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261 of 278 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From the front lines of the food wars
This book is a companion piece to the documentary Food Inc. It consists of 25 essays on topics ranging from agribusiness, to so-called "frankenfoods," to pesticides and hormones, to biofuels, to nutrition and global hunger. The essays are written by acknowledged experts including Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation (2006) and Michael Pollan, who wrote some of the...
Published on May 21, 2009 by Dennis Littrell

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48 of 59 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars generally okay but leaves a lot to be desired
I must have misunderstood both the format and the purpose of this text when I purchased it. I was under the impression it would be a comprehensive account concerning the development and corporatization of the modern food industry in our country; what I got instead was multiple essays, from various authors, that were both elementary, and on avergae, uninformative...
Published on August 1, 2009 by J. McDonald


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261 of 278 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From the front lines of the food wars, May 21, 2009
This review is from: Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-And What You Can Do About It (Paperback)
This book is a companion piece to the documentary Food Inc. It consists of 25 essays on topics ranging from agribusiness, to so-called "frankenfoods," to pesticides and hormones, to biofuels, to nutrition and global hunger. The essays are written by acknowledged experts including Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation (2006) and Michael Pollan, who wrote some of the best books I have read on food, including The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World (2001), The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (2006), and In Defense of Foods: An Eater's Manifesto (2008)--see my reviews at Amazon.

The topics are presented in a fairly balanced way with one essay followed by an essay termed "ANOTHER TAKE." For example Peter Pringle's piece "Food, Science, and the Challenge of World Hunger--Who Will Control the Future?" argues that genetically modified (GM) foods are not as dangerous as some think and they can, with proper precautions taken, help us feed a growing world population. However in the next essay, using the term "genetically engineered" (GE) foods, Ronnie Cummins argues that such foods are dangerous and threaten to take away from local farmers the ability to grow food and give that power solely to agribusiness.

In his essay, "Exploring the Corporate Powers behind the Way We Eat," Robert Kenner recounts his experience making Food Inc. emphasizing how closed and secretive are the big corporations that produce and process our food. They wouldn't let him and his camera crews into their plants and they made the people who would talk to him feel threatened. There was no counter to this, possibly because the agribusiness people wouldn't participate in the book just as they wouldn't cooperate in the making of the film. This is damning. Secrecy and closed-doors suggest that they have something to hide.

Nonetheless I have mixed feelings. There is no question that in an ideal world we would all have local access to organically grown and minimally processed foods--free range chickens and vegetables grown with natural fertilizers in a sustainable family farm environment where the animals are treated humanely. But we don't. Why? The usual answer is you can't produce food cheaply enough in that manner to feed a world of six and a half billion people. This book in effect argues that you can, and the real reason we don't is that the big corporations have a stranglehold on not just our governments but on the science and logistics required to deliver and present the food including labor, transportation, storage, and the markets. Small and local can't compete.

However, what is hardly mentioned in the book and seems almost taboo to say is that the underlying problem, which is only going to get worse, is the enormous demand for food put on our resources because we have too many people living on this planet. I can see a Wendell Berry kind of agrarian paradise possible after we cut our numbers by perhaps half (more would be better) with a larger percentage of the population choosing to become farmers.

Currently the Slow Foods, sustainable foods, organic foods, and the humane treatment to animals movements are mainly supported by society's well-to-do, its elites educationally and economically. The average person cannot afford to shop at Whole Foods, which is sometimes called "Whole Paycheck." Neither can your average urban or suburban dweller conveniently find his or her way to the local farmer's market, if there is one.

But the main problem in the United States is public ignorance. The average person has little understanding of nutrition and is bombarded by conflicting claims in the literature as the big corporations pay for studies that support their interests. On television and elsewhere there's an endless stream of ads promoting fast and cheap food, adulterated food, and food that entices and seduces with depictions of juicy, fatty, starchy essences. A secondary problem is the loss of the tradition of the home cooked meal. As Joel Salatin writes in his essay "Declare Your Independence": "Learn to Cook Again"(!). Much of the food that is bought at supermarkets and taken home to prepare is of the "throw it in the microwave" variety. With many if not most households having two bread winners or a single parent, who has the time and energy to prepare a complete home-cooked meal?

