Thursday, July 16, 2009

food, inc.

Last night I went to see the documentary Food, Inc., and wow, it blew my mind. I'm sure that I won't capture everything from the film, so you can read my friend Julia's take on it by going here.

Ok, so here goes. I would like to think that in general, I am a pretty healthy person. I try to eat a lot of produce, lean meat and whole grains. However, this film made me realize that maybe I'm not putting as much good food into my body as I had previously thought.

I've always known that the government subsidizes corn. What I did not know is that corn can be found in various forms in almost every food you consume. From Coca Cola, to Sweetn' Low, to batteries and diapers. Yes, batteries and diapers. It makes sense if you think about it. Foods made with any sort of corn product (generally empty calories) can be produced cheaply, sold cheaply and bought cheaply. This explains why it's cheaper to buy a Big Mac than it is to buy a salad. Cheaper to buy soda than fresh broccoli. The fact is, many people do not have the luxury of eating fresh produce and grass-fed meat. A fact was thrown out in the movie: One in three people born after the year 2000 will develop early-onset diabetes. Within minority groups, that figure jumps to one in two.

I was shocked to learn how many animals are fed corn. From cows, to chickens, to pigs, to FISH. Yes, there are fish that are being trained to survive on corn-based food. Cows are designed to digest grass, not corn. This has resulted in the emergence of several new strands of E. coli. The problem is that each burger you eat could contain the meat of thousands of animals. So if one is contaminated, chances are that it's spread to the entire slaughterhouse. Not only that, E. coli has been found in foods like spinach and apple sauce. It's frightening to think of how deep the cross-contamination has spread, and has continued to do so without so much as a peep from the FDA.

I was especially touched by a mother-turned-lobbyist. Her son went from being a perfectly healthy child to dead from E.coli in a matter of twelve days. She has since dedicated her life to making sure that this doesn't happen to other people. A statement that stuck out to me was that she felt that the companies were more protected than her son. It made me incredibly sad that when asked how her eating habits have changed since her son's death, that she was afraid to answer for fear of getting sued under the veggie libel laws. Remember when Oprah was sued for so-called disparaging remarks against the beef industry? Yep, you can thank the food libel laws for allowing that to go to court.

Ultimately, there was so much information packed into the documentary that I'm really unable to summarize it all. I can tell you that I am going to make a huge effort from now on to buy locally, and absolutely am going to be eating grass-fed meat from now on. Yes, it's more expensive. But I think that my long term health is worth the money. I think the most important point that I took away from the film is if we stop buying, they will stop producing. WE as the consumers have the power to dictate how these huge companies do business. Now it's time for us to use that power.


Nik said...

good post! I've never seen the documentry but it seems informative--an eye opener.

there are some small steps that i've taken to lessen the impact of harsh chemicals in my diet: eat organic when I can. not everything. it can get expensive. but things like broccoli, strawberries, and peaches are worth spending a few more cents on. I've also started a container garden (in the summer) where I grow lettuce and tomato. it works, i guess. small steps are key, I think.

thanks for posting this blog. it's awesome to get people thinking about his stuff!!!

Julia L. said...

Fantastic post, of course! I was so happy we went. And... I'm inspired to walk over to the Farmer's Market! Yay!

Unknown said...

Nik - that's an excellent point. little changes can add up to big ones!

Jules - thanks for letting me know about the movie, i'm so glad we went! i never made it to the market today but i'm going to stop by the one that's over in union square on saturday am.

Anonymous said...

I really want to watch that. My mom has celiacs disease (she can't eat wheat) and she is also allergic to corn, soy and a ton of other things. her diet has changed drastically and while she's very educated about health/diet it's always good to have new information. I'll definitely make sure to tell her/the rest of my family and friends about this.

(alishalynn_ from LJ... this isn't letting me post that for some reason)