“Food, Inc.” is Hard to Swallow

I didn’t think anything could make America’s Industrial-Caloric Big Food/Corporate Farming Complex less appetizing than Eric Schlosser’s book Fast Food Nation. But now comes Food, Inc., a documentary that, according to early reviews, may have us exploring the option of never eating again. One troubling review is here.

We really have cooked up a dilemma here. With a population as large as ours, some kind of industrial farming/food production seems almost unavoidable, and yet, as Fast Food Nation and this film demonstrate, the sheer size of the industry and the astonishing amounts of food that must be produced almost demand environmental damage, cruelty to vast herds of animals, subhuman working conditions, and a “race to the bottom” cost-cutting mentality that sometimes puts health and good nutrition second to profits.

Food Inc. reminds us, among other things, that cows never evolved to eat corn, which is what they’re stuffed on in the factory farms. The result is that the typical cow gut teems with deadly E. coli bacteria, so the animals must be constantly pumped up with antibiotics to prevent disease. Hello, frequent recalls of ground beef and  all kinds of tainted products.

What are the alternatives? We have this gigantic population, most of whom live in the cities, many of whom don’t have any land for gardening. It’s heartening to read that in World War II, about 40% of the country’s food was produced in small “victory gardens,” but imagine the personal changes and difficulties that would be required to approach that number again.

Obviously, this is yet another argument for embracing a vegetarian diet. The mass production of vegetable and grain products isn’t perfect, but it’s the picture of sanity and cleanliness compared to the meat biz. A recent update on my ongoing vegification  efforts is here.

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