Friday, July 10, 2009

Food, Inc.

If you are reading this website, you've probably already heard about Food,Inc., the documentary that exposes the dirty industrial secrets of the food industry. I saw it last night at the Charles Theater, and although I am obviously already one of the converted, I am glad I did.

The film was mainly a broad overview of how power has become concentrated and corrupted in the food industry, set to a montage of animals being mutilated, brightly synthetic packages in the grocery store, and endless fields of genetically modified corn and soy. While it was pretty depressing, it also made me believe more than ever in our power as consumers.

Case in point about how the film could/should have been ended with more positive footage: After the film was over, the woman sitting behind me with her husband and son started crying because "she felt so powerless." These kind of exposé films often make us feel so overwhelmed, we become paralyzed instead of motivated.

So I turned around and started talking to her about the CSA I joined and how happy it makes me. It's so easy to subvert the usual food system. Although it costs a little more than supermarket food, I believe that if there's one thing you should spend money on, it's the food you put inside you.

Why I love my CSA:

1. It costs less than one month of my rent and I get fresh, healthy, organic, vegetables for six months.

2. I notice the seasons a lot more!

3. I remember what "real" food tastes like (a tomato in July is totally different than some fake, watery, pinkish thing-- the "idea of a tomato" it's called in the film-- in November)

3. I appreciate farm workers and the Earth a lot more

4. My food travels less mileage, hence less gas use (War in Iraq, anyone?)

Just by CHANGING HOW WE SPEND OUR MONEY, we can heal any number of issue from the inside-out. From how business is structured (supporting small local economies), to the healthcare system (obesity epidemic, anyone?!), to the environment (like tons of chicken manure flooding the Chesapeake Bay).

Let me tell you, eating delicious local food is soo much better than marching in the streets, signing petitions, or holding teach-ins. And more effective, since $$$$ is the only argument that the powers-that-be listen to anyway.

I could go into a long synopsis here about ammonia in hamburgers made out of hundreds of different cows, genetically modified soy, farmers being sued by Monsanto for saving heirloom crop seeds. But if you're interested in any kind of environmental, social, or political justice at all you've probably already come across the food industry and the way it totally destroys the health of the planet.

So, instead of getting frustrated, become a responsible consumer. The companies are only selling what we're buying.



Angry Asian said...

i really wish i could do the CSA thing, i just cannot afford it. i know in the long run it's economically better but i cant right now. i had a discussion with my roommate last night. she thinks the farmer's market under 83 is more expensive than going to the grocery store but that is my preferred place to shop for the weekly groceries. it's the best i can do for now until things are better at work and i can actually afford to participate in the CSA.

i have not seen the movie and i'm not sure that i will. it sounds depressing.

************* said...

I know, I know, the initial cost of the CSA is what people struggle with the most. It works for me because I mainly eat veggies anyway, but it's not for everyone. I really want to sit down and do a cost analysis of a week's worth of food from a CSA and supermarket to see exactly how the prices work out. I'll let you know the results!

Samtaters said...

LOVE this post. I saw Food, Inc. when it opened in Portland, OR in June while I was out there on vacation. It is definitely one of those exposes that can easily overwhelm you, but if you go into it semi-informed, you leave a bit more motivated than those completely blind sided by the material put in front of them.

As a cancer survivor, I began researching alternative medicines (pharmaceutical drug pushing, anyone?) and trying to focus on a diet focused on fresh local produce 6 years ago. I've tried to cut what processed foods I can out of my diet. With processed foods everywhere you look, and with the schedules and lives we lead, sometimes it is unavoidable. I think it is all about transition for those wishing to eventually live an organic / local produce centered lifestyle. Like any other lifestyle change, going cold turkey increases failure rates. It's sad that it took something like cancer to turn on that light bulb above my head, but I wouldn't change it for the world. I'd rather battle cancer in my late teens and early 20s than later down the road.

I'm extremely interested in investing in a share at One Straw Farm. I've been looking for a CSA that comes highly recommended and has what I need. Coming in mid season, this may not be an option now, but I'm certainly keeping it in mind for next season. I do 80% of my weekly "grocery shopping" at farmers' markets, primarily the Waverly / 32nd Street market. Not only do I find it to be cheaper, but it makes me happy and gives me peace of mind to know that I can ask anything I want about the produce. I know that it has traveled a minimal distance before becoming food for my body and soul. No chemically altered or modified produce, no out of season sad excuse for a fruit or veggie. I look forward to my weekly trek to the market. I usually go with an idea of what I want to make for the week, but I'm always surprised by an ingredient and spontaneous recipes are born.

Thanks again for this post. I think it's extremely important and full of ideas worth spreading!

@samtaters on twitter

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