Posted by: Jodi | April 20, 2010

Documentary Review: Food, Inc.

Food, Inc.  is not a documentary, it is a shockumentary.  Its sole purpose is to make the viewer so outraged at the content that they react.  It has done a very good job defending its position, using ominous music, blanket statements meant to frighten, and footage that’s not easily understood by the public.  This documentary is the principle reason my brother decided to become a militant vegetarian.  My response was anger, not at the food, but at the mismanagement of so many industries on so many levels.

The message:  foods such as meats, soy, and corn are no longer produced in a way that is healthy for the people who eat it, the workers who make it, or the planet that produces it.  Their goal is to force encourage people to buy locally, buy organic, and support businesses that do the same.

It’s a great message, I can’t deny that.  It’s the delivery that bothered me.  I’m an Animal Science major, none of the information about how meats are produced is new to me.  Do I think feed lots, antibiotics,  and mass production facilities are an ideal way of producing food?  Heck no.  But it’s the only way of producing it at the prices that people have come to demand.  In my opinion, it comes down to a money issue – not a food issue.  Mass produced food is cheaper.

The documentary  talked about how some families, due to limited funds and hectic schedules, feel forced to eat fast food because they can feed their families a meal cheaply.  They showed this poor family standing bewildered in the produce section deciding not to buy pears because they could only get 2 or 3 for a dollar.  They mentioned that their diet has made the father diabetic and he has medications that cost hundreds a month.  This is not a food industry problem, it is an education and health care problem.  You can feed a family a healthy meal for less than is costs to eat fast food.  I do it all the time.

Bringing this into the writing world – when writing do you have a code of ethics?  Are there lines that you will not cross because it would violate what you stand for?  Do you write with an agenda in mind?  Is your goal to change the way your readers view a subject?

All writers should build their own code of ethics, a guide of what they will or will not do and how they will go about it.  This doesn’t need to be a written document, although putting your thoughts down on paper will help clarify exactly what you think.  If you haven’t taken a moment to figure out what your values are when writing, take some time and do it.

Would I recommend “Food, Inc.?”  Sure.  It is well presented and makes a good point.  As long as you understand what the point is going in, you be able to see where they are manipulating the viewer.

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Responses

  1. It is indeed a quandry. I recently saw an episode of “How It’s Made” discussing poultry. It almost drove me back to my semi-vegetarian diet. It may still, but being a person who is not fond of most vegetables makes it difficult.

    A quandry.

    • Just don’t watch how they make hotdogs, that’s a real turn off. I’m surprised that you don’t like veggies. I can’t stand one’s that have been frozen unless they are well hidden in a soup or other dish.

  2. This documentary is on my list to cover in my blog. : )

    First, to answer your questions. My primary goal as a writer is to get people to think about issues . . . I don’t expect them to adopt my view of the world, but I do want them to be a bit more conscious in the choices they make.

    Second, you’re right ~ it is about money. But, that statement doesn’t really go far enough.

    When the REAL COST (to animals, our health, and the planet) is factored into the equation . . . mass produced food is definitely NOT cheaper.

    Third, you’re right ~ we need more education. When people educate themselves, they realize they can eat economically and far more healthfully than they do right now by switching to a LESS-MEAT or MEAT-LESS diet ~ improving their lives, the lives of animals, and the planet in the process.

    It is increased demand that pushes the food industry to cut corners.

    When the demand for beef drops, we can go back to raising cows in a humane manner. Same goes for chickens and hogs.

    Sure, the meat will cost more, but if families only have meat a few times a week (or month) . . . they’ll hardly notice.

    Frankly, I’m more concerned about our ethics as planetary citizens and consumers than I am about the ethics of the more limited pool of writers. : )

    • I thought someone would catch me on that… The planetary concern is far more important than writer’s ethics. But, since this is a writing blog I had to find a way a link into the writing world and talking of ethics seemed the most natural sedge way.

  3. One of the most effective shock scenes for me: the vet sticking his hand inside the stomach of the cow and pulling out undigestable material. Very foul.

    • The device that was installed in the cow is called a fistula and it does look very disturbing the first time you see one. What I caught was that the material the vet was pulling out looked like hay and perhaps silage, but not corn. This means that they used the footage for its shock value alone, trusting that the public wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

  4. […] Documentary Review: Food, Inc.: Review of the Documentary from an ethics perspective […]


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