I did this report on Food, Inc. for my documentary film class.
Food, Inc. talks about how large factories and corporations have changed the food industry, and not necessarily for the better
The twentieth century brought several revolutions in the service of food.
In the 1930’s, car hops were introduced. Customers would drive to restaurant, order their meals, and waiters/waitresses would bring them their meals.
McDonald’s restaurants invented a factory-like system of preparing and serving food. Each employee would be required to do only one thing like cook the burgers, or put toppings on the burger buns. This allowed them to prepare large amounts of food in a short amount of time at a small cost.
In the 1970’s 50 percent of food in grocery stores came from four companies. By the time the documentary was made, that number jumped to 80 percent.
Farms began breeding chickens to grow faster and larger so that more of them could be slaughtered and sold as food. Cows were fed corn in order to get them to grow larger and fatter. This served to maximize profits.
Later on, the farm industry ended up largely under the control of food corporations. Farmers entered into contracts with these companies. The companies then provide the equipment to produce food. Animals such as chickens and cows are often kept in large buildings where huge numbers of them have to exist together in a rather unsanitary and inhumane environment, often having to literally live within their own bodily wastes.
This, however, led to unintended consequences.
Cows who are fed corn produce E. coli in their digestive tracts because their bodies are not biologically programmed to eat corn; they are supposed to eat grass. The unsanitary conditions that animals are kept in from the farms to the slaughterhouses resulted in E. coli occasionally ending up in restaurants and supermarkets. The fact that there are now only 13 slaughterhouses in all of America does not help the matters due to the fact that the factories are so large that it is very hard to prevent the spread of bacteria. The small number of factories also increases the odds of contamination and outbreaks of contamination. In addition, a single, for example, hamburger may be made from several different cows, also increasing the odds of contamination
There have been several cases of people falling ill with food.
One case is that of Kevin Kowalczyk. Barbara Kowalczyk’s two-and-a-half year old son Kevin died of food-poisoning after eating a burger made of contaminated beef.
The beef was not recalled until after his tragic, untimely death. Due to lawsuits from the food industry, the USDA lost the ability to perform inspections of food factories and slaughterhouses and shut them down if they are consistently unable to prevent contaminations.Now, Kowalczyk is lobbying the Federal government to hold food companies accountable for ensuring food safety. “Kevin’s Law” was introduced in Congress to once again allow the USDA to shut food plants that keep on producing meat that is infected. At the time of the production of the documentary, the bill was six years old and due to lobbying from food corporations, still remained unpassed. She shares the pain of her son’s death so that other people will not have to go through the same thing.
More Health Concerns Caused by the Food Industry:
The Gonzalez family consists of a husband, a wife, and two teenage daughters. They struggle with their diets.? Due to their work schedules, they have no time to cook. Not only that, they can barely afford to buy healthy foods from the supermarket. Mrs. Gonzalez’s husband is diabetic, and she fears that he could go blind and lose his ability to help provide for the family. They also struggle with whether to pay for his Mr. Gonzalez’s medication or healthy foods. Therefore, the Gonzalez family has to buy fast food in order to eat. Their older daughter is scared for her father and her younger sister as well due to their diet. Their older daughter attended a teen health summit to talk about health issues that her community faces. Nearly all of the participants in the summit said that they have at least one relative with diabetes, many at least three.
The reason why fast food, candy, soda, and the like are so inexpensive in comparison to fruits and vegetables is because they make use of ingredients that the government heavily subsidizes: wheat, corn, and soybeans. This is why low-income people are more likely to be overweight and obese; they often cannot afford healthy foods. This low cost of unhealthy foods has led to more and more people being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Not only that, more and more CHILDREN AND TEENAGERS are being diagnosed with the disease. At this rate, one third of all Americans born after the year 200 will develop diabetes. Minority Americans will suffer diabetes at rate of 50%.
What Can WE Do About This?
We might think we are powerless, but we are not.
We have to CHOOSE to make the food industry better.
We must only elect officials who are more concerned with the interests of the American people than with the Interests of the food corporations
We need to only support companies that treat animals humanely, workers respectfully, and the environment safely.
Purchase only food that are in-season
Purchase organic foods.
Read Labels and know what you are eating.
Purchase locally grown food.
Visit farmer’s markets.
Grow your own food.
Ask schools to provide healthy lunches.
Hold the government accountable for holding the food industry accountable for keeping food safe.
The director’s goal in the making the film was to expose the unethical, if dangerous practices in the food industry in hopes of inspiring change.
The style is rather diverse. There is some of use of animated diagrams to give statistical information. Most of it involves people in the food industry, farmers and average, every-day Americans who are affected by the issue. There is testimony from a farmer who was once contracted to provide food for a large food company. There is also testimony from scientists who talk about the issues surrounding modern food production. The film also has a personal touch with the aforementioned stories of Barbara Kowalczyk losing her young son Kevin to food-poisoning and her quest for change and the Gonzalez family whose income is having a negative impact on their attempts to be healthy.
As mentioned above, the film offers several suggestions that normal people can take to inspire change in the food industry.