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.