Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Have you watched Food Inc.?

My husband is a flexible-vegan. In the past year he has researched and studied all sorts of food lifestyles to better understand the reasoning behind different diets, especially the vegan diet. I say study but it's more like he has been obsessed about the subject. Whether I was interested or not, he tried to educate me as well. When I told him I spotted Food Inc. at the library and instantly thought of him, he pretty much wanted me to go back and borrow it right away.

Last night we watched Food Inc. I have to say I was a bit scared to watch this. Partly because it was recommended by my husband. This is the same person who sent me numerous links to videos of animal torture and killings. No meat eater wants to see that or even wants to think of that. Thank you.

For a documentary, I thought Food Inc. was well done. Contrary to what I was expecting since this video came from my husband, it doesn't urge you to eat a certain way. It merely educates you about where your food comes from, what is in it, and why things are done the way they are. I guarantee everyone that watches this film will learn something new. I already knew quite a bit going in from my husband's constant ramblings but I still learned a lot.

After the film, I felt a bit powerless and scared for all of us. As a population we are growing too fast and consuming too much of our planet's resource. The pressure to feed more at a low cost has driven our government to allow bad practices to continue. Like they say in the film, whenever something went wrong, instead of looking at the initial practice and asking should we be doing this in the first place, companies only look to technology to find new ways of fixing the problem so that the practice can continue. The goal is to mass produce at a low cost. Anything short of that is not acceptable.

We eat too much! If we eat meat, that is worst because that meat comes from an animal that also has to eat. We are sharing our planet's resources with animals that we will eventually eat. It's not just the meat but all food products in general. The film talked about corn and it's role in the food industry. Corn is heavily subsidized by the government and for this reason a lot of it is grown and then turned into other things to be used in food and products we buy every day. With corn, you can derive high fructose corn syrup, which is basically like sugar but is cheaper and will extend the life of food. Fast food companies use high fructose corn syrup a lot. No surprise there. A host of other ingredients can also be derived from corn and I forget the number mentioned in the film (50-80%?) but a shocking amount of items you can find at the supermarket will have come from corn. Even diapers and Duracell batteries! That is incredible. There may be thousands of brands but only a handful of big companies control all of them.

As you may be aware, most live stock such as cows and chickens are raised in factory farms and some don't even see sunlight their entire lives. Normally cows dine on grass but in the factories, they are taught to eat corn. Corn fattens them up more. The problem is that they are not used to this diet and if I understood correctly, a strand of E. Coli can emerge in their feces. Since they are covered in their manure all the time and are still covered with filth while they are being butchered, E. Coli can spread quite easily. In fact, this bacteria can also be spread to other things we eat such as spinach. Basically, it's not safe to eat anything! One of the Food Safety Advocates in the film shared her tragic story of how her perfectly healthy little boy ate three hamburgers and then died 12 days later from E. Coli poisoning. She wasn't able to trace the E. Coli source until 6 or 7 years after her son's death. Now meat is processed with an addition of ammonia treatment to kill bacteria like E. Coli. Yes, this is what it has come to. It's also interesting to note that if cows were put back on a grass diet for 5 days, they would shed most of the E. Coli in their system. Now why would we do that when ammonia is probably easier and cheaper?

I liked how the film talked about free range and organic farming to contrast the factory farms. If you are going to eat meat, buy free range or organic meat. Cows at these farms are let out to eat grass every day. This way, the farmers never need to cut the grass and any droppings from the cows will naturally act as fertilizer for the land. All the animals roam freely and farmers actually enjoy what they do.

I'm a bit surprised Food Inc. was made. There is so much secrecy in the food industry that I thought the government or a big company would have put a stop to the film. I'm glad they didn't and if you are at all curious about where your food comes from, you should definitely watch this film.

I think the world is already changing. With every E. Coli outbreak, the world learns a bit more and more people make healthier food choices. Walmart is even carrying organics and the organic aisle at Superstore is expanding all the time. We buy our vegan Daiya cheese at Superstore all the time now. Veganism and healthy diets are on the trend. Even McDonald's offers some healthy food. We are still very far from saving our planet but change can start in each and every one of us. If everyone would just eat less meat and support local free range farmers when they do eat meat, then everything else will automatically improve. It's not easy though, right? It's much more expensive to eat healthier and to buy locally. We are trying to do more and more of this but we find ourselves guilty some times too for grabbing the product that is the better bargain:( It's important though and I hope one day we will get there. Our planet can still be saved.

3 comments:

  1. I get recently returned to my life as a vegetarian, I loved food inc I watched it a while back now. I have also noticed a really LARGE increase in the availability of organic, vegetarian, and vegan foods in regular markets too. Good to know that our demands and lifestyle changes have actually began to create a world change.

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  2. i have also thought hard about veganism and vegetarianism. in the end i feel that we are part of the food chain on earth, it is natural for creatures to kill and eat other creatures. but do we have to be such aSSholes about it? animals can feel pain, distress, anxiety, bloated or have their knees buckle b/c we've fed them so fat. the animal is going to give its life so people can feed their tummies, lets try to at least make their short life stress free.

    the SPCA has a farm certification program where you can buy meat and animal products from farmers who follow humane practices, like not keeping chickens in 24 hours daylight! i have bought many products and met many cool farmers.

    price is a huge contentious issue for many. why pay 6.99/lb when superstore sells it for 3.99/lb? if you are stretched thin then perhaps the choice is clear. i'm typing on a fancy apple computer, watching a large LCD tv and have a trip planned for vacation in the summer. i think i can afford to reduce suffering.

    not everyone can, but we can control what we eat - ie more varied diets, more veggies, and alternative proteins. this is why i love vegan and vegetarian cooking and blogs. its fun to challenge yourself and think outside the meat/dairy/egg/butter box.

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    Replies
    1. It's also a matter of education. The more people know, the more people will want to change. Even if that means having one vegetarian day a week. We have a lot of people on this planet. Imagine if just 25% of us did that. That's nearly 2 billion people. Surely that will start to make a big difference. They need to seriously play Food Inc. at schools! In place of the scary tobacco/smoking videos :)

      By the way, thanks for the tip about the SPCA ;)

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