Food Factory? For me? No Thanks.
Sad tummy woes moved in on Saturday night so I thought I’d browse Netflix and see what could possibly distract me. I settled with my echinacea tea and my blanket and clicked ‘play’ for Food Inc.
Perhaps a silly choice, given I was not feeling very well. Or was it?
Food Inc is a graphic exposé of the food industry. And, INDUSTRY, it is. The documentary, begins with a look at corn. Not your summer corn roast at your uncle’s riverside cottage, but CORN that is featured in EVERYTHING! Here’s a partial list: cola, juice, ketchup, peanut butter, salad dressing, jams, jellies … the brilliant discovery of HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP! Seriously, I know that I haven’t been living under a rock, but this was a big wake up.
So what’s wrong with corn? Nothing, really. Well, lots. For one thing, it is grown to feed the beef industry and cows aren’t supposed to eat corn (great bit on Ted TV in which Mark Bittman food writer from the New York Times clears it all up).
Move next to soybean. The lovely, simple, can-do-so-much bean! For this one I need to back the truck up.
Monsanto. These are the people behind the development of the most deadly toxin ever made: Dioxin aka Agent Orange. The most destructive defoliant used during the Vietnam War, whose consequences are still felt.
They created a delightful product called Round Up. Big weed killer that helps farmers if they want to kill their harvestable crop too. SO Monsanto then uses a gene that they insert into the soybean and it is now immune from the effects of Round Up. Catchy name, to boot: Round Up Ready Soybeans. They create a product that destroys stuff. Then they create a seed that resists it and most farmers are using it. So the crops they spray are spared from what they use to spray. (I’m dizzy thinking about it).
Sixty percent of Canadian farmers are using the patented Round Up Ready Soybeans. Monsanto owns the rights to all future seed and so if a non RURS farmer surrounded by others using the genetically modified bean has unintentional RURS growing, Monsanto sues the farmer for patent infringement. (Incidentally, their Canadian patent expires in 2011 – there are rules about this on their website).
Finally, the film tackles the slaughter houses. The meat industry. My tummy is boiling not because I’m not well, but because I’d forgotten all of this. It’s so BIG!! And disgusting. How did we, (I) become so far removed from what I thought I cared about?
Back in 1978, I read for the first time Frances Moore Lappé’s ground breaking plea, Diet for a Small Planet and made some life changes. But then, I got distracted. I won’t beat myself up here. But I’m awake again.
Today, still not feeling great, I watched a wonderful counterpoint to the brutal truth from Food Inc. The Nature of Things with Dr David Suzuki. This particular episode featured Dr Suzuki and his daughter visiting several major Canadian cities to see what people were doing to make their communities Green: Urban Montreal gardeners who provide wholesome food to Seniors through a Meals on Wheels program; Toronto planners building parks under over passes; Edmonton geniuses taking control of their garbage problems. Hopeful and community minded people doing wonderful things.
I’m thankful that I have choices. I can afford to go to Farmers’ Markets or to places like Market 17. A family earning minimum wage won’t have the same options. When there is a dollar to spend and the choice is between two burgers or 2 apples, generally, the burgers will win.
I don’t have the answer.
What I DO know is that the food ‘industry’ really should come back to the farm. Well, I know that I am.