Food, Inc. Review
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It’s enjoyable and life-sustaining. It’s often at the center of social gatherings. It’s sometimes an art form and a mode of creative expression. It even has its own TV network. But when it comes to its growth and production, food is also a pretty controversial subject. Ever since Upton Sinclair first published The Jungle in 1906, writers, journalists, and filmmakers have produced eye-opening books, articles, reports, and documentaries exposing the horrors of the meatpacking industry…or the dangers of pesticides…or the health risks involved in eating too much junk food. But while many of them have been alarming, few have been as moving—and even life-changing—as Robert Kenner’s documentary, Food, Inc.

In this candid documentary, Kenner shows how, over the last 50 years or so, food production in America has changed drastically. Once a system of independent farmers providing food for nearby communities, it’s now a system of corporate contracts and factory assembly lines.

  
 
Throughout the film, Kenner explains several areas of concern, touching on various challenges facing the industry (as well as the farmers and the consumers) today. He interviews businessmen, suppliers, farmers, and politicians. He takes viewers inside meatpacking plants and crowded chicken houses. He offers the pros and (mostly) the cons of the new system, and he explores some of the consequences.

Food, Inc. presents the facts in a simple, straightforward manner. There aren’t any theatrics or fire-and-brimstone sermons or flashy presentations—just farmers, factories, and the occasional hidden camera.

So why is Food, Inc. so moving? So life-changing? What makes it stand out from all the other films on the same topic? It’s in the film’s simple but convincing manner. It’s in the variety of stories from normal people—people who work the land, people who see the process first-hand, and people whose lives have been touched by the system’s failures. And, most importantly, it’s in the simple solutions that the film offers. Instead of presenting a bunch of disturbing facts and offering no solutions, leaving viewers feeling helpless and overwhelmed, Kenner actually suggests ways that anyone can help. You don’t have to take on big business or lobby Congress—just pay attention, do a little homework, and check out the organic options the next time you’re shopping at Wal-Mart.

This eye-opening documentary may not convince you to go vegan. After seeing it, you probably won’t find yourself driving hours out of your way to buy locally-raised organic chicken—and you probably won’t give up fast food cold-turkey. But you’ll leave the theater feeling inspired—and empowered—to make a change…even if it’s just a small one. And that small change in a theater full of moviegoers can make a big difference.

Food, Inc. may not make for a wildly entertaining night out at the movies. You might even prefer to pretend it doesn’t exist. After all, ignorance is bliss, right? And, as the film points out, it’s cheaper to order a quick snack from the dollar menu than it is to buy organic carrots. But you owe it to yourself—and your family—to give Robert Kenner a couple of hours of your time.

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