One of the benefits of Netflix on-demand streaming is the number of documentaries I’ve had access to and am watching, one of which my daughter and I watched last night called Food, Inc., and the movie troubled both of us and I’m still thinking about it this morning.
I can’t find the reference for the article this morning, but there was a research study I read a few years ago that compared the “cost” of a calorie 200 years ago (what it took to grow, harvest, cook and eat a calorie) vs. the cost in effort and energy today. It was significantly greater in the past, of course, and the other statement that stuck in my mind was that the typical American household had more calories in their cupboards than the typical family ate in a month in 1850 (I’ll keep trying to find the data and do an update).
Watching this movie pointed out that the efficiencies of our industrial food system, combined with farm subsidies that keep costs for commodities at artificially low amounts, have kept costs low throughout the food creation and distribution system. While cheap calories have helped America become the envy of the world as we feed millions of us and others around the world, it has also caused us to opt for processed foods over raw veggies and meals that we have to cook and made half of we Americans fat (and I can attest to that!).
Usually I try not to be an alarmist, but the opacity of the industrial food system has become quite troublesome and this movie pointed it out better than anything I’ve ever watched. This is not my attempt to vilify the food industrial complex, but rather ensure that more of us demand to know what’s happening up the food creation chain so we know what we’re eating. I’ve often said that if people could take one tour of a cow, pig or chicken slaughterhouse we’d have a helluva lot of vegetarians in America, but same goes for the amount of crap that’s in our foods.
Take a peek at this trailer and I’d encourage you to rent it and then you can head over to their Food, Inc. website and take action. If it doesn’t open your eyes and change your habits, I’ll wave when I see you in the supermarket as you buy your big bag of Doritos and Jimmy Dean sausage for supper.