Starring: Eric Schlosser, Michael Pollan, Barbara Kowalcyk
Directed by: Robert Kenner (debut)
It’s widely known that films like “Super Size Me” and “Fast Food Nation” inspired many meat eaters nationwide to drop their cheeseburgers in an effort to make healthier food choices (soy anyone?). It must’ve been the scene in the latter movie where we witness cow stomachs sloshing down a conveyer belt in a slaughterhouse that turned everyone into vegetarians.
If films like “Fast Food Nation” influence you’re eating habits, then prepare yourself for a hunger strike. In the new documentary “Food Inc.,” filmmaker Robert Kenner delves deep into the food industry and past the fast-food joints to uncover the real reason our food is making us sick. Disregard the disgusting truths you’ve heard before. Kenner gets to the root of the problem and pulls back the curtain on a multi-billion dollar industry that’s not only draining the blood of livestock, but of the consumer as well.
Describing the American consumer base as living in a “pastoral fantasy” and who believes everything on grocery store shelves is really all-natural, Kenner’s thorough investigation takes hard facts, humor, and heart-wrenching testimony and combines them into a film that’s easy to swallow.
The same can’t be said about the food being produced by the industrial companies spotlighted but not heard from in the film. Not surprising, the overall majority of the corporations Kenner hoped to feature in his eye-opening documentary are nowhere to be found. The words “declined to be interviewed” flash on the screen at the perfect moment just after Kenner has laid out all the evidence he has to win his case. Unfortunately, no one is there to defend, which makes the doc a one-sided affair.
But that shouldn’t be held against Kenner. He has given a brave look into a world many people take for granted. Unless you’re a health nut, who really wants to think about where their food comes from? Most people are comfortable accepting the everyday event of eating as a kind of magic trick. You walk into a store and the food is somehow miraculous there every single time. You buy the food, cook the food, and eat the food and no one gets hurt (unless, of course, there’s E. Coli in your ground beef or Salmonella in your peanut butter).
Kenner calls out the magician here and forces you to look at the big picture. From ties between the food industry and politics to the stronghold the fast-food chains have on farmers and agra-businesses, he is unapologetic with what he teaches the audience. Call it a crash course in agricultural history and economics if you want, but “Food Inc.” should be commended for a hard-earned victory, even if it was ultimately by forfeit.