This past Monday my good friend asked me to go along with him to check out a premiere film event at E Street Cinema. What an intriguing, thought-provoking, documentary film Food, Inc. turned out to be. (Check out my review of the film by clicking here.) A discussion session followed the film and members of the jam-packed audience were able to hear from the director, Robert Kenner. In addition to Kenner, film advisor, Michael Pollan, and food safety advocate, Barbara Kowalcyk, were there for the discussion. There were a number of great questions asked from some audience members. My favorite exchange was when a man with a drawl asked the panel a great question, what are people in rural Kansas supposed to do since there aren’t farmers’ markets there selling locally-grown food? Kenner and Pollan replied that the point of the film is to get beyond the type of thinking that leads us to feel as though there is a one way solution, a panacea for all of our problems associated with the industrialized agri-business model in the U.S. Pollan remarked that “monoculture thinking” is the type that has put us into this industrialized farming mess in the first place. They pointed out that the movie offers a number of other suggestions that individuals can take, including “voting at the supermarket cash register.”
The film and its’ website offer numerous suggestions that people can easily adopt into their lifestyle: eat at home with your family more often, bring your lunch to work, read food labels, buy local when possible, buy organic when feasible, and go without meat one day a week (but really, why not go without meat more often than once per week?). The list goes on to offer even more suggestions that may take a little more effort, but are also worthy and attainable: tell your congress member that food safety is important to you, demand that they support protections for farm workers and food processors, and tell your school board to stop selling junk food in the snack machines.
But not everyone is excited that Food, Inc. is being released in cinemas across the U.S. Kenner has made statements that he has spent a large sum defending against lawsuits from industrial food producers, pesticide and fertilizer companies, and others. And in preparation for the film’s national release date, these folks have taken even further measures. One group of food producers even organized an alliance and started their own website, SafeFoodInc.org, as an answer to claims made in the movie. There is little doubt, this film has taken on some food and agri-business giants, including a focused attack against St. Louis-based Monsanto (who also started a website to counter claims made in the film: monsanto.com/foodinc).
The film should make significant contributions to the conversations taking place across the country on the U.S. food industry and help propel important movements and organizations all across the U.S. and world toward greater success. Movements like Slow Food USA, or organizations like Local Harvest, or even the Rural Foundation Advancement International. Whatever success the film sees, here’s hoping we all gain from it!
Keep your eye out for the film’s opening at a theater near you or buy it/rent it on DVD in September. The film opens Friday, June 12th in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York. The following Friday, June 19th it opens in many other locations across the country, including Washington, D.C. and Chicago.
Image captured from http://www.foodincmovie.com/.