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| | 1 hr 34 min | Documentary, Special Interest

Food, Inc. is a documentary by Emmy award winner Robert Kenner. Released in 2008, Kenner uses the cinematic platform to inform viewers of what has become of the American food industry. He cleverly breaks his film into three segments. The first segment delves into the practice and implications meat production in the United States. The second segment of the film deals with the industry of grain and vegetable production. The third and final segment examines current laws and realities concerning the American public.

Food, Inc. wastes no time getting to the heart of its matter. The film takes us on a journey to a Tyson chicken farm, home to around 300,000 chickens. We get a glimpse of the daily operations of a chicken farm. Tyson chickens never see sunlight and are merely raised to make money. The chicken growers pump the chickens with chemicals to make them grow faster and to particularly enlarge their breasts. This practice highlights the inhumanity of the chicken industry. The chickens have been pumped with chemicals to reach full muscular development within five weeks. However, their legs cannot keep up with this rapid growth, thus leading to decreased motor skills. The film also offers a look at beef production. It reveals that cows are constantly fed corn because it has little to no nutritional value and takes a long time to digest. This fattens the cow. Cows are also factory-farmed, and manure gets everywhere in the slaughterhouses. As cows are slaughtered and butchered, traces of manure can easily infiltrate the meat and cause e. coli and other dangerous viruses to manifest in the meat that is sold to consumers.

The second segment of Food, Inc. shows a connection between the meat industry and the mass production vegetable and grain industry. Vegetables and grains are processed in the same factories as beef and other meats. This explains the recent outbreaks of e. coli and other viruses on spinach: it cannot manifest itself on vegetables. Rather, contaminants from the beef work their way onto the vegetables. The second segment generally exposes the flawed vegetable and grain production industry.

The third and final segment of the film deals with government involvement and the industry as a whole. In theory, the FDA and USDA are government protection agencies designed to prevent disease outbreaks. However, because there are so many different food agencies, there are discrepancies that exist. The third segment also spotlights the trend of making cheap, unhealthy food, which is contributing to the growing obesity rates in the United States.

Food, Inc. is a powerful film for every American consumer. It lifts the veil on the American food industry. Not only is it civically important, but the film itself is also a cinematic triumph, having been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary. The film is an important, relevant piece to view for everyone who eats food made or processed in America.

Eric Schlosser, Michael Pollan, Joe Salatin, Gary Hirschberg
Robert Kenner
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