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Food Inc: Worth Seeing, Even More Worth Believing

I finally got to see the film Food Inc., which took a few months to reach a multiplex near me in Pennsylvania. So, on a hot Saturday night I took my 12-year-old daughter Eve to see the 8:10 show. Unfortunately, there were only two other people there. I was tempted to veer to a different theater to see Julie and Julia instead—after all, it was a Saturday night, why not see something fun? But I knew I needed to see Food Inc. and that it wouldn’t last long in our local theater. Frankly, I was surprised it made it there at all.

And that’s a shame. The film really tells the story of the sorry state of our current food situation. As Eve said, “I knew a lot of the pieces, but now I understand how it all fits together.” She’s grown up hearing me talk about Michael Pollan and the film’s coproducer Eric Schlosser, both of whom I am fortunate to know. And I first met Gary Hirschberg, founder of Stonyfield Farm, almost 30 years ago. (Yikes!) Eve’s also grown up hearing me fight with her over almost every single food decision at the supermarket, even though she is a good eater and loves a lot of organic foods. The lure of candy, Cheetos, soda, and brightly colored, highly sugared food is tough to stand up against—although mostly I do. But just today I let her buy a loaf of squishy white “Italian” processed bread. (I was tired from back-to-school shopping and my resistance was low.) And as the movie started, we were eating overly “buttered” popcorn and “small” cokes that were the size of Delaware.

It’s truly daunting to recognize the bullying tactics and the entrenched corrupt influencers that have infiltrated our government and poisoned our lives. But at the end of the day, only we can change it, with our choices. And those of us who can afford to change it need to help those who can’t. I hope that my book, Organic Manifesto, will create even more change when it comes out, and clarify the connections between our toxic food practices and climate change and all our soaring health problems. But in the meantime, there is really only one thing that matters—one thing that can truly change the world…grow, buy, eat, and serve organic food.

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15 Responses to Food Inc: Worth Seeing, Even More Worth Believing

  1. Jessica Cooper August 26, 2009 at 10:38 am #

    You should have options like on fb… like this, don’t like this and <3 this. (I <3 this post btw.) Can’t wait to check out your book!

  2. Pat Beichler August 26, 2009 at 11:00 am #

    My grandson Ben served a one year internship at Polyface Farm and he got me interested in beyond organic eating. Then I read Omnivores dilemma and In Defense of Food by Michael Polan. After that I got the film “Fresh” to show to a group of friends. That did it. That was 2 months ago and I am hooked. I haven’t eaten or drank anything with High fructose corn syrup, and no soy products. I have bought only pastured beef, grown less than a 100 miles from here which I pick up for myself and friends at the Bluffton Farmers Market just past Hilton Head Island. In addition I now buy only bread and desserts made by a local baker, and eat only produce grown locally. I have lost 18 pounds without dieting. I live on Daufuskie Island (you have to take a boat to get here and there is essentially no farming on the island and only 3 tiny necessity only stores). I got a group together, we started a farmer’s market here, started growing stuff, composting, recycling and starting a real movement under our Daufuskie Island Conservancy. I have pre-ordered “Food Inc” from Amazon (to be released in November on DVD) and hope it is good as Fresh.
    I too, cannot wait to check out your book.

  3. foodie in Zionville August 26, 2009 at 1:00 pm #

    I agree that organic is best! Husband & I have been vegan sometimes and vegetarial all the time since spring…feel great! We’ve stayed away from the high frutose corn syrup for years thanks to Dr. Weil (or is that Wiel) but tell me about avoiding soy products…we’re probably eating too much of them as we avoid meat and poultry…is it another catch 22?

  4. Donna in Delaware August 26, 2009 at 1:48 pm #

    Five years ago, my husband and I stayed for 1 month at a spa/health institute in Austria, just outside of Klagenfurt, in the state of Carinthia. We were put on a cleansing diet. I suppose “diet” is the wrong choice of word since we had no solid food for the first 21/2 weeks. “Cleansing regimen”, would be more accurate. All we had to eat was an organic vegetable broth and 4L of water every day, plus vitamins and minerals that was tailored to our bodies needs by way of tests that found us lacking. My husband was there to loose weight and I,just to feel better.

    We attended a lecture extolling the virtues of eating organic foods, laying off almost all sugar and products that contains white, refined sugar, adding certain cold-processed oils to food, such as pumpkinseed oil, flax oil and of course, olive oil. When were we allowed to eat after 3 weeks, we ate a whole grain flat bread made of spelt, organic vegetable broth and herbal teas. Gently,we were placed on small plates of all organic meats, fish and vegetables. Desserts were usually something of a fruity nature and lightly whipped. The foods were fresh, lively, flavorful and healthy.

