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Food, Inc.
Old 08-10-2009, 08:12 PM   #1
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Food, Inc.

I went to see this movie Sunday night.

It is a documentary based on the work of Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser and one of my favorites, The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan.

While I will always appreciate the depth offered in a book like Pollan's, the movie had a lot going for it. They had some very illuminating conversations and video from industrial chicken farming operations, CAFOs used to raise cattle, and a fairly large segment on patented seeds. They interviewed the CEO of Stonyfield Farms, Joel Saladin of Polyface Farms (one of the real heroes of the grass-fed movement) and did a very fair job of reporting on Wal-mart's foray into organics.

Other corporations got raked over the coals, and while it was by no means kind to capitalism, they pointed out industry-affiliated political appointees of both Republicans and Democratics.

I found it fascinating, but was of course struck by the idea that only well-to-do folks who already knew a lot of this stuff would be watching this movie. What I wish is that it could be shown in lower income high schools where fast food culture predominates. The segment where they interviewed a family that was struggling to feed their family was especially sobering. Basically the dollar menu at McD's is an easier choice than the grocery store where many fresh vegetables are all more than a dollar a pound.

I'd recommend it to anyone interested in our food supply. I think that what surprised me is to learn that even if I don't eat at fast food restaurants, I'm still eating from the same sources if I don't buy local, pastured meats and local vegetables.

The number of products made from corn and soybeans is startling. All in all, a good movie. You can watch the trailer here:
Official Food, Inc. Movie Site - Hungry For Change?
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Old 08-11-2009, 04:43 AM   #2
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I am looking forward to watching the movie when it comes on the DVD myself. I am kind of afraid of watching the movie though. (Once you know the truth, you cannot go back to your happy cheap ways...) I did read a part of Fast Food Nation and I did see a clip of the movie (with a family having to choose McDonald over broccoli because broccoli cost so much more) - I watched the clip and the writer (or was it the director?) of the movie being interviewed on PBS - NOW, or maybe it was Jon Stewart Show.

When I see organic eggs and chicken at stores, I often wonder what the chickens are being fed... organic soy, corn and grains?? I buy Omega-3 eggs (more Omega3 than Omega6 ratio wise) and I wonder if they feed them flaxseeds, and if they do if they feed them whole (with hull) or ground up (oxidized) - if they are ground up, would the eggs in them contain trans fats? I know I sound like a neurotic nut case, but I am not. I just try to avoid bad fat (oil and meat products) and bad sugar.

I went to WF today and they had pasture fed raw cream (raw is OK in CA as long as it is certified by CA... Most cream is ultra pasteurized) and it cost over $12. Even the organic cream only costs $2 for the same size. Organic what? organic but ultra pasteurized.

Anyway, I heard somewhere that the cost of food has gone down over the years relative to everything else, so maybe I should budget more money for food in general, but until everyone gets on the same page, the price of anything healthy would cost tons and I really don't want to spend tons of money (close to $20 for a pasture raised chicken while you can get one regular kind for $3.50 on sale.)

Sarah,

Do you think you will eat differently now that you watched the movie? Have you started eating differently after reading Fast Food Nation?
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Old 08-11-2009, 07:42 AM   #3
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The segment where they interviewed a family that was struggling to feed their family was especially sobering. Basically the dollar menu at McD's is an easier choice than the grocery store where many fresh vegetables are all more than a dollar a pound.
Interesting. Twice in the same week I hear (essentially) the same thought.

3 Questions you ask me a lot, about money

Q: Why does it cost so much to live in New York City?

So I'm going to tell you how life is in NYC, and you would think you'd never do that, but you would, if you lived there. Here are some examples:
You would eat out every meal. Really. It's just how things are done. Home kitchens are small, takeout is cheap, and you pass a great fast-food opportunity every fifteen yards.
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Old 08-11-2009, 09:18 AM   #4
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I just put it on SAVE at Netflix. TY
Years ago I caught a documentary on TV about American obesity and corn syrup in foods you would never expect to see it added to. Once my mouth closed itself, I made a promise to myself not to buy processed foods with corn syrup (or other types) added as a sweetener. That became and still is a real challenge to do. It is possible.
Will this movie convince me to stop eating meat?
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Old 08-11-2009, 09:43 AM   #5
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tmm, I started trying to eat differently after reading Omnivore's Dilemma. I think they takeaway message is that high fat meats and dairy products should be sparing in our diets (like what Pollan says in his follow-up book In Defense of Food) and we should be eating more vegetables. The focus for me (and him) is locally produced, not necesssarily organic. I don't really care about organic so much.

I feel good when I buy poultry and meat from local farmers--even though it is more expensive. Buying whole chickens would be cheaper, but I really prefer just buying the breast packages. If I know the animals have had a decent life, then it just tastes better to me. The breast packs (20 lbs) are $8.70 per pound from the farmer who raises pastured poultry in Darlington, SC. Four 5lb whole chickens are $60. Whole turkeys are $6 lb.

Animals eating a natural diet and foraging means they aren't clustered so close together, which increases the chance for disease. Frankly, seeing the meat packing plants (where the vast majority of meats are processed, not just MickyD's) is the most horrifying part.

