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Food Inc.

Inspired largely by the work of writers Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) and Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma) sets itself a nigh-impossible task: to address the problems with the way we produce the food we eat in the 21st century. If you don’t know that the situation is bad and getting worse, then you need to see this film, which in 90 minutes tries to address concerns about factory farming, genetic engineering, environmental impact, foodborne illness, pesticides, cloning, farm worker protection, and the difficulty of healthy eating on a limited budget.

Of course, you probably are familiar with at least some of these issues, and documentaries like Food Inc. always have the problem of preaching to the converted. It’s not that the information presented isn’t properly researched and intelligently presented: It’s that the people who need to know what’s here won’t go to see it, either because they’re standing in line for Transformers or because they can’t bear having any more information about a problem they feel they can’t do anything about.

I’m in that last group, and I admit that I was not looking forward to watching Food Inc. It already seems impossible to make eating decisions: Why do I want to torment myself even more? But I watched the documentary, and I’m glad I did. Information is always powerful, and filmmaker Robert Kenner is more concerned with laying out facts than with trying to scare us or scoring ideological points. Aside from the primary issues, it’s a valuable documentary about the abuses of corporate power, and the most frightening things in it are not so much how we coerced into eating unhealthy food as how our government has gutted its own regulatory agencies and let the food producers regulate themselves. Viewing Food Inc. may make grocery shopping more difficult for you, but it inspires you to rise to the challenge.

m. faust

Watch the trailer for Food Inc.

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