    During one lecture, we were discussing the benefits of organic food and since my German isn’t that great, I asked my husband to ask the Dr./lecturer, what happens to those people who want to eat and be healthy, but can’t afford it? It’s ok to tell people to eat organics, but tell them how to feed a family of 4 or more when organic foods are pricey and getting pricier,especially off season. He didn’t have much of an answer. It’s easy for those of us who can afford it to say eat and by organic. With the recession, it will be even more difficult for most people to eat that way.

    Growing during the season is all well and good, but suppose there is not room for growing? I suppose you could grow in pots on a deck or terrace, but suppose they have no deck or terrace where they live? There may not be a community garden. What does one do to feed yourself and family nutritious, healthful foods,instead of canned, processed,overly sweet junk? It is a big problem. Granted, growing organically takes a lot more work, but we have to learn how to get this food to the less fortunate and those who must be on a budget and can’t afford to put out an extra dime for organic foodstuffs. Let’s see if the growers will lower their prices for those less fortunate. I think not!

    We have to find other ways of not only informing people about healthier eating habits, but we also have to find a way to provide those healthy products to them.

  5. Donna in Delaware August 26, 2009 at 1:53 pm #

    Please excuse any typing errrors. I misplaced by eyeglasses.

  6. Steph August 26, 2009 at 3:10 pm #

    Thank you, Donna. I try to buy organic foods, but being that I don’t really cook and am one of those who are on a budget, it’s really tough. I recently went on an organic foods shopping spree and ended up spending over $150! Normally, when I only buy a few organic products I spend about $80. Craziness.

    Sad to say, but I’ve actually been putting off seeing Food Inc. I’m afraid of what it will do to me. I have a hard time with the guilt, with the knowledge of what I’m doing to my body and to the environment. Which is why sometimes I end up being late on paying my bills so I can buy more organic foods at the market. Not right, I know, but it’s a choice I’ve made in order to be able to live with myself. I was a vegetarian for years but then was hospitalized with a pretty serious genetic heart condition. I was hooked back on the meats while in the hospital. I’ve thought about getting back to it, but I’m just one of those people who LOVES food; bad food. It really has to be a commitment, I know. I struggle with it constantly.

    Maria, you’ve pushed me to do the right thing and go see Food Inc. If I end up not being able to sleep, you’ll be the first one I call 😉

  7. Chris August 26, 2009 at 5:36 pm #

    One way to lower the cost of organic foods is for the organic food regulators to lower the cost for being “certified organic.” I personally frequented a local farmer who prefers to grow his crops organically, but he is not “certified organic” so he can’t label his products as such for sale off the premises. He can’t afford the $3000 fee the inspectors charge to certify that he is indeed an organic grower. Such outrageous fees squeeze out the small farmers and favor large commercial growers. Organic may be healthier, but the organic food industry is just as slanted against the small business owner and small farmer as any other industry.

  8. Amanda August 26, 2009 at 7:52 pm #

    Feeding ourselves when we have little money is definitely an issue, and I certainly don’t want to downplay the food security issues we have in this country. But why doesn’t anyone talk about the cost of junk food?

    A bag of generic chips cost, what, $2.00? You could get a pound of organic peaches for that. Or a nice bunch of organic broccoli. Or a pound or organic pasta. Or two cans of organic beans. And Doritos or other brand-name chips can cost over $4. You could get a whole bag of organic apples or organic potatoes or organic onions for that!

    Let’s be honest. If you cut out junk food and put that money toward “buying up” to some organic items, it’s not that unreasonable.

    Yes, it is expensive to eat the “standard American diet” completely organically. But, if we’re willing to make some changes (less meat, more veg, rarely junk or candy) it’s probably pretty comparable.

  9. Amanda August 27, 2009 at 4:01 am #

    Feeding ourselves when we have little money is definitely an issue, and I certainly don’t want to downplay the food security issues we have in this country. But why doesn’t anyone talk about the cost of junk food?

    A bag of generic chips cost, what, $2.00? You could get a pound of organic peaches for that. Or a nice bunch of organic broccoli. Or a pound or organic pasta. Or two cans of organic beans. And Doritos or other brand-name chips can cost over $4. You could get a whole bag of organic apples or organic potatoes or organic onions for that!

    Let’s be honest. If you cut out junk food and put that money toward “buying up” to some organic items, it’s not that unreasonable.

    Yes, it is expensive to eat the “standard American diet” completely organically. But, if we’re willing to make some changes (less meat, more veg, rarely junk or candy) it’s probably pretty comparable.
    OH! You’re my new favorite blogger fyi

  10. Donna in Delaware August 27, 2009 at 8:06 am #

    Amanda’s point is well taken. But, I think that is for feeding 1 person only. That doesn’t help much when you have 2 to 4 or more children that you also want to feed 3 times a day.