One part of the movie was a mom whose little boy died from infected beef. It was recalled 15 days after his death. Very sad. The trouble is, with consolidation in the industry, there are only a handful of processors left and their health and safety records are atrocious as well.

And you know, we'd probably weigh less, have less incidence of diabetes and other lifestyle diseases if we ate more plants and less meat. Food for thought.

I hope that the movie will have a lasting effect on my buying habits, and I'm pleased to report that our local farmers market is located walking distance from the poorest areas of Charleston and also accepts food stamps. It won't cancel out the McDonald's effect, but maybe it will help.

I agree about the corn syrup. It won't make you stop eating meat, but it will make you wonder where the heck it came from.
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Old 08-11-2009, 09:53 AM   #6
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DD read The Jungle in seventh grade and by ninth grade was a vegetarian (plus cheese and eggs). She would love this movie. Not being squeamish, I would probably eat a hot dog while watching it (and reading The Jungle). And then complain no matter what I do, I just can't lose weight!
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Old 08-11-2009, 01:02 PM   #7
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Thank you Sarah for your input on what changes you've made in your eating habits. I wish I could get my hands on pasture fed chickens here. I even looked through localharvest.org but nothing is even remotely close to me.

Mass production of food can be scary (sources coming from many animals), and locally grown meats feel always safer.
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Old 08-11-2009, 01:15 PM   #8
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Thank you Sarah for your input on what changes you've made in your eating habits. I wish I could get my hands on pasture fed chickens here. I even looked through localharvest.org but nothing is even remotely close to me.

Mass production of food can be scary (sources coming from many animals), and locally grown meats feel always safer.
Great link! There is a free range animal farm within 20 miles of my location.

Road trip!!!!
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Old 08-11-2009, 01:19 PM   #9
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tmm, my folks ship, as Darlington is a pretty good drive from here. I get my order overnighted in a cooler and just put it in the work fridge (need to have a big one) until I go home.

David White, aka "the chickenman" is quite a character!
Oaklyn Plantation Free Range Chicken: Homepage

You may be able to inquire at your State Dept of Agriculture about alternatives or ask at a farmers market. There may be farmers that don't sell retail from the farm, but do at a nearby market. That would be the best possible solution.

Freebird, I'm so glad you found some local folks to buy from.
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Old 08-11-2009, 01:23 PM   #10
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tmm, my folks ship, as Darlington is a pretty good drive from here. I get my order overnighted in a cooler and just put it in the work fridge (need to have a big one) until I go home.

David White, aka "the chickenman" is quite a character!
Oaklyn Plantation Free Range Chicken: Homepage

You may be able to inquire at your State Dept of Agriculture about alternatives or ask at a farmers market. There may be farmers that don't sell retail from the farm, but do at a nearby market. That would be the best possible solution.

Freebird, I'm so glad you found some local folks to buy from.
Me too. First thing I'll ask for (nicely) is their Dept of Ag & Markets certificate. I had a small business (non perishable food) experiment going out of my home from 2003-06, so I'll chat them up about that.
Then I'll go from there.
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Old 08-11-2009, 01:24 PM   #11
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I had a small business (non perishable food) experiment going out of my home from 2003-06

I don't know about the rest of you, but that sure sounds like a moonshiner to me!
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Old 08-11-2009, 02:28 PM   #12
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I don't know about the rest of you, but that sure sounds like a moonshiner to me!
I wish...
It was a natural popcorn (shipped in bulk from MidWest) and spice business. It was an experiment on my part to see how I would do as a sole proprietor of a small business. I got my "stuff" onto shelves at several local small businesses, but did not turn a profit. It was a great learning experience for me, and I did not get hurt financially.
I realized a great tax writeoff while I was still w*rking full time, when I donated my unused inventory in 2006 to the local American Legion.
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Old 08-11-2009, 08:25 PM   #13
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Here's the problem that I see. Let's say that tomorrow every person in America saw the light, and decided that they wanted to buy local, and eat food from farms like Polyface farms. My guess is that it wouldn't work, because there are just too many people for anything other than mass-produced food.
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Old 08-11-2009, 09:02 PM   #14
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Grow your own? See purslane on another thread.
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Old 08-11-2009, 09:42 PM   #15
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Oh, yeah, The Jungle! I read it many years ago but I remember it very well. Enough to turn your stomach. I heard Morgan Spurlock speak at a local college a few years ago. He wrote "Super Size Me" about his experiment with eating nothing but mega-calorie, bad fat laden fast food over a period of time and the negative effect it had on his health. I find it pretty easy to eat food that is quick and easy and not terribly expensive provided you like things like whole grain cereal, skim milk, whole grain bread, nuts, fruits, raw veggies, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc. I am depressed about young children who do not have access to healthy foods as an alternative to a fatty diet because their parents do not see the value in them.
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Old 08-12-2009, 11:34 AM   #16
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Here's the problem that I see. Let's say that tomorrow every person in America saw the light, and decided that they wanted to buy local, and eat food from farms like Polyface farms. My guess is that it wouldn't work, because there are just too many people for anything other than mass-produced food.
Same reason we don't have to be worried about everyone suddenly seeing the light and saving for retirement--ain't gonna happen.

Consumer spending and McDonald's are still pretty much a sure thing.
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