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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Food, Inc. (Arts and Leisure)

I just finished watching the movie Food, Inc. which ultimately talked about how much if not all of the food we as Americans eat on a regular basis. I have heard some about where are food comes from, but I was not sure actually what went on with the production, raising, and packaging of our food. I have heard from many people about how the animals conditions that they are raised in before they are slaughtered is no good, and that they are fed food that is not really the best thing for them. I have also heard that the animals and plants are pumped with antibiotics and other chemicals to try to make them more healthy and to grow bigger, faster, and stronger. I also knew that corn is in almost everything that we eat in one form or another. So I figured going into the movie I figured they would talk about many of these issues, but other than that I am in the dark about the food industry.

There were many interesting parts of the movie that I had never heard or seen anything about. One of the major things that struck me as sort of unusual was that none of the major companies in the food industry that were not producing organic food all pretty much declined talking to the cameras. This was interesting for two reasons one it makes it look like they have something to hide from the people maybe some thing that is really wrong. The second is it gives them no opportunity to be the informant about their point of view of how the business works and why they have made some of the decisions about the food the way they did. So they were in my opinion hurt in both ways they could not state their point of view and it leaves the general public room to speculate all of the bad things going on behind the closed doors. It was also interesting to get the farmer's perspective (informant) about the way that the work was being done. It was evident the ones working for these big companies were very careful about what they said and showed to the cameramen because they did not want to lose their job. It was also evident that for most of the farmers that were working for the major food companies it was out of a materialistic reason meaning they did it just so they could get the money to live. It was really evident when one of the farmers said that whatever the consumers truly wanted and would pay for the farmers would make it if it was either the organic or not. There were a few farmers that worked for the companies that would still give the insight to what the life for the animals was. It was seen in a chicken farm that they were packed into quarters that they were right next to each other and were being pumped full of antibiotics and chemically engineered food to make them bigger and grow faster. One sad thing was that due to the fact that they grew much faster than normal their bones and muscles could not keep up so they could not walk but a few steps then would fall down. The movie also showed that there were still some farmers that are trying to grow either the animals or the crops the organic way meaning no chemically enhanced food or anything or pesticides for the crops. These farmers though they try sometimes have it real tough in ways of making a living because the big companies can just sell the food much cheaper than they can. There were also informants from this perspective of the organic farmer and also interestingly enough an organic company. This was interesting to see that there are organic companies that are in some areas just as big as some of the major non-organic companies and it was interesting to hear their perspective. They had other smaller organic people disagreeing with their decisions to be so big and to sell food in Wal-Mart because to most organic people Wal-Mart is the enemy. It was seen though that Wal-Mart would sale the organic food not because of a moral conscience they have, but because the people want organic food and they want to make a profit off of this. I also learned that part of the reason that some of the major food companies can be so careless in the quality of their product is because some of the higher offices of the regulation committees are occupied by someone that is affiliated to the major companies so they don't do anything to hurt the company. The last and most shocking thing that I learned was that in some states it can be a crime to criticize the product of one of the major companies. It was shown that Oprah got in trouble for this very thing. The other thing that goes along with this is that if a farmer is using a genetically modified crop then they cannot save the seed from the harvest to use again because the company will sue them for copyright infringement. They have even sued the person that cleans the seed because they say he is assisting the farmers to steal the copyrighted seed. It almost sounded like a food or seed Gestapo the way they had a list of people and sort of spied and hunted the people down.

I do think I will change some of the ways that I buy my food and try to be more conscious of the kind of food I buy. I know that I should sacrifice the easy not good food for harder better food. It is just that the way of life of getting easy food is so enculturated into my life that it will take a lot of work to get this to change in my life. I do agree and now feel more enlightened about the subject of going to organic food, but I see that it will be hard for people of lower income to be able to switch to more expensive but better food than the cheap not so good food. The movie was anthropological in the fact that it seemed to do a pretty good job at looking at the food problem from many different angles. It seemed to take a holistic approach to learning about the food and used the emic perspective of the farmers to get the information across. It also did not seem to judge either side of the food argument and it seemed to just try to state the facts even if it made one side look better than the other. It did however seem to have an applied anthropological feel to it because not only did the movie gather information about the food problem and food culture it did try to suggest either subtle hints or blatant words how to solve the problem of bad food, and that organic food is really ultimately the best way to go. It is seen that the food market and the big companies in the market are motivated mostly by the monetary value or the money and that whatever gets them the most money is what should be done even if it causes a drop in quality. The last interesting idea that I want to end with is one that an organic farmer stated and it was that instead of the government helping and allowing the big food companies to control the market and control the consumers by giving us not the best products the government should aim for a more honorable goal of trying to lower health problems and medical issues by helping the organic (better) food thrive and compete better. This is so that the people have better nutritional food and thus less health problems.

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