So ultimately the stranglehold that agribusiness has on our society is the result of an unhealthy lifestyle pursued by most people, a lifestyle that has removed us from the land and thrown us onto the concrete and asphalt jungles of our cities and suburbs, has taught us little to nothing about our real relationship with the natural environment and the foods that have sustained us for thousands of years. Instead we live in ignorance in an artificial and unsustainable world of mass produced, sanitized junk food, force fed to us as if by gigantic steam shovels. Or, to change the image, like our cattle, hogs and chickens we are kept at the trough and stuffed to the gills with an ever flowing stream of denatured concoctions of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, sugars and additives until perhaps someday we'll burst. Obesity and chronic disease reign supreme and all our days we will dwell in the house of the overfed and the under nourished.

I applaud editor Karl Weber and the others who contributed to this excellent book and hope it is widely read. And I wish the producers of the documentary a huge audience. Understanding and education come first. We as a society have to know there is a problem, and if this book and accompanying film reach a large number of people, that will be a giant step in the right direction.

--Dennis Littrell, author of "The World Is Not as We Think It Is"
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86 of 100 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Food Inc., June 20, 2009
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This review is from: Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-And What You Can Do About It (Paperback)
Just saw the film and ordered book. I don't understand why people think organic is so expensive. It's not the same product as the nonorganic version. Scientifically speaking,. it's a different substance. It has more nutrition in it. And why do people think healthy food takes all this time to prepare? You just eat a peach, not a candy bar. Smart choices don't cost more time - they just require a different mentality than buying into the corporate-controlled marketing mindset. And staying out of the supermarket. You want to talk about spending too much - the supermarket is The Worst Place to go. It's ALL about making you spend money. On soda, on chips. Please also read The End of Overeating by Kessler about hypersaturated foods supermarkets always try to sell you.

And those people featured in the film - the Hispanics who eat at McDonald's? I don't understand why they aren't buying food from the taco truck, like in my neighborhood. Bean burritos are filled with nutrition. And they're cheap.

