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Food, Inc.: A Participant Guide Paperback – May 5, 2009
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“Those of us who avoid junk food, with many sighs of relief and self-approval, may still be eating junk a good deal of the time. This enraging fact, which will not surprise anyone who has read such muckraking books as Eric Schlosser’s “Fast Food Nation” (2001) and Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” (2006), is one of the discomforting meanings of the powerful new documentary “Food, Inc.,” an angry blast of disgust aimed at the American food industry.”
The American Conservative
“If you care about what you’re eating, you should see the new documentary Food Inc.”
“Most of you have probably heard about Food, Inc., the movie, but did you also know there’s a companion book to the film? The book explores the challenges raised by the movie in fascinating depth through 13 essays, most of them written especially for this book, and many by experts featured in the film. Highlights include chapters by Michael Pollan (Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food), Anna Lappe (Hope’s Edge and Grub), Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation and film co-producer), Robert Kenner (film director), and a chapter on asking the right questions from Sustainable Table! The book is so popular it’s already in its fourth printing.”
About the Author
Karl Weber is a writer and editor based in New York. He collaborated with Muhammad Yunus on his bestseller Creating a World Without Poverty, edited The Best of I. F. Stone, and, with Andrew W. Savitz, co-authored The Triple Bottom Line: How Today’s Best-Run Companies Are Achieving Economic, Social, and Environmental Success—And How You Can Too.
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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.
The "book" is actually a series of essays written by a selection of very knowledgeable persons and groups, detailing the adverse effects of the industrialization of the food industry. Each of the articles takes a slightly different tact, but collectively, they comprise a very effective attack on the large, multinational food and farming corporations and the governmental agencies which are supposed to be regulating them. The book describes their decimation of the environment, the adverse effects of their practices on the health of our citizenry (obesity and the effect of the pervasive use of pesticides, hormones and antibiotics), the harm their activities cause to the economies of the poorest of the third world nations (and the resulting increase in malnutrition and starvation), and their shameful disregard for even the most basic welfare of the animals that grace our dinner plates.
On the negative side, many of the essays are duplicative, and others are obvious and repetitive. Additionally, the editors who selected the writings don't even make a pretense of subjectivity. Notwithstanding these negatives, the book nonetheless very powerfully and effectively argues that when it comes to farming, agriculture, and other aspects of the food business, the old ways are most certainly the best.
Top international reviews
Subsequent chapters disappointed, and were more a means for the airing of very specific and narrow concerns. They were too detailed and confined in their scope, and were more a critique of industry practices, rather than having a direct bearing on the food we eat.