Monday, July 20, 2009

FOOD, INC.



Last Friday I took myself on an Artist Date to see the much acclaimed Food, Inc., a documentary that basically informs us of what the heck we are eating. I wasn't particularly interested in watching the film for informational purposes (I've read a couple of Michael Pollan books and took a Food Safety class in law school), but to see if the film would/could appeal to the general public. It has occurred to me that an alarming number of bright, well-educated people don't want to know where their food comes from. Many of my friends said they were "too scared" to see Food, Inc. because they "like food too much." Um, HELLO, I like food, too! I LOVE food, actually. And loving food is even more incentive to go see this film.

As I predicted, I already knew 90% of what the film told me. I already know the horrors of the beef, poultry and dairy industries, and I know that 99% of the products in the supermarket are derived from corn. I know about the little boy Kevin who died from E. Coli (although seeing his mother talk about it was tres difficult), and I know that 5 giant multi-national corporations control the U.S. food industry. I also know that the government agencies that are supposed to protect us (USDA, FDA, etc.) are corrupt and that their leaders are paid (whether directly or indirectly) by these food giants to regulate in their favor.
Even though I knew all of this and had seen much more graphic images before (Food, Inc. is NOT graphic btw), the film hit me really, really hard. I kid you not when I say that I spent most of the movie crying, out of sadness and pain, anger and sheer frustration. My reasons for cutting out meat in the past were mostly dietary and also a little because I didn't agree with how our country produces its meat. But I never thought it was fundamentally wrong to kill and eat animals. For some reason, Food, Inc. made me see things differently.

Every time I saw a suffering chicken, cow, or pig, I thought of Lola. Maybe that's silly or overly dramatic, but really, how is it any different? Animals are animals, and just because we've chosen to domesticate some more than others does not mean each animal doesn't experience the same pain. Can you imagine seeing your beloved dog or cat or whatever pet in the kind of pain you see those chickens and pigs and cows in? It would kill you. And it pretty much killed me, and every excuse I had for sneaking a little bacon here or there into my mostly meat-free diet fell by the wayside. How can I eat meat knowing it was raised/treated/slaughtered that way?

After watching Food, Inc., I learned of the documentary Earthlings. Um, wow, if you can't handle animal cruelty, then don't even watch the preview because it has haunted me for days. I can't imagine seeing the entire movie, i just don't think I could sit through it, but wow, what an impact it must have on those who do see it. It actually made me want to go vegan, and believe me when I say, I've never wanted to go vegan in my entire life.

This post is not intended to be preach-y (and I'm sorry if it has been), and there really is only one message I have here: Go see films like Food, Inc. You have a right to know where your food comes from. And really, you should want to know. Ignorance is not bliss. As for moi, I'm not sure where I go from here. Cutting meat? Easy peasy. It's GONE. But what about my whole seafood thing? And what about veganism? Can I, in good conscience, be a vegetarian but still eat the by-products of the meat industry? I mean, I love me some goat cheese, I really do. What about leather? Can I give up my beloved Chloe bag, my many many shoes?? Augh, I don't know. I just don't know.

18 comments:

Rachel said...

I am so glad to hear your review! I'm also happy to hear that it isn't COMPLETELY graphic. I am going to go see this very soon. The thing I'm afraid of is that I know I will want to go vegan after seeing it. And I do not have the income to support that at this time. LOL. But I know I will have a reaction much like yours.

Naturally Jules said...

Great post Carolyn! I believe I'm in the same boat as you re: vegetarian/vegan...we shall see.

Lauren said...

I'm pretty much exactly where you are as well regarding the vegetarian/vegan stuff. At home I cook entirely vegetarian and mostly vegan. Lately I've been mulling around going totally vegan,especially after seeing this documentary. Thanks for posting this! I needed to give it some more thought and this jogged that process.

Kirsten said...

We've discussed this at length. Great post/review. I do not recommend Earthlings - I think it's powerful, graphic and necessary but it took me WEEKS to watch the whole thing and it still haunts me.

I would love to go vegan again and I'm really leaning towards that choice. Many vegans would tell you it's unnecessary to give up the leather you already own - just not to buy any new. When I was vegan I kept my shopping addiction by only buying leather and wool products second hand - eBay, thrift stores, etc. I got great gently used designer pieces that I could actually (sort of) afford!

fresh365 said...

