn Bell

Our hope is that by giving voice to these #MeToo stories, a new conversation about sexual misconduct can begin.

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: Playing by Heart

by Observer Staff

United Church music director Kara Shaw was born prematurely, became almost totally blind and was later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Today, the 28-year-old showcases her unique musical ability, performing piano on local and national stages.

Promotional Image

Society

June 2018

Why some women of colour are hesitant to say #MeToo

by Jacky Habib

Three women share their stories in the hope of creating safe spaces they never had.

Environment

May 2018

A Kinder Morgan protest in photos and song

by Kimiko Karpoff

On April 28, 2018, faith leaders from many traditions, including the United Church, stood in solidarity with Water Protectors from the Tsleil-Waututh nation to protest the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion in Burnaby, B.C.. Kimiko Karpoff captured the day in pictures.

Faith

June 2018

After 93 years, this will be the United Church's last General Council meeting

by Mike Milne

When the United Church meets in July, top priorities will be a streamlined governance structure and Indigenous ministries.

Justice

June 2018

#MeToo in the United Church

by Trisha Elliott

9 women share their stories of harassment and sexual assault in the United Church.

Columns

May 2018

On grief and the healing power of gardening

by Paul Fraumeni

A writer reflects on how growing tomatoes is helping him find peace while dealing with the loss of loved ones, including his son.

Editorials

June 2018

Observations: #MeToo

by Jocelyn Bell

Our hope is that by giving voice to these #MeToo stories, a new conversation about sexual misconduct can begin.

Promotional Image