In his 1507 novel “Utopia”, Thomas More imagined a perfect society. In this society, the favored, moral folks lived in a clean, peaceful city and dined on meat. The animals were raised and slaughtered far away from the city by poor outcast people so that the good Utopians didn’t have to ever see the ugly truth about how their food was made.
Well, this is pretty much what is happening now in 21st Century America. But it is no utopia.
We have let a handful of meat-producing corporations and influential Iowa congressmen dictate the food that we eat and the way that food is produced. The experiment in government sponsored, corn-fueled mega-farms has been a disaster for the environment, for our health, and for our collective morality.
“Food, Inc.” is a powerful, intelligent documentary about how big food corporations are changing America for the worse.
It all starts with gigantic fields of government-subsidized corn.
Because of Washington’s decision to subsidize one our most unhealthy crops, foods made with corn and corn syrup are artificially inexpensive. If the government subsidized broccoli and spinach rather than Tostitos and Dr. Pepper, we might be able to stop the obesity and diabetes epidemic in its tracks. But the big meat corporations won’t let that happen.
The heartland produces so much subsidized corn that they’ve begun feeding it to cattle. According to “Food, Inc,” this has been a disaster for the country on every level.
Fifty years ago, cows lived on a farm, grazed on grass in a field, and fertilized the field with their manure. It was sane, humane, and self-sustaining.
Now cows live in gigantic mega-pens dining on corn that has been shipped in by train. They live surrounded by their waste until it can be shipped out and dumped somewhere else – leading to pollution of ground water and rivers.
The meat conglomerates have learned that corn fed cows are more susceptible to E. coli bacteria. But instead of switching back to feeding cows grass, they try to cover up the problem by washing ground beef in ammonia baths.
The meat companies know darn well that their factory farms and slaughterhouses are ghastly. That’s why they make sure to hire workers who are least likely to complain or become whistleblowers: recent immigrants.
Big food doesn’t just knowingly employ illegal aliens, the corporations actively place spanish-language ads in Central American newspapers. Even more disturbingly, “Food, Inc” exposes the deal that Smithfield Foods has with the INS whereby agents come and deport workers every once in a while to maintain the facade of competence. But the feds never go after the real culprit – the company itself.
The food corporations cause obesity and diabetes. They waste fuel and pollute the environment. They selfishly add to the immigration problem. If tobacco were an animal that was exploited and tortured, then maybe – just maybe – it could be argued that the cigarette companies are as bad as the meat corporations. Meanwhile, we tax cigarettes and subsidize meat.
“Food, Inc” is a must-see documentary. It shows how much we are truly paying as a society for our cheap food.
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