Sadie came up to the house yesterday for an extended visit. My first thought was that maybe Alana and Bill had run out of pigs’ tails, but I later discovered that they were just away from home for the day. When their car rolled down the road in the late afternoon, Sadie chased after them as if she were tethered to their bumper by an invisible thread.
Sadie’s visit happened to coincide with my re-screening of Food Inc., an excellent documentary by filmmaker Robert Kenner and investigative journalist Eric Schlosser. Food Inc. lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the collusion of our government’s regulatory agencies, the USDA and FDA, which are headed by food industry insiders.
The nation’s food supply is now controlled by a handful of giant corporations that regularly put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers, and our environment.
We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, herbicide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won’t go bad, but we also have new strains of E. coli—the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually. We are plagued with widespread obesity, particularly among children, and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults and children–all of which is absolutely linked to the foods we eat.
This film had special meaning for me because, having ordered an omelet at a restaurant in Marathon last week, Paul became sick with food poisoning. Apparently he had been served eggs which are now the subject of the massive recall of eggs originating at two Iowa farms which have recalled half a billion potentially tainted eggs. “You almost had to make funeral arrangements for me,” Paul said without a hint of hyperbole. “I was sure I was going to die.”
I’m glad it didn’t come to that. Yet until I viewed Food Inc., I did not understand how an egg or two could have become so dangerous to someone as robust and healthy as Paul. The federal Centers for Disease Control said yesterday the number of tainted-egg illnesses, so far estimated as high as 1,300, will likely grow.
The problem, of course, is the high degree of centralization in our nation’s industrialized food supply, and the situation is becoming more acute as companies like Monsanto are forcing out of business independent farmers who refuse to buy into that company’s genetically-modified soybean system. Monsanto has hired private investigators and legions of lawyers to wipe out farmers who try to cling to traditional farming methods, and they’re being backed up by the government’s courts and regulatory agencies.
As Oprah discovered a few years back, in thirteen states that have passed so-called “Veggie Libel Laws” it is now illegal to make disparaging remarks about certain kinds of foods and you can be sued by these huge food companies and industry groups which can spend you into the ground and render you defenseless, the first amendment notwithstanding.
I tried to find an Internet link where you can view this important film, but came up dry. (For readers who are Netflix members, the full documentary is available as a “View Instantly” online video.) I did however find a link to PBS’s NOW, where host David Brancaccio interviews Robert Kenner and shows a few clips of Food Inc.’s highlights.
The 25-minute interview can be viewed here, and I strongly encourage you to take the time to view it:
This is a serious issue affecting every single person in America. We all eat something everyday, after all. The film reminds me that we must redouble our efforts at Estrella Vista to become self-sufficient in the production of our own food—food that we can trust not to kill us or make us sick.