Monday, June 29, 2009

Surprise! Your Food System is Unsustainable

"Food, Inc." is a very well-done, well-intentioned, informative film, and if you've done any sort of reading about the American food system over the past five years, you don't need to see it.

The movie functions as sort of a "greatest hits" of food issues; the film is composed of several segments, each one detailing a different problem. (America is run by corn! Monsanto is evil! Animals are treated badly!) This scattered approach is both its strength and weakness; it'd be an excellent first exposure to these matters for anyone who isn't aware of these issues, but it's much more likely that those who are seeing it are already quite into this stuff and won't get much more out of it. About half of it is pretty much just The Omnivore's Dilemma in movie form, complete with Michael Pollan interviews and a visit to Polyface Farm, and the other half covers the intellectual property issues that were already covered in more detail in The Future of Food. There's also some stuff about how terrible fast food is, featuring Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation. To its credit, the film does conclude with steps you can take to help solve the problem, but it basically boils down to "Buy organic" and "Shop at a farmer's market."

Despite this seemingly negative review, I think Food, Inc. would be a great introduction to these matters for the unaware, but if you've seen/read any of the above materials, it's probably not worth your money to run out and see it. However, if you need a refresher on how fucked up things are, by all means, check it out.

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