A Review of Food Inc. by Jonathan Leonard
Do you know where your food comes from? In Food Inc. filmmaker Robert Kenner takes us on a trip deep behind the scenes of the American supermarket to bear witness to the true origins of modern food. By following the supply chain all the way back to its source, he unveils a massive economy of scale where uniformity and low-cost production methods reign supreme. In the course of his investigations Kenner steps on the toes of some Multinational Corporations (MNCs) who become quite displeased that their marketing campaigns featuring pristine pastures and healthy cows are being tarnished by images of conveyor-belt slaughterhouses and livestock wading in their own feces.
The behind the scenes footage reveals a side of factory farming which is utterly appalling in regards to its treatment of animals and its treatment of human workers. Unfortunately, the horror doesn’t stop there. The amount of ecological damage being inflicted by these practices is enormous. It comes in a wide variety of forms, including: open pit cesspools, increased antibiotic resistances, loss of biodiversity, and various unintended side effects of genetic modification.
From a profits based perspective, factory farming is an amazingly successful model. So successful that a handful of companies have emerged to completely dominate the market. They finance the facilities of their contracted farmers to keep them in debt so that they can control every component a livestock’s life; from what it eats, to what it’s injected with, to when it’s slaughtered. Total control. If a farmer attempts to alter the process then their contract will be revoked. The MNCs run processing factories which exclusively employ impoverished (and expendable) workers. Also under corporate control are the American regulatory agencies – either influenced by corporate lobbyists or headed by people who made their fortunes in factory farming. Corporations can seriously affect, or even create, laws such as The Farm Bill which contains highly controversial subsidization of corn and soy. Laws have even been passed which make it illegal to criticize corporate food or photograph factory farms.
What the viewer takes away from the film is a better understanding of cheater economics. One where the foods are sold at a price which doesn’t represent the costs of production. The cost is altered in part by corporate and government interference, but also an externalization of costs such as environmental damage, health afflictions, and societal degradation.