Last night, I saw a documentary called, “Food Inc.,” which investigates where our food comes from, how it’s treated, how the worker’s are treated, and who controls the majority of our food supply. The movie starts by mentioning that the average supermarket contains about 47,000 different food items and yet the food industry controls 80% of the market and is mainly composed of 4 key companies which are Cargill, Swift, Tyson, and National Beef. I was startled!
The film talks about how these big food companies treat their animals and workers inhumanely. The creator and author of the movie and the book, Nick Schlosser, also talk about how there are not many farms anymore. Instead our food comes from factories even if the labels say “farm” or has picture of a graising cow on it. These factories have become so efficient in producing cheap food that is produced in half the time it used to take to make it during the 1970s. As a result of this “efficiency,” the workers, animals, and the environment suffer the consequences. There is not enough room for the animals to grow and live comfortably. The workers are overworked, underpaid, and recruited from foreign countries to work in the U.S. illegally only to be sent back when the immigration department cracks down on them. Contaminated water from meat plants run off into farm land which in turn contaminates plant crops with the deadly E.coli bacteria strain O157:H7.
Here is trailer of the movie so you can have a better idea of what this movie is about:
The one thing that did stick with me was a story about a family who was left to buy cheap, fast food over healthier options because of poverty. In reality, pre-packaged foods are cheap because they are mass produced and the manufacturers have cut corners somewhere else. The father who suffers all sorts of illnesses due to eating unhealthily takes so many expensive medications that his family was even more forced to eat poorly. I thought to myself, “how ironic.” I realized that cheap, junk food is not really cheap when you take into account the environmental and health costs we incur in the long run. This is one reason I do not have a problem paying for healthy foods, I see it as an investment so that I do not have to pay for medical bills later on when I age.
There many other issues discussed in the movie which I would not talk about in this post. Instead, I want to focus on the actions you and I can take immediately. As I was watching the movie, I sort of felt hopeless at the beginning. I was asking myself, “what do I do now? Do I stop eating meat? Do I do this or do I do that?” But, the documentary had a clear message in the end. We as consumers have the power to demand good quality food from these big food companies with every purchase!
Here are more steps you can take to take this power back (taken from the end of Food Inc.):
- Buy from companies that treat workers, animals, and the environment with respect.
- When you go to the supermarket, choose foods that are in season. Buy foods that are organic. Know what’s in your food. Read labels.
- Know what you buy. The average meal travels 1500 miles from the farm to the supermarket.
- Buy foods that are grown locally.
- Shop at farmer’s markets.
- Plant a garden. (Even a small one)
- Cook a meal with your family and eat together.
- Everyone has a right to healthy food.
- Make sure your farmer’s market accepts food stamps.
- Ask your school board to provide healthy school lunches.
- The FDA and the USDA are supposed to protect you and your family. Tell Congress to enforce food safety standards and re-introduce Kevin’s Law. For more information on Kevin’s law and to support the bill, click here: http://www.opencongress.org/bill/109-h3160/show
- If you say grace, ask for food that will keep us, and the planet healthy.
For more steps to change how our food is prepared and delivered to our dinner tables, please visit takepart.com/foodinc. You can also find the 10 steps you can take to help change our food system here: http://www.foodincmovie.com/get-involved.php.
You can help re-authorize the Child Nutrition act by signing the petition at http://www.foodincmovie.com/sign-the-petition.php.