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FOOD, INC. (director/writer: Robert Kenner; screenwriters: Elise Pearlstein/Kim Roberts; cinematographer: Richard Pearce; editor: Kim Roberts; music: Mark Adler; cast: Michael Pollan (Himself), Eric Schlosser (Himself); Runtime: 94; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Robert Kenner/Elise Pearlstein; Magnolia Pictures; 2008)
“The message is that it’s up to the consumer to change things in the food industry.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Robert Kenner directs this educational documentary on the giants of the food industry controlling the way farming is done and the food we eat. It provides essential information, but is filmed like one of those dry school films that lack entertainment value. Following the muckraking tradition of Upton Sinclair’s sensationalized 1906 novel “The Jungle,” which exposed corruption, unsanitary conditions and bad labor practices in the U.S. meatpacking business, the film leaves us with the impression things have gotten even worse in America’s corporate controlled food industry.

Investigative journalists Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, and Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, are the film’s expert spokesmen who offer commentary on the horrors witnessed in how our food is engineered and the risks it has to our health (i.e, why so many people are obese, why there’s an epidemic of diabetes and why there are so many food-related E. coli problems).

Kenner makes his case that the USDA and FDA, who are supposed to protect the public, are negligent in their duties as both government regulatory agencies have been in bed with the corporations and have let them put profit ahead of consumer health. The facts are all here, but the question is how do you reach the unconverted who have no clue that the food they eat can be so unsafe. Educating the public to these dangers is a responsibility of the government, but if they are not up to the task, as indicated here, then it’s up to the citizen to find out on their own.

The main villain is agribusiness (such as Tyson, Monsanto, Smithfield), the multicorporation bottom-line gigantic monster that controls what the farmer grows and almost everything you eat.

This is a pretty scary film for those who realize this is the terrible truth, even if it fails to cover new territory. It ends on an optimistic note: by advising people to know what they are buying, to support farmers markets and organic food products. The message is that it’s up to the consumer to change things in the food industry, demand food that is real food and not the modified food the big boys are forcing us to blindly swallow.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”