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 Directed by Robert Kenner, Food, Inc. is a brilliantly put together documentary film about the United States food industry. The film goes behind the scenes to provide an inside look at how food gets from the farm into our supermarkets and restaurants. You will be surprised and shocked by some of the captured footage provided in the film, astounded at some of the stories told, and flabbergasted at many of the hard, cold facts relayed about our food system. But the film is not simply intended to shock the audience. The film examines many facets of our food system and by doing so, raises many important questions and leaves the viewers with a number of good suggestions on how individuals can help to change the way the U.S. currently does business–there are a number of easy suggestions for everyone, too! The film does not take an in-your-face, pedantic or preachy tone. Instead, the film offers a balanced look at the problems with industrialized food operations. Radicals on both sides will be disappointed: the film doesn’t advise you to stop eating meat or stop shopping at Wal-Mart, but it does implore you to think about what you eat and to question the status quo. If you aren’t the type to analyze your lunch, watch the film. If you are a seasoned thinker that often ponders what’s for dinner, watch the film. If you haven’t thought about your meal in some time, revisit the topic by watching the film. Whoever you are, just watch the film; for committing 94 minutes of your time, you will both be entertained and gain additional perspective. The film is thought-provoking and, in the end, optimistic. The film features two writers that narrate most of the film, Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation,feature film) and Michael Pollan (Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food: An Easter’s Manifesto). Schlosser is considered a leading expert on industrialized food and Pollan is an all-around food expert and Science and Environmental Journalism Professor. Schlosser and Pollan bring a great deal of knowledge to the conversation that the film helps to facilitate. But the real stars of the film are the less well-known folks. Especially owner and farmer at Polyface Farms, Joel Salatin. Salatin, a self-described “grass-farmer,” introduces the audience to his alternative farm operations based in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. In contrast to the increasingly less natural and less sustainable farming practices of industrialized farms, Polyface Farms’ pastoral model is one based upon ecological balance. Salatin is a principled man that believes food production should be based on the ideal of respect. That is, respect for the farm’s customers, the workers, the animals, and the earth. He provided a number of choice quotes for the film, but perhaps the statement that sums up his values best is one of the last in the film. He said, “A culture that views a pig as a pile of protoplasmic inanimate structure to be manipulated by whatever creative design the human can foist on that critter will probably view individuals within its community and other cultures in the community of nations with the same kind of disdain, disrespect and controlling-type mentality.” It’s refreshing to see a hard-working farmer star in a film. There are several other heroic farmers featured in Food, Inc., including a chicken farmer who opened up her industrial chicken house to the cameras to reveal some disturbing images inside. She wound up losing her Perdue contract when she refused to update the structure to one that is entirely closed to the open-air. As well, there is a farmer who went to court to battle Monsanto who sued him because he was trying to help other farmers clean their seeds. And yet another who invokes the spirit of all of these farmers when he said, “people have got to start demanding good, wholesome food [from] us and we’ll deliver…I promise you.” It is clear that Food, Inc. is a film with a goal: to instigate discussion on all topics food. Kenner directs an entertaining film that uses visually engaging images (occasionally even computer graphic-based imagery), as well as compelling people to help initiate conversation on a timely issue. And if you want to know even more, there is a companion book available by the same name that provides an in-depth examination on many of the challenges raised by the film. (Click here to link to the official site where you can link to book purchasing websites.)]]>

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