Last night I saw the documentary film Food Inc. The film tells the story of how large parts of the American farming industry have become an industrial monster producing diseased, high calorie, unhealthy food and treating both animals and employers like dirt.
One of the biggest culprits of this is the corn industry which is now grown so widely and cheaply by American farmers that it has become a base of almost all the foods on supermarket shelves including even coca cola and batteries. Instead of grass, cows are fed corn in huge industrial farms but because their stomachs are not designed to process it, it has lead to several devastating e-coli breakouts in America from infected burgers which have resulted in the death of young children. The film also covers the way agribusiness giant Montsanto has “copyrighted” soy beans meaning that if farmers are found to be accidentally growing their genetically modified seeds (because of cross pollination in their fields by insects, birds, the wind etc), they are prosecuted. Montsanto have effectively made nature illegal.
The film ends on a positive note however highlighting the rapidly increasing organic farming sector and how consumers are demanding it. Even stores like Walmart have jumped on the bandwagon and have started selling organic food. However, I couldn’t help but feel that Food Inc acts as an advert for the organic food industry which is all very well, as long as the food being grown is genuinely organic. As I investigated in Spain a few years ago here and here, one of the problems with organic farming is that due to cross pollination from non-organic farms, an organic seal of approval on the label is no guarantee that a product is definitely organic.
I highly recommend Food Inc however. Although such industrial farming methods are not as widespread in Europe as they are in the USA (and Europe grows far more organic food than the USA) the film serves as a warning that consumers must constantly be aware of where their food is coming from and demand that both food workers and animals are treated humanely. It might even put you off meat and non-organic food for good – its certainly made me think twice.