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Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-And What You Can Do About It 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.
Top Customer Reviews
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"
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!