Great post! I understand your confusion on which way of life is best for you. I struggled with the whole vegetarian/vegan thing for over a year until I found a comfortable spot (vegetarian). It's tough to figure out which works best in your own life, but give it time and keep your options open.

Kirsten said...

Oh a lot of vegans hated that I would buy/wear leather and wool/silk - even if I bought it secondhand. Just to warn you.

I believe that everybody's lifestyle choice is individual. I don't judge my meat eating friends - I may disagree with them - but it's not my job to be the morality police.

Christine Claire Reed said...

There are ways to be ethical and unethical regardless of food choices.

I eat all sorts of food but it's all organic, local, humanely raised, etc.

I find it interesting that so many vegans, for instance, have no qualms about driving, and if there is any ONE thing killing this planet, it is the proliferation of automobiles.

Road kill, anyone?

How about some destroyed habitats?

Oh, right, and war for oil -- which means not only dead animals but dead humans.

See...it's all connected. Good and bad choices are made no matter what we label ourselves.

Carolyn said...

Well said, Christine. I totally agree.

Suz said...

I don't want to (because I love chicken and the occasional steak) but I probably should see this movie. Could be good for my waistline though!

BTW...I left an award for you on my blog!

City Girl said...

Christine said it so well - I too eat everything, but for meat I will not purchase something if it is not local and humanely raised and organic. I also make a point to frequent restaurants that make local eating and humane meats a part of their offering/philosophy.

Nina (Femme Rationale) said...

i wanted to watch this, film, too! i, too, think of my dog when i think bout eating meat. thx for the movie review...i'm going to have to check it out now for sure.

Yogadiva said...

My husband and I are going to see FOOD, INC this weekend. I am looking forward to seeing it.

Kim in Oz said...

Not sure if this film is being released in Australia, but will definately see it if it does. I know I will cry heaps. have gone vego for months at a time, but struggle with anaemia. I know I can get iron from plant food but frankly I'm too damn lazy to eat properly to get everything I need. I guess it's time to rethink my convictions, particularly since I am getting interested in Buddhism fairly deeply these days, and I struggle with animals being harmed just so I can wack make up on my face and enjoy a nice steak.

Time for a deep think. Thank goodness wine is animal free! LOL.

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Kiki said...

Great review! I really hope this comes out in the UK soon, because people are REALLY conscious here about where their food comes from.

It's said to think that the food industry has not improved from where it was at the beginning of the early 20th century. You might want to check out Upton Sinclair's 1906 book 'The Jungle,' which not only detailed the horrors of the meatpacking industry but also the terrible conditions endured by the factory workers. It doesn't read like it was written in 1906, I promise you that much, and it might be an interesting addition to your arsenal of information on the subject.

Sarah said...

Hey Carolyn! I understand your struggles. I haven't seen the movie, but I know how it feels to hear or read about unethical and inhumane animal treatment. I'm a vegetarian, but not completely vegan. I eat a mixture of vegetarian and vegan meals (I haven't been able to give up cheese, but try to cut back for health reasons). Giving up seafood wasn't too hard for me, b/c I had already given up all other meat so why not. Some meat I just don't like, some I do like the taste but won't eat it at all. I can't imagine killing an animal to eat, when there is plenty available for me to eat that isn't an animal product. While I do consume some dairy, I don't use anything that results in the slaughter of an animal (eating meat, wearing leather or fur, etc.). But that is me.

There will always be meat eaters who say vegetarians/vegans are foolish. And there will be vegetarians/vegans who say carnivores are ignorant. And you will even have vegans who dislike vegetarians. That is where you need to decide what is right for you. Don't worry about what others think, focus on what is right for you.

Globetrotting Cacti said...

Thanks for the review. It is not out at the cimema yet here but have added it to my on-line DVD rental list. I know that I could never be a vegetarian but I don't eat meat out and only buy organic at home (but I do eat fish). I do bellieve that individuals have to do what is right for them & their circumstances....

Pink Heels said...

I attempted to watch the trailor for Earthings but it was just too much. I had to stop. I am speechless and sad at the same time. I just don't understand how we can survive as a society if we are unwilling to respect all living things.