Saturday, November 07, 2009

Pass the Broccoli, Please

We watched Food, Inc. on DVD this evening.

The link is to the Amazon entry for the DVD. It's worth going there because the Amazon link has (1) a video interview with the director, Robert Kenner, and (2) a written Q&A section with Kenner, Co-Producer/Food Expert Eric Schlosser, Food Expert Michael Pollan and Producer Elise Pearlstein. This information will present the thesis of the film. But the film is still very much worth watching.

There are many interesting points, but there is one that especially got my attention:

Our government subsidizes the production of corn, so that the "industrial food" complex pays less than market value for the corn it uses. Thus, we as US consumers pay less than we would for products with corn in them.

When NAFTA was enacted, according to the film, cheap, subsidized US corn flooded the Mexican market. Mexican farmers could no longer compete in their home markets and their farms failed. They became illegal immigrants and came to the US looking for jobs. Many now work in US industrial food factories, such as the hog slaughterhouses that Smithfield runs. Smithfield can run those factories and sell cheap products in part because the feed for the hogs is subsidized and they have really cheap labor.

Here we are raving about losing our free market in the health care sector (as if it is really "free," but that's another story), where we have had no really free market in the food sector because of government subsidies.

Other points that got my attention include one that pertains to the E. Coli problem. That problem arises in part, according to the film, because the cows are fed corn and not grass.

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