Last night we watched the movie Food Inc. It has just come out on DVD which is going to bring it to a much larger audience than a few theaters. When the disk arrived from BlockBuster in the mail our 12 year old son shouted “Yeah!” I hadn’t realized it was anticipated so much.
I had expected propaganda. There was very little. I was very pleased to find that Food Inc sticks closely to the facts. The documentary is well done, doesn’t bog down and covers the topic. They explode the whole issue of Big Corp’s revolving door access into high government offices showing how their lobbyists and they abuse our laws and courts. If anything they could have hit Monstersanto in the face a lot harder and more often – as it was they only did a few jabs and one really good punch although that did land squarely on the giant’s big lumpy nose.*
The film makes the point that food priorities are screwed up by pricing models. This is an issue I’ve visited many times: the whole system of subsidies hides the true costs of petroleum and ‘cheap’ food. We need to eliminate all the subsidies in this country and get the free market working again. Saying this is bound to make me unpopular with everyone. This is going to hurt. It can’t be done overnight but will need 10 to 20 years of transition. In the end gasoline would cost its true $10/gallon. You think it hurts now to fill up your gas tank? Wait until you pay the real price for war at the pump every time. True costs would fuel a lot more research into conservation, alternative energy and make people think about not wasting precious resources. As a consequence there would be a lot less pollution. Maybe even Al Gore would think twice about jetting around the world and just use his wind bag of hot air.
Yes, with the loss of petroleum, corn and soy subsidies the price of many foods will go up significantly. But consider that the prices of those foods are artificially low right now which makes the highly processed junk food look attractive. Because corn and soy is subsidized they are over produced and over utilized. Ignoring the mercury in the High Fructose Corn Syrup, we shouldn’t be feeding corn and soy to livestock to fatten them up. Cattle, sheep, goats, chickens and even pigs can thrive on a pasture diet. We raise pigs without commercial corn/soy based feeds here on our farm in the mountains of Vermont – year round. Our pigs get the small treat of waste barley from a local beer pub or a bit of dated bread to train them or move them for loading. About 90% of our pig’s diet is pasture. ~7% is waste dairy. Almost all of their remaining food (~3%) is veggies we grow on our farm. Corn is candy and should not be a steady diet – it makes for fat pigs and cows with sick digestion that spreads E. Coli.**
I do take exception to one part of the movie. The producers showed a family who claimed they could not feed themselves fresh vegetables and fruit because of the high prices for good food so they bought and ate fast food junk instead for $3/person/meal. Crimminy – Wait one freakin’ minute! We feed our family on less than a dollar a meal, 62¢/person/meal in fact. Not only that but the prices in our stores are significantly higher than the prices they were showing in the movie. Sure, we grow food but even without what we grow it is still less than $1/person/meal. I know, we just went shopping yesterday and this year we had almost total crop failure to the bad weather.
So why can’t this family eat on $1/person/day? Their excuse was they didn’t have the time to prepare meals. Ah, that is a lifestyle choice. They choose to pay someone $2 to prepare their meals. Then after choosing to dine out they complain that food costs too much. If they would spend that same $3/person/meal and buy rice, eggs, vegetables and even some meat and a piece of fruit for an excellent home cooked meal. Not only would they eat more healthily, be in better physical shape but the husband in the movie family might be able to control is diabetes via diet reducing his $260/month of medication costs thus freeing that money up to further expand their healthy food budget.
I have read of many people saying it costs a lot of money to eat good food and that junk food is cheaper than good healthy veggies, fruits and meats. These are false, they’re myths. The fact is when food gets processed you pay for the processing, extra handling, extra transportation, energy and small serving size portions. Its the same at the supermarket or fast food at places like MickyD’s. If you want the service of processing then it costs more, not less. Raw food costs less, not more. Locally grown, wholesome raw food will cost more than the mass produced, pesticide laced, herbicide treated, antibiotic, hormone injected, infect and disinfected factory farmed veggies, fruits, nuts and meats. However, that local raw food still costs less than junk food. Not only that but the ‘cheap’ processed food uses junk, real junk, and fillers that have less food value. Big Ag is stealing from your pocket on tax day for subsidies, stealing from you when you shop and stealing from you when you eat.
So don’t eat it and certainly don’t make it your main diet.*** Make a choice. Yes, it takes a little bit of time to cook your own meals and not have a personal chef (or MickyD burger flicker) but cooking is a fun family activity. Enjoy life. It’s all you’ve got.
PS. No, I don’t get any money, commissions, etc from the movie, promoting it, mentioning Amazon, BlockBuster, etc. I do appreciate these companies who like the Sears Roebucks of the old days help bring the world to those of us out in distant rural areas. This movie is only available at limited theaters. Rent or buy Food Inc and watch it with your family.
*Recently Monsanto has lost several key court cases, legislations and farmers have been dumping the use of Monsanto’s start hormone mimic rBGH as if it caused cancer. Even Wal-Mart has gotten in on the act coming down on the right side due to consumer demand for healthy, Monstersanto-free food.
**I was amused to note that Joel Saladin, whom I greatly admire, was free feeding
grain to his pigs such that they were ignoring the perfectly good grass, legumes, wonderful burdock and delicious thistles right there in his pastures near the feeders and elsewhere. Burdock, thistles and clover are some of our pigs favorite herbs – they mow them down. I’ve seen this before on farms where they feed commercial feed which is based on corn/soy. Corn = candy. It’s high in calories. If you are going to feed corn to your livestock, do limited amounts, preferably late in the day so they will first eat their veggies (pasture).
***Go ahead, enjoy that bag of chips, you can eat some junk, but shoot for moderation in everything.
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