Sunday, February 7, 2010

Food, Inc

I watched interviews with the producers of Food, Inc when the movie was released and didn’t agree with their apparent “agenda,” but my professor, Dr Fowler, suggested it was worth paying the rental. As it turns out, Netflix has it available for instant streaming. I still don’t agree with all of their conclusions, but the ugly truth about the industry is indeed worth viewing. Here are a few points brought out in the movie (with hopeful accuracy, but mostly not quotes):


There are 47,000 products in average American supermarket.

There are no seasons for food. We ship produce around the world, or whatever else is required to maintain stock.

A very small group of multinational corporations control the food system.

Industrial food began in 30s with fast food. McDonalds brought the factory system to the restaurant business in order to improve efficiency. Uniformity and cheapness changed the food industry. McDonalds corporation is largest purchaser of potatoes.

In the 1970s the top 5 companies controlled 25%. Now the top 4 corporations control 80% of the food industry. Tyson is biggest meat packing company in history of world.

30% of our land base is planted in corn. Market for corn is sometimes lower than cost of production due to corporate pressures and government subsidies. Corn can be stored easily, therefore it has become a staple in our food supply. Practically every product in the supermarket contains corn and/or soybeans.

Cattle have historically eaten grass. The concept of grain fed beef is relatively new, and due to the abundance of cheap corn. The glut of corn has caused new products to be created, like high-fructose corn syrup, which take advantage of the cheap input.

At turn of century a farmer could feed 6-8 people. Now a farmer can feed 126 people. More efficient than ever.

In 1996, when Monsanto began selling Roundup Ready soybeans, only 2% of soybeans in the US contained their patented gene. By 2008, over 90% of soybeans in the US contained Monsanto’s patented gene. Monsanto owns patent on seeds so farmers can’t save seeds from their own crops. They have people hired to investigate and verify that farmers aren’t keeping patented seeds. It drives others out of business completely for a variety of reasons, the court system being one.

We should be buying locally grown food. We should be willing to pay more for locally grown carrots and broccoli than industrially produced hamburger patties. A food system which produces more healthy food would reduce our health care needs.


You may not be hungry again for quite some time after watching, but you’ll get over it. In the meantime, you might want to visit (or look for a similar listing in your state) to find a direct marketing farm near you.

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