An important class of food critics

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by Brian Devore | July 3, 2009 • The movie Food, Inc. has been getting a lot of reviews since it was released a few weeks ago. Many critics like what the movie has to say about the state of our food system; others aren’t as enamored. But perhaps the most important review I’ve read so far was penned by my 10-year-old neighbor, Will. After all, if true change in our food and farming system is to come about, it’s Will’s generation that needs to get the message. Here’s his take on the film:

Loon Commons is a blog of the Land Stewardship Project. Contact Loon Commons at bdevore@landstewardshipproject.org

“The other day I saw the movie Food, Inc. It made me really think about what people eat these days. Huge Industrial farms don’t want people to know the disgusting truth about what they’re eating.

“Here are some of the things Industrial farms are doing that they don’t want people to know about and some of the ways they keep them secret. Images on packages from Industrial farms show farmers milking cows and farmers tending their garden when the real picture is thousands of cows clustered together standing knee-deep in their own poop.

“Fruits and vegetables are out-of season when picked and ripened when soaked in chemicals. Poop from Industrial farm cattle and hogs get washed away into the river.

“The FDA and EPA are also run by former leaders of huge Industrial farms. The Industrial farms could send huge chunks of E-coli infested beef to every fast food restaurant in America that would be eaten by millions of people and the government wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.

“The Industrial farms bring workers up from Mexico that are in desperate need of a job, then the Mexicans get arrested for being accused of undocumented working when it’s the company that brought them here. Unfortunately, the government does not have enough resources to sue the companies.

“Unfortunately, some people have died from E-coli like in the movie this person’s son died from eating infested hamburgers the day after vacation. She said this: ‘If we would have known what was in store for us, we would have never gone home. … All I wanted them to say was I’m sorry about your son. We’ll make sure it never happens again. And they didn’t give it to us.’

“Here are some of the ways you can drag power away from these companies:

• Buy organic
• Have your school buy organic school lunches
• Buy milk not treated with antibiotics/ growth hormones
• Buy burgers from 100% grass-fed cows
• Go vegetarian
• Join a CSA”

There’s nothing like a young, fresh pair of eyes and ears to distill a complicated issue down to its most basic elements. This weekend, consider bypassing the blockbuster Disney fare at the cineplex and take your kids to see Food, Inc. But if you do, here’s a friendly warning: those young eyes and ears will make it quite difficult to get away with paying only lip service to supporting a sustainable, family farm based food system.