“Our nation’s food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment.” -Food Inc. website
In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner and author Eric Schlosser uncover aspects of the U.S. food industry, revealing the industrialized weaknesses hidden from the American consumer. Michael Pollan, the burgeoning household name and genius behind Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food, is featured throughout the film discussing the overabundance of pesticides and chemicals used in farming, genetically modified chickens, why cows shouldn’t be fed corn, and the re-engineering of corn and soy into fast food, junk food, and practically every non-perishable on the shelf. All coinciding with now epidemic levels of Obesity and Type 2 diabetes in adults and children.
The reaction of this film had everyday Americans (and even Oprah) questioning where our food is coming from, the politics behind it, the government subsidies, and what is ultimately best for our body and the environment. Documentary film is becoming the current creative outlet for such answers.
Last night I watched the new Chris Taylor documentary, Food Fight (available on demand). The film looks at how American agricultural policy and food culture developed in the modern industrialized world and how the California food movement created a counter culture against it, in particular, how Alice Waters started a food revolution by opening Chez Panisse restaurant in 1971. The film highlights the average consumer grocery store availability as twofold, 1. fruits and vegetables cultivated for ease of shipping that are tasteless, bland and often out of season and 2. over processed foods that are leading to the aforementioned epidemic levels of Obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Alice Waters along with Michael Pollan, Wolfgang Puck, Jeremiah Tower and Dan Barber are among the people who created the local, seasonal food movement. Over 30 years later their ideas have become mainstream. Today, restaurants across the country emphasize local seasonal fare and many individuals prepare home cooked dinners with food from their local farmers markets.
If you live in a city/town where there are local farmers markets and you can afford to buy wholesome food and eat at boutique restaurants serving local and seasonal fare, you are fortunate. Regrettably this is only the case for a restricted number of Americans. Healthy food can be costly, farmers markets have limited accessibility and climate in many areas prevents a year round abundance of crops. With community gardens, indoor greenhouses and initiatives such as Will Allen’s, hopefully we can reverse this, because the real goal is to make healthy eating available and affordable for all.
Next on the list, the documentaries:
Egg, Fresh and Water