Nonetheless point made. Why are we paying for corn subsidies that line the pockets of giant agribusiness and THEN we still have to pay AGAIN for diabetics, etc. ...not only do we have the world's most ridiculous healthcare "system", the agribusiness corporate interests have given us the world's most ridiculous food system. Read Exposed and you will see how Europeans haven't bought into this toxic melange in healthcare and in food. It's a wonder we Americans are even living. Wake up America! We've got to act soon. Before we spend ourselves to death treating all the problems the food industry has created and the health insurance industry is only too happy to surgically intervene in. Frankenworld!
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely perfect, July 17, 2009
By 
D. R. Blanco (Seattle, Wa USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-And What You Can Do About It (Paperback)
This book is a perfect book for new comers to the food industry as well as a good first-read to those interested in helping with the current food crisis. It covers many different subjects and allows the reader to choose which subjects they would like to further pursue.
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48 of 59 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars generally okay but leaves a lot to be desired, August 1, 2009
This review is from: Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-And What You Can Do About It (Paperback)
I must have misunderstood both the format and the purpose of this text when I purchased it. I was under the impression it would be a comprehensive account concerning the development and corporatization of the modern food industry in our country; what I got instead was multiple essays, from various authors, that were both elementary, and on avergae, uninformative.
If you want a very general and basic introduction to current issues, such as pesticide use or factory farming, etc., then this text may be helpful. For those that already have a good understanding concerning what is wrong in the food industry but want to know why and how it came to be, Food Inc. may leave you disappointed.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Companion to a movie about our freedoms as Americans, October 13, 2009
This review is from: Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-And What You Can Do About It (Paperback)
Picture a sheppard dog punching out a time clock(our fathers' generation). Now the guard is changing - our generation is going to have the sheep(the people) protected by... wait/he's punching in the time clock/WOW! He's back dating it!!! ...(ZOOM IN)... It's a Wolf in government's clothing.
There are three parts to this superb compilation of writers who are intrinsic/intimate to the inner/outer workings in the incipient indusrialization of our food: Part one/THE FILM, Part two/INSIDE THE FOOD WARS, Part three/WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT.
The best way to describe it (other than it digs down into the bare bones of this dirty business) is the way the film maker got involved himself; with the help of Eric Schlosser, Michael Pollen, and many others, as he describes in his chapter: Exploring the Corporate Powers Behind the Way We Eat: The Making of FOOD, INC.
He tells of setting out to make a film about food & then inexplicably, runs into an iron curtain separating him from seeing where the food comes from?. So he decides to: matter-of-fact state when companies(many household names)refuse to let the public know what they are in fact buying.
He finds sickness from contaminated food on the rise, as lobbying power cripple efforts to police the industry/a matter of public safety.
He finds that although the government provides inspectors to protect consumers, their authority is waning as the government gives greater responsibility to self-regulation.
Unfortunately, the film he set out to make is turning into a film about unchecked corporate power. He is fortunate to expose it. Unfortunate, because it is ipso facto.
He finds the "Food Disparagement" laws that are meant to scare the bejeezus out of you. Oprah Winfrey didn't take this laying down/ but even she had to watch her p's & q's.
Robin Maynard of the U.K. Soil Association points out, the same amount of grain needed to fill a tank of a sports utility vehicle could be used to feed a person for an entire year. This is not fair or a sustainable trade. But according the the U.S. Government there are only two kinds of fair: The State Fair and The County Fair.
There are no high roads to globalization only lower & lower roads leading to rock bottom prices. This situation is not sustainable, nor is it accidental. In large measure, it can be traced back to government policies designed to produce the very system that now distorts agrucultural/production in this country.
Whether simply greed, deregulation, outright theft/fraud/blackmailing by financial institutions of their respective governments, the combined effects of the food & financial crisis will continue to unfold in the coming months and years. The bottom 3 billion poor will take the intial hit as well as the continued extermination of the middle class.
The ethanol boondoggle, stock market/commodities speculation/manipulation lead to the crisis of the global food price peak in June 2008. These high food prices have created tremendous pressures in the lives of the poor, for whom basic food can consume 2/3 of their income.
This book is information rich(some stomachs may be unable to digest) in the topic of food as it plays out in today's battle of good vs evil.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED !!!!!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST read for every American, October 18, 2009
By 
S. Troup (Pittsford, NY United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-And What You Can Do About It (Paperback)
You will be shocked at the effects factory farming is having on the safety of our food. This book is most effective after viewing the film; however, it is an incredible eye-opener. It expands on topics seen in the film like genetic modification of seeds and the ramifications of this process. You will also learn more about the treatment of immigrant workers in this country and will soon understand why no Americans want to do the work. TO add insult to injury you will be blown to frustration over the politics involved. If you eat food and you think you are 100% safe under our food safety policies, you need to see the film and read this book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You really need to read this even if you did not see the movie!, September 21, 2009
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This review is from: Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-And What You Can Do About It (Paperback)
I think if we all were more educated on the impact food has on the environment and our own health we would have a stronger voice with the food industry. This will give you tools to empower yourself to help change the food industry into something that is not a death machine set on destruction.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, September 17, 2010
By 
C. J. Thompson "Arctic John" (Pond Inlet, Nunavut Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-And What You Can Do About It (Paperback)
I bought this book because the advertising 'blurb' read 'How Industrial Food is making us sicker, fatter and poorer...' This appealed to me as the sort of book I might like, but what I failed to notice at the time is that the book describes itself as a 'companion' to a documentary film by the same name. Had I known that I probably would not have bought it, particularly not having seen the film to begin with.

Admittedly, the fact that book did not meet my expectations is partly my fault but the format of the book left quite a bit to be desired as far as I am concerned. Rather than being a full length thesis covering related topics in a unified way, the book consists of a number of articles all (somewhat loosely) connected to the topic of 'Industrial food'... The book is more of a magazine-type anthology rather than a well-developed, stand-alone study.

Contributors to the book include Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser, both of whom have written books mentioned in this work and which I have read with enjoyment. I have to say that I did not find much more in this particular collection than I could get from the publications by these two excellent writers. Many of the articles were too short to contain much actual 'meat' and, ultimately they were just not that interesting.

I would like to see the film but I am not sure that doing so is likely to change my mind about the book.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Find out what you are eating--then vote with your dollar!, December 12, 2009
This review is from: Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-And What You Can Do About It (Paperback)
This documentary takes you on a tour of the major food corporations that control our food supply. You will be shocked-and-awed, no matter how much you already know. The film left me in tears at the end, not only out of disgust, but also hope.

Naturally, Tyson and other companies would not let the film makers take a peek at how the chickens were living, but one did, and that was enough to give you some insights. In one scene we even see a man poking his hand into a hole created in a cow's stomach (one of them). He explains that grains are not the natural food of cattle, and this is causing the rise of the deadly bacteria E-coli. (One woman whose young son died of this was interviewed.)

