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Do You Eat?

If the answer is “yes”, then you should probably watch Food, Inc. Lucky for us, it’s on WNED tonight, airing on a program called POV at 9pm. This award-winning, Oscar-nominated film explores our vast, industrialized food system. Even if you’re not a huge foodie, if you eat (or feed people you care about), it would behoove you to take the time to watch this film. We’ve included a trailer below for those of you that might have missed it.

The film, guided by investigative journalist Eric Scholsser and author/food-guru Michael Pollan, takes the time to look at how our food system currently functions, what is wrong with it, and what we as consumers can do to fix it. Time and time again, what we fail to realize as a people, is that money trumps all. When it comes to food dollars, we have the control, and we are making the decisions about how our food is made, processed and sold every time we spend a dollar at the supermarket or the drive-thru.

Notable Quotes from Food, Inc.

“There is this deliberate veil, this curtain that’s drawn between us and where our food is coming from. The industry doesn’t want you to know the truth about what you’re eating because if you knew, you might not want to eat it.”

“The way we eat has changed more in the last 50 years than in the previous 10,000, but the image that’s used to sell the food…you go into the supermarket and you see pictures of farmers. The picket fence and the silo and the 1930s farmhouse and the green grass. The reality is…it’s not a farm, it’s a factory. That meat is being processed by huge multi-national corporations that have very little to do with ranches and farmers.”

Facts from Food, Inc.

  • In the 1970s, the top five beef packers controlled about 25% of the market. Today, the top four control more than 80% of the market.

  • In 1998, the USDA implemented microbial testing for salmonella and E.coli 0157h7 so that if a plant repeatedly failed these tests, the USDA could shut down the plant. After being taken to court by the meat and poultry associations, the USDA no longer has that power.

  • In 1972, the FDA conducted 50,000 food safety inspections. In 2006, the FDA conducted only 9,164

The talk of where our food comes from has gained momentum over the last few years, and this movie has launched that conversation in parts of the country that may have never gotten around to asking these questions otherwise. Food, Inc.–along with Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution on ABC–are going a long way to reveal to Americans all the things they never wanted to know (but should) about our cheap and dangerous dysfunctional food system.

I’ve spoken at many Western New York meetings and conferences about the importance of eating local food over the past few years, and I am amazed at the increasing numbers with which people of all walks of life attend these events, looking for a way to make changes in the diets of their family and their community. Initially, these conversations were left to the “health nuts”, or the mom’s whose kids had allergies or health issues. Today it is a wide range of people who attend these events, looking for answers and alternatives. Here in Buffalo we’ve seen chefs become the champions for local food more than any other specific segment of the population. The choice is ours, and in regards to future generations, the responsibility for “righting” the system is also ours.

If you can’t catch Food, Inc. on WNED tonight, or forget to set your DVR, you can rent it from Blockbuster or Netflix.  It’s an important film, one that will change the way you feel about the food you eat.

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