Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Food Inc and My Soapbox

I have been very eager for Heather to watch Food Inc.  As a lover of both the enviroment and animals, and an advocate for healthy eating...I always thought it was something she should see.

I watched this a couple of years ago.  And it is one of the reasons that when I can buy organic I do.  It is why I buy organic milk and organic eggs. 

The movie is NOT pro-vegetarian, it's not PETA propoganda.  It is not republican or democrat (it even goes to specifically name names on both sides of the aisle).  If I had to sum it up in one sentence, the movie is about some of the moral and ethical problems with our food system.  Not just animals, but crops, seeds, farmers, the FDA.

There is one problem with the movie though.  It's not for everyone...because not everyone wants to change.  Once you watch it, you have to do better.  Once you know better, you do better. 

So after going to our local library to check it out, we sat down on Sunday night to watch it.  Heather cried off and on throughout the movie.  I hadnt expected that.  And...she's been a little grumpy ever since...because the movie presents some problems with our goverment and regulations pertaining to our food that aren't an easy fix.  But like I told her...we DO get a choice.  We WILL do better. 

So if you have the time and want to, I encourage you to watch it.  It's actually showing on PBS tonight...so check your local listings if you are here in the States.

I was talking to someone about this today and she said "Yeah but, that's what the chickens and cows are raised for...to be eaten".  And I totally agree.  But it is HOW they are raised that is important. 

Have any of you seen the movie Temple Grandin?  It's an amazing movie starring Claire Danes.  And it's true.  Temple was born with autism in the 1960's, long before anyone really understood all of its facets.  She ended up creating and designing a more humane feedlot system.  And she said "Just because nature is cruel, we don't have to be".

Cows weren't meant to eat corn.  They were meant to eat grass.  You know what happens when they eat corn?  They get sick.  Think E.coli.  And how do they treat that?  Antibodics.  And those come to us.  It used to take chickens 68 days to be ready for slaughter.  Now with drugs...they grow faster and bigger. 
And do you know one of the problems with that?  The breasts are now so big that their legs cannot support the weight.  Many of the chickens can only walk a few feet and then have to lay down.  That's if their legs don't break first.

I remember in college when they first released the undercover video of T.Y.S.ON. chicken farms.  I was so heartbroken that I refused to eat that brand anymore...which means no K.F.C...since they are their supplier.  However, I didnt realize that also meant Taco Bell.  Same company. 

So it gets tricky.

I just read an awesome book called Food Rules.  I will share that with you tomorrow since I have been on my soapbox long enough already.

This is just going to be a huge push for me to eat healthier and make healthier choices.  It has nothing to do with the scale.

This part is at the end of the movie, and the way they present it, with "This land is your land" playing in the background, always makes me cry.

Things You Can Do

You can vote to change this system . Three times a day .

Buy from companies that treat workers, animals, and the environment with respect.

When you go to the supermarket, choose foods that are in season. Buy foods that are organic. Know what’s in your food. Read labels.

The average meal travels 1,500 miles from the farm to the supermarket. Buy foods that are grown locally. Shop at farmers’ markets. Plant a garden. (Even a small one.)

Cook a meal with your family and eat together.

 Everyone has a right to healthy food. Make sure your farmers’ market takes food stamps. Ask your school board to provide healthy school lunches.

The FDA and USDA are supposed to protect you and your family. Tell Congress to enforce food safety standards and re-introduce Kevin’s Law.

If you say grace, ask for food that will keep us and the planet healthy.

You can change the world with every bite.

Hungry for change ? Go to takepart.com / foodinc


  1. I'm sort of addicted to food documentaries. There are many things I've stopped and started doing because of them. Damn you Micheal Moore (his movies are a gateway drug). Have you seen "King Corn", "The Botany of Desire", "Food Matters", "Fresh"....or...I know there are more. I really like Michael Pollan, although I think he changed his name to suit his career.

  2. Good blog, Amy. I agree with everything you said and Food Inc. made me super sad too. I'm in a very privileged position in that I can afford to feed me and my family organic everything. Typically, I buy organic meat, eggs, dairy and get most of my produce from a local CSA that is mostly pesticide free/organic but if not, it is all local from local small farmers.

    All this said, most people in this country CANNOT afford to eat this way. I spent $18 on 3 pounds of organic CHICKEN THIGHS (not even chicken breasts!) today. And guess what? It was ON SALE by 80 cents per pound. Yikes. Most of my friends and family cannot afford to spend that kind of dough on their meat and I totally understand that. I totally 'get' while families spend $8 to feed a family of 4 at McDonalds instead of $20 to feed them at home. It isn't fair. I don't know what the answer is but part of it is making sure that people in this country are being paid fair wages, have health insurance that isn't sucking them dry, good education and teachers to help them make the right choices and THEN we can start choosing organic and free-range and grass fed whenever we want.

    Good blog though. You'll educate a lot of people today and that's a great step!

  3. Sherry-you should know I left a super cute and clever comment on your blog today and then blogger told me I wasn't authorized to leave comments and deleted the entire thing. Blah Its the thought that counts.

    i totally hear you about the prices. I had $40 left over this week from my paycheck to try and buy enough groceries to last until NEXT paycheck (two weeks). I didnt buy organic eggs or milk, i just bought regular...and the eggs in particular..just the thought of them make me a little ill. I feel guilty. But you know in the movie, one of the points Michael P tries to make is that #1. if we bought less of the crap stuff, we could afford more of the better stuff. and #2. Meat should be a treat...not every day. I know that I probably spend at least $30 a month on soda. SO, if I could stop, then I could buy something organic. As for the meat being a treat, I think we are going to do meat free monday and a couple other days a week. It just making little steps at first...you know, just doing what you can do.

