By now, you’ve probably all heard about the new film Food, Inc. directed by Robert Kenner. (And if you haven’t, it will be my pleasure to introduce it to you.) The documentary about our nation’s food supply has been released in selected theaters in the U.S., and will have a wider release within the next month.
From all I’ve heard, the film is like a cross between the two most influential food journalism books of the last decade, The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Fast Food Nation, and the documentary film The Future of Food. It even features frequent voice overs by Pollan and Schlosser.
The Washington Post ran an interview with Rober Kenner, the film’s director, in yesterday’s paper. I loved a couple of Kenner’s point blank answers to the criticism the film’s received from giant agribusiness, and thought I’d share some excerpts from the interview with you:
When asked about the primary message of the film, Kenner responded with this:
There is such a conscious effort to not have us think about where our food comes from. I’m not shocked that agribusinesses denied me access to their plants. But they go to great lengths to continue to deliver this image that food is like it’s always been, when in reality it’s been fundamentally transformed.
Tomatoes look similar but they have no nutritional value and they don’t taste like anything. . . .
I remember the first real tomato I ever ate. I was an adult, at a street market in Cusco, Peru. We’d bought the tomatoes off an aging Quechua indian lady. It looked like any tomato I might have bought at a supermarket in the U.S., but when I cut into it and took a bite, it was like a party in my mouth. The flavor was as concentrated as the best sun-dried tomatoes I’d ever had. Yet this was a fresh tomato, picked off a vine somewhere in the Peruvian mountains less than 24 hours before.
The idea that our food is like it’s always been is pure fantasy. Like Kenner said, “in reality, it’s been fundamentally transformed.” If his film can really help people see that, then it’ll be my new favorite food documentary!
Here’s a bit more from the interview:
Monsanto argues that industrial food is necessary. Population is expected to double and without technology millions will starve.
The Union of Concerned Scientists dispute their yield results. A number of farmers I spoke to felt Monsanto yields weren’t necessarily greater. I can’t answer whether they are or they aren’t. I’m not an expert. But the Union of Concerned Scientists is a legitimate operation.
The other answer is people are starving now. We’re not feeding the world now and the system that exists now is a totally unsustainable system. It’s based on gasoline and pollution and it cannot go on.
What do you say to critics who label you elitist? Some argue that if we change the system, food will be more expensive.
Right now it’s elitist to think we can create a system where the food we feed a poor family makes them so sick that they need medicine for diabetes. There’s something wrong with a system that makes food that makes them sick.
What action do you want people to take?
One thing is that people say to me, “I’ll never eat chicken again.” And that’s not what I intended. What I intend is that there’s a system that’s bad. Your tomatoes are as bad as your chicken. The whole system is industrialized. You don’t need to tell them the dark side of every item. And you don’t have to stop eating foods you love. You can eat chicken, but try not to eat industrial food.
Is there one thing you’ll never eat again?
This film is really about connecting the dots of the whole industrial system. But if there’s one thing, it would have to be strawberries sprayed with pesticides. We saw people in the field with hazmat suits. The fact that there are people that have to wear those to grow food is really incredible.
And, here’s a trailer for the movie:
(photo by Darren Copley)