They compared this with a farmer that allowed his animals to run free and eat grass as opposed to grains. The animals looked happy and free. When they showed a worker killing a chicken, it happened so quickly that it was apparent the animal did not suffer much--it was nothing like at a slaughterhouse. (Though I wonder, did they also kill the cows and pigs there? They didn't show...)

Then there is the issue with corn. Factory farmed cattle are fattened by cheap corn (cheap because the corn farmers lobbied to get their products subsidized by the government!) Corn fed cattle are high in Omega 6s, and this imbalance is passed on to the consumer, fattening him or her up as well. At the root of the obesity epidemic is an overabundance of Omega 6 fatty acids (as compared to Omega 3s found in wild animals, walnuts, flax and chia seeds). We are eating too much corn (as well as wheat and soy). Naturally, they interviewed Michael Pollen, the author of The Omnivore's Dilemma, who wrote about this in detail. Also presented were members of a family that was poor, despite working long hours, and had to eat at the dollar menu at fast food joints because it was cheaper to eat the subsided unhealthful food than to buy a pound of broccoli. The very low calories in a pound of broccoli would not sustain them -and yet it costs even more than a burger. Scenes from other countries were shown: poor farmers were forced out of work because they could not compete with the cheap subsidized corn imported from the USA .

The movie touches upon the corruption of Monsanto and how they intend to control the food supply with their patented GMO seeds. Already, 90% of all soy is GMO. They prosecute even farmers who unknowingly get their seeds (from the wind blowing it to their farms from their neighbor's farms) because they didn't pay for it--even though they did not want it.

The documentary also touches upon food laws. The Cheeseburger Bill makes it illegal for us to sue the food companies in the same way that we sued tobacco corporations. Nonetheless, they have laws (varying according to states) that enable them to sue anyone who says something bad about them! (This is how Oprah was sued years ago when she said on TV that she would never eat a cheeseburger again out of fear of Mad Cow Disease.)

The movie makes a beautiful point at the end: You as the consumer have the power to stop this insanity. You are voting three times a day. When enough consumers stopped buying the milk that had hormones in it, companies were forced to listen and stopped producing it. You vote with your dollars. I always say: Even if you can't afford good food, buy it--just eat less of it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars More Soapbox than Substance, March 7, 2012
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This review is from: Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-And What You Can Do About It (Paperback)
I went into this book knowing what I believed to be meager snippets of information about the Food Industry. I finished this book with little more information than what I already knew, which as I said, was meager. Honestly, I'm quite disappointed.

I could tell by Part One opening with Eric Schlosser, Rolling Stone, a little left of center, that the book I was reading was going to be more political than informative. Parts One and Two were Soapbox Letters with tidbits of meaty information. By midway Part Two until the end of the book, which is the bulk of the book, don't expect any in-depth descriptions about Corporate food, organics, GMOs, animal welfare, hormones, cancer, etc. The book takes a sharp bend to Climate Change and maintains that bend for the remainder.

The only author that I felt any simpatico towards was Joel Salatin in Part Three, Chapter Ten. I did a little further research on him and he describes himself as a "Christian-libertarian-environmentalist-capitalist-lunatic-Farmer", which helped me understand my liking him. I didn't feel like he was preaching or taking the route of the victim. His approach was very proactive and liberating.

In the end, there isn't any information in this book that I will refer to in the future. I won't have a discussion with a Monsanto cheerleader and say "Well in 'Food Inc.' I know Monsanto does x,y, or z." What I knew about Monsanto pre-Food Inc is what I know about Monsanto post-Food Inc. What I know about GMOs, organics, animal welfare, etc is all the same. What I did learn is that I am a Christian Libertarian Capitalist who is concerned with the environment (to a degree, not in worship) and furthermore concerned with the chemicals that I place in my childrens' bodies. I am concerned with my family's food sovereignty. I am concerned that Corporations, like Monsanto, are legally maneuvering themselves to take away that sovereignty. I also learned that I am in company with a lot of people that I disagree with politically. I am concerned that their approach is in fact sabotaging food sovereignty. So, for the readers out there, if you're far left of center, this will probably be an enjoyable yet uninformative read. If you're anywhere else on the political spectrum this will be an incredibly boring and uninformative read.
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