  4. Being from KS, and living once in Iowa and Nebraska, I've been around farming and ranching for my entire life. My grandparents ran a hog farm for 30 years. But I will tell you it wasn't like any huge company. They were clean and ran it by regulations, etc. Yes, they used antibiotics, but only when needed. The only pork we ate, came from the farm. Another part of all this is the small farmer. Those huge companies take over with their 'no care' and 'stuff 'em full of drugs' attitudes and run the little guy off. If more of us bought organic, those little farmers would 'come back' and the prices would go down.

    I also practically live at the farmers market during season and have a garden of my own. I try to buy as much produce from them as possible. And luckily my husband is a hunter; I can't tell you the last time I even bought beef.

    I haven't watched any documentaries, but now I'll keep an eye out for them.
    Great post Amy!

  5. Thanks Amy, excellent, thoughtful post. I try to do the best I can. Just this week I finally placed my order for a sh*tload of beef from the farm down the street, where the cows are treated well and fed only grass. NOT cheap!!!! I always do free range eggs and organic milk. Its hard to do it all, but baby steps are good too.

  6. GREAT MOVIE...great post! We have started growing our own veggies, and we try not to eat any domestic meats...one step at a time is right...you keep that soapbox right where it is...we need to hear these things over and over!!

  7. I haven't eaten any eggs except the ones we gather on my inlaws ranch since this movie and can't even eat organic, free range chicken. It surprised me that the poultry conditions bothered me the most. I always tell people that I'm not vegetarian or vegan, I just want to know that my food is obtained humanely and with respect.

  8. "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" is another good documentary...

  9. Great POST! Great Movie. Great Soap Box ~ I have to dust mine off from time to time. I have been Vegan for 2.5 years. I don't miss a thing ~ well...fresh mozzarella ...but that's really it. We are what we eat and if we are eating animals that are pumped full antibiotics and hormones and that have lived a miserable life than it is no surprise that we too will be large and miserable.

  10. I was pretty amazed with this film. With being in the food industry for as long as I was I was completely surprised about ALL of it! We actually live about 3 hours from Polyface farms and I have been wanting to go down there and bye some meats from that man. He is a genius. You can look up his farm and see how he is a self sustained farmer. He does not rely on ANY outside "help" (as in aids to help his animals grow). They have figured out how to do it the right way and the healthy way.
    After watching this I will now only buy free range chicken and eggs. I am super weary of buying beef and pork. I have been going to these really great farmers markets by my house and am going to start buying my meats from them. It is so scary how much control the government has on our whole lives!
    Watch this movie if you have not ladies...it WILL change your life and how you feed your family. These are only TRUE facts that they give you and it is the best for your health to learn a lot from this film!

  11. I really loved this post. I have been using organics for a couple of years now. I buy organic whenever possible. I cannot afford organic meat most of the time. But I know I should try to.

    I hate how these animals are treated. I think we all need to take responsibility for change in our country. We cannot simply blame it on one thing or person or company or politician. We are all Americans, this should be HIGH PRIORITY stuff. It is the future of our children and theirs.

    Thank you again for a terrific "make you think" post!

  12. This topic hits close to home for me. I was raised on a ranch and have a Masters Degree in Animal Science, Beef cattle Reproduction and Nutrition. My husband is working on completing his PhD in Feedlot Nutrition and currently runs a feedlot. So you can see that our lives are directly effected by this industry. A lot of information in films and internet is extremely biased. You do not see movies made about the positive things about our industry. I could sit here and type arguments for every negative thing that has been said about "industry beef production" however I feel that it is worth more if you do the real research on your own. Visit reputable web pages that are research based such as Beef.org. Research the other side of the argument and then make your decisions. Going through 6 years of higher education in this field I know that when you eat beef that is not all natural or grass fed you are not eating hormones and antibiotics. Another thing that people don't understand is the amount of land it takes to grow cattle on grass only...it is not practical. In every industry you have bad people that do bad things but don't base your decisions solely on the bad things that you hear. Research the other side of the story.

  13. Anonymous-I would respond to you privately, but seeing how you posted anonymous...which i always enjoy...i cant.

    Seeing how both you and your husband are much more educated than me, and in this area we are discussing no less, I can't really argue with you.

    What I do know, FOR me...is that me ingesting anti-biotics or 'roids isnt my biggest concern when it comes to the cattle, pigs, chickens...etc. It is the treatment, it's the big companies, is the processing. Not enough land to have cows grass fed? I assume you mean to sustain the current amount of beef the united states consumes now? I assume you are right. However...go with me on this one...well...you probably wont agree...that is it the subsidizing of the meat industry that has made meat so cheap that the demand is so high? If we actually ate less meat... that would be bad for..OH...people who make money of of it. I feel you.

    I think, and hope, that most people realize there are three sides to every story...yours, mine, and the truth. It's like saying one group of anything is bad or terrible. You are missing the good and everything in between.

    We are lucky when it comes to beef though, because heathers people raise their own cattle, who luckily eat grass...so we are going to make sure we pitch in when one or two go to slaughter. For sure not everyone has that option.

    I will for sure take a look at the website you linked...although I think it's kinda funny bc wouldnt it be like going to a website for people who love crack cocaine for example? They want you to buy it, they want you to do it...will they say it's bad for you or that it has many benefits?

  14. Great film. I would highly recommend reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and family. It's a wonderful read with lots of great information.