Food Inc: What Exactly Are You Eating?

I wonder if those who farm and those who raise animals can confirm or refute what I saw in Robert Kenner’s documentary, Food Inc? For example, the film reports that chicken farmers often take out large loans so that they can go into business with companies that then begin to make demands on the farmer for upgrades and farm practices.  The farmer must either comply or cease to do business with the company, an act which would surely lead to bankruptcy for the farmer.  This means that farmers lose control of what happens on their own place.  The film reports that today’s chickens are slaughtered in half the time weighing twice as much as compared to animals of the past.  I saw chickens that are raised in total darkness and farmers who wake each morning to go out and clear their buildings of dead birds.  Many of the chickens were so big that they couldn’t support their own weight.

Kenner interviews farmers who feel that they must buy their seeds from one company or else stop farming.  The once standard practice of seed cleaning for the next year has all but ceased.  Because seeds have been genetically engineered and patented, any farmer whose fields have been “contaminated” with the patented seeds risks legal prosecution.

The film claimed many other bits of information that were shocking to me:

  • The USDA doesn’t have the power to shut down plants that have repeat offenses of contaminated meat.
  • U.S. meatpacking companies recruit workers from Mexico and then works with our government to bust small numbers of illegal aliens so as not to disrupt production.
  • 70% of the United States’ hamburger meat contains filler that has been cleansed with ammonia to kill E Coli.
  • The biggest predictor of obesity is income level.  It appears that cheap food is cheap for a reason.

It was my wife’s reading of Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin’s Skinny B _ _ch that has propelled my family’s revision of how we eat.  I know that in Robert Kenner’s documentary I’m hearing one person’s perspective.  I’d love to hear from others about their perspectives on our food supply.  I’m trying to become less ignorant about the food our family consumes, and as a colleague of mine is always telling me, I’m more determined to try and “vote with the way you spend your money.”