Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Review of Food Inc.

Today as a family we watched the documentary Food, Inc. In part because we wanted to have a visual representation for Willem to see of where our food comes from and also because its a topic that my husband and I are interested in. If you ask him, my husband would likely say that he doesn't have time to make the changes in our habits, being a PhD student and father to two young ones. Lucky for him, he has me who uses quiet time to learn about ways we can be more respectful of the world in which we live.

Pleasantly, I found that Food, Inc. is available to watch instantly on Netflix so we were able to add it to our list last night and watch it today.

If you don't know what Food, Inc is about yet, here is the official trailer to view:

The documentary followed some of the main themes of Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma rather closely: the overabundance of corn in our industry and its applied uses, and the feedlot method of meat, egg and dairy production while emphasizing food safety and health concerns for the general American population. Joel Salatin, a beyond organic farmer in Virginia, is feature prominently here just as in Omnivore's Dilemma. Here he provides commentary on the "So What?" of the food industry's ways as well as demonstrating the alternatives to commercial food production.

Interestingly, Willem was not disturbed by Salatin's open air chicken butchering operation while he was very disturbed at the methods employed in slaughtering hogs. I often wonder if he will choose to be a vegetarian.

The main critique I will offer on this documentary is that it does not address the area of produce production. It mentions briefly how fruits and vegetables are picked before ripeness and then gassed before appearing on supermarket shelves, but fails to revisit or discuss the issue any further. Conspicuously, produce remains on the periphery, without discussing The Dirty Dozen, soil science and organic farming. Also missing is emphasis on buying local.

Yet, the website of the documentary makes up for this with links to:
  • The Eat Well Guide which allows consumers to search by their location for local, sustainable food options. We are lucky living in Seattle to be surrounded by options such as these. Many of which I'm just beginning to discover.
  • A reading list with titles such as The Omnivore's Dilemma, An Eater's Manifesto, Fast Food Nation and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (which is next on my reading list on this topic).
  • Activism opportunities as well as suggestions for "voting with your money." Surprising to me is the filmmakers involvement with the organization MomsRising! in lobbying for healthier food options in public schools through the USFA food programs.

This has been a topic that I've been learning about for awhile and like with attachment parenting practices, I find that it is a process where one doesn't, in a day, become all or nothing into it. This is a topic that I've become much more aware of and really began learning about when I was about to introduce solids foods to Willem. At the time, we could not afford organic produce and honestly for awhile I wasn't convinced on the importance of it.

Over time, I've started paying more attention to food labels and where things are coming from.

Last year I found a bread maker that gives me options without high fructose corn syrup made local to me. I'm still working on bagels but right now I'm content enough with the brand I'm getting that doesn't use high fructose corn syrup like all the other brands available at my local grocery stores.

Tonight, I made my first order for home delivery organic produce . Its a shock to learn that you can get sustainable, mainly locally grown produce delivered to your home for less than you can buy at the grocery store.

Soon, we will be getting involved with a local pick-up for fresh milk from a dairy nearby. Basically, I'm waiting to use the last half gallon of milk in our refrigerator.

An upcoming project for me is to learn about container gardening. I have a goal for the next growing year to grow my own tomatoes and basil for caprese salad, strawberries and rosemary. We haven't been able to do this in the past because each year we've left our home during the growing season. There's a change that will happen again, so possibly this gardening effort will happen at my mom's house instead of at mine.

We have a long way to go on this but little at a time, I'm incorporating changes into my family's consumption. Happily, this is one area that my husband is pleased to go along with, unlike other crunchy behaviors. We'll save that for another post, though.

In large part, this topic is important and becoming increasingly more so as we are beginning to teach our three year old about responsibility to the earth and healthy choices. At each meal, we pray for our food to be blessed and I have often felt awful for wanting to pray to be protected from the hidden dangers in the food we are eating. As in the Native American tradition, I'm teaching Willem to be thankful to the plants and animals we eat and not just to the Creator who put them on earth for our consumption. Its wonderful to be married to a biologist who is teaching our child about life cycles, and the food web, as well as the concept of stewardship, responsibility and gratitude.


Rebekah said...

Way to go Jenne! What dairy are you going to get your milk from? And speaking of which, I've been wanting to do a farm or dairy tour for a while now. Want to go together or maybe with the Green Group?

Jenne said...

Here is the link to the creamery:

There is a pick-up on Thursdays in Phinney Ridge.

I would really like to tour their dairy. Have you been to the Farm on 47th in Redmond? They have times when they have programming directed towards young children. That may be a good thing for us to go to during the days.

There are so many other farms around here too, I would love to tour one or more of them.

I'm so excited and full of ideas for the green group. I've been needing to talk to Beth about it for awhile.