If what we eat is produced in inhumane, unethical ways that strip the food of its nutrition, how does it then nourish our bodies and souls?

Food Inc. rends the veil of secrecy that hides the ugly part of America’s food supply from consumers. It’s like that cliche, "You don’t want to see how sausages are made.." Or your chicken sandwiches, or beef. Or anything made with corn–which is just about everything we consume.

Food Inc. shows how our food is the end product of a highly mechanized system, where workers are expendable, where 80% of the production of our meat is in the hands of four major companies, where chicken farmers are simply sharecroppers raising leased chicks for slaughter, where the rise of eColi can be directly traced to poor handling of meat and the overfeeding of animals with corn. 

In the case of cows with eColi, it’s pointed out that simply by feeding cows grass for a several weeks, the deadly eColi bacteria is greatly reduced in their digestive system (and we get a really gross view of their digestive system when a factory farm scientist reaches into a live cow’s gut to test it for E.coli.

But what is Beef Product Incorporation’s answer to E.coli contamination? Processing ground beef with ammonia, creating:

94% lean, frozen beef product in the form of small IQF (Individually Quick Frozen) chips or 60-pounds of chips compressed in to block. BPI products are a quality and economical replacement for a portion of lean boneless beef in most product formulations.

BPI hopes that one day soon its ammonia-treated beef product will  be in all ground beef dishes.

It’s shocking to see that healthy vegetables and fruits cost more than fast food–a result of farming practices which have turned our country’s arable land into corn fields where the crops are sold below production prices and feed lots where the corn is consumed by animals  (and now fish!) not meant to eat the grain.

While industrial food producers try to convince us that their mechanized methods are the best way to feed the world, this self-serving statement is disproved by Joel Salatin from Polyface Farms who rotates his animals and grasslands, raising chickens with a lower bacterial count than factory farmed birds and earning more per acre than his neighbors who factory farm. Gary Hirshberg, whose Stoneybrook Farms is the third largest yogurt producer in the country also practices sustainable, ethical production methods. These two voices show alternatives to the grotesque factories.

Robert Kenner’s direction contrasts bucolic farms–our food fantasties–with the megalotic monstrosities of where out food really comes from. At times brutal –the animals parts were really hard to take–Food Inc is a one of the most important documentaries about taking personal charge of our welfare and the welfare of our fellows and of the planet.

Food, Inc. – Companion Book here

Lisa Derrick

Lisa Derrick

Los Angeles native, attended UC Berkeley and Loyola Marymount University before punk rock and logophilia overtook her life. Worked as nightclub columnist, pop culture journalist and was a Hollywood housewife before writing for and editing Sacred History Magazine. Then she discovered the thrill of politics. She also appears frequently on the Dave Fanning Show, one of Ireland's most popular radio broadcasts.