    Chris is right. Why does the government or a body like the government to certify these products as “organic” have to charge so much to the grower? It’s obscene! What to they have to do that requires them to take so much money? Are there lab tests involved, if so, then how many? Do they have to stay on the farm overnight or for days to see how the farmer raise and grow things, how they deal with insects, diseases? They should be ashamed of themselves and I suppose they just like taking and taking from the little guys.

    I just found out from an Dr. Weil post that there is a problem now with government certification of “organic products”. It seems that there are some shady characters slipping things into foods labeled organic, thats coming from sources that doesn’t grow or raise or bake organically. You can’t trust anything or anyone anymore to do what is right.

  11. Donna in Delaware August 27, 2009 at 8:19 am #

    To FOODIE IN ZIONVILLE,

    Yes, be careful of eating too much soy. It can have the opposite effect of what you are trying to accomplish with your health and eating habits. If you have a thyroid problem, be careful. If you are menopausal, only eat a certain amount weekly or monthly. Check with your health care provider to make sure that you are not over-doing it. We can get carried away with things when we are trying to do what is right, going full speed ahead without doing our homework. Always check first before doing something extreme, especially if you have a health problem. One thing can sometimes affect another when you are unaware.

  12. Donna in Delaware August 27, 2009 at 8:40 am #

    To Foodie,

    If you have health issues, also check before you start taking any herbal products in conjuction with prescription meds. You may get a drug interaction that you had no knowledge of. Be careful with foods also. You can get drug-food interactions. I am not trying to scare you, just to make you aware and to keep you safe. I am retired from pharmacy and you will be surprised at what people don’t know about drug/food/herbal combinations and interactions, and what they are not told by suppliers and others who sell these products. They are forever extolling the virtures of what their products can do for your health, but not what how to use them properly.

  13. Steph August 27, 2009 at 1:07 pm #

    Amanda, I don’t know where you do your shopping, but around here most generic junk OR healthier foods are much less expensive than buying organic. For the most part, I think that’s how we’ve become such an over-weight, unhealthy nation. Junk food, fast food is cheap. And as far as that pound of peaches? I’d be throwing my money away if I bought all fresh, organic veggies and fruits. I’d be the only one eating them and unless I want to eat the same thing everyday, and who does, the food would go bad too soon. It’s a really tough situation we’re all in and while I try to do my best to buy smart foods for myself, money does come into play.

    I do remember hearing that part of the problem with regulating our organic farms is that there aren’t enough federal regulators to go around. Supposedly, yes, they do need to spend a good amount of time on each farm to do their assessments and, unfortunately, they are short staffed. And I’m sure money is a HUGE part of that.

  14. Donna in Delaware August 27, 2009 at 5:26 pm #

    My health food store is located not far from me. When I shop, the most that I spend weekly, is around $45.00 for the two of us. The most I’ve ever spent at one time was $75.00 and that was two Thanksgivings ago. My store lists all of their local suppliers on signs that they place on their produce and other things. What they charge per pound for fruits and vegetables, I usually end up with 2-3 apples, pears, oranges, etc. depending on size at between $1.69 and $2.49/lb I get nothing. What I have started doing in the last few months, is driving to the local orchards and farms where my store purchase their things and and get lots more for the money. I can get 7-9 oranges for $3.99-$5.00 or 18 fresh peaches for $4.89. These farms and orchards are between 5 and 25 miles from my home and for me is a hop, skip and jump. Vegetables are the same and eggs, honey, fresh squeezed juices. The Farmer’s market that sell Amish goods are just as convenient. You get the message. If any of you have this situation, maybe you should do the same, if you can. You get a lot more bang for your buck.

  15. farm wife August 28, 2009 at 12:29 am #

    Chris makes an important point about the cost of being “certified OG”. It is outrageous.But another huge problem started when USDA got involved in the certification process. They failed to distinguish between small farms, that only market locally, and huge farms that sell interstate. They need two different certification processes. Those of us who are selling directly to the customer, should not have to undergo the overwhelming amount of documentation that the gigantic farms have to do. Sure, when you go to the grocery store, it helps to know that something is third party certified, it sets your mind at ease. But you don’t necessarily need that level of bueracracy at your local farm stand! I know first hand. I was certified for 14 yrs. and finally had the guts to quit the program. and if you research it , you will find that many other long time certified growers have quit also. We still follow the OG standard to the letter, we just don’t get certified. Our customers don’t care one bit, because they KNOW us. We are THEIR farmer!

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