"Food Inc." and Swell Curry

One of the stars of "Food Inc."

Today, I took a break from studying to see "Food Inc," a documentary that purports to expose the dark side of the American industrial food complex, and does a decently good job of doing so (particularly when it comes to the plight of illegal immigrant laborers). However, though I thought it admirable that the movie explores the problem from a range of socio-economic positions and tries not to be too judgmental of the people inside and out the system, there were some points when my jaw-dropped at the totally glaring omission.

Here: I can sum up the problem very simply. Our first introduction to the narrator features him (Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation) sitting at a diner counter, thoughtfully perusing the menu before finally landing on a cheeseburger and french fries. Let me just pause to have you think about that for a moment.

This is the guy who exposed the fast food industry. The guy who is going to spend the next two hours touring the nation's biggest producers of meat to expose the disgusting conditions, health risks, and human rights abuses caused by our food system skewed towards mass meat production. A guy who is going to quote The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. And he opens the movie chomping down on a burger? WHY?

This was my issue with the movie in a nutshell. They overview the major issues with the food system, and examine a few possible solutions and potential areas of improvement. But never, once, does anyone mention the word "vegan", "vegetarian", or "plant-based diet". (The word "herbivore" is thrown in there- in reference to an animal.) And believe me, after watching this movie, your decision to go vegetarian is going to be the #1 thing on your mind. The lack of ANY reference to vegetarianism as a viable solution or even step in the right direction isn't just an oversight, its outrageously bizarre given the context and, I think, offensive.

As a matter of fact, I struck up a conversation with a guy leaving the movie theater, who immediately brought up the fact that his first reaction with the movie was revulsion at the treatment of animals throughout the film. "I'm an athletic guy, and I always thought I needed protein... but you look at those animals, and how sick they are, and loaded up with crazy chemicals and think: I need THIS to stay healthy? There's got to be a better way." Couldn't agree more, movie-guy. Just wish "Food Inc" would have thought to mention that.

Did anyone else see the film and think differently? I would encourage others to see it, just take it with a grain of salt since it clearly equivocates on animal rights.


At any rate, the movie did make me thrilled to be vegan. And I was even more thrilled when I got home and, in no time at all, threw together this scrumptious little curry from the fabulous Swell Vegan's line-up of delicious recipes. I made her "Lower-Fat Rama Spinach Curry," subbing green beans for spinach and seitan for tofu. But it was perfectly lovely, and made a sweet background to me ranting at my parents about the industrial food complex for a few minutes.

You make people dinner and they'll forgive a lot of things. :)

Song of the Day: Fugazi- Merchandise


Bianca said...

Thanks for the review! The film hasn't opened in Memphis yet, but my animal rights group is planning to go together. I'll warn them b/c everyone's all excited about it. I had this same problem with Al Gore's movie.

Also, I saw Eric Schlosser (spell?) speak at a college here in Memphis a few years back and he openly admitted to still eating and enjoying fast food. That was a little disappointing.

T said...

Well I think there's still a lot to like about the movie, Bianca, and I'm sure your animal rights group will like some of the main points, and it certainly adds fuel to the argument that meat is extremely unhealthy.

But there is graphic animal violence to the extent that I was really upset, even during some of the more upbeat parts.

Its really a mixed bag, but I can't wait to hear what you think about it!

Anonymous said...

"The lack of ANY reference to vegetarianism as a viable solution or even step in the right direction isn't just an oversight, its outrageously bizarre given the context and, I think, offensive."

You say it so well...

This is probably one of the reasons why I am really hesitant to go see the film. I feel like I'll probably be foaming at the mouth by the time I leave whoops.

jessy said...

i think food inc. is coming here soon, and i can't wait to see it. i have a feeling i'm gonna have the same take on it. how annoying and kinda offensive that they don't mention veganism in there! isn't it nutty that no one wants to ever speak up about how many of the world's problems could be lessened or even dissolved if more people went vegan. it drives me insane. i see sooo many articles on "how to be green" - they mention reducing & reusing, recycling, no plastic water bottles, unplugging things, etc. - but no one ever talks about veganism! argh!

a good curry can pick ya up, fo 'sho - and subbing in green beanz sounds so super tasty! nice call!

Lisa (Show Me Vegan) said...

interesting points about the movie! I haven't seen it yet, perhaps on DVD.

Anonymous said...

Green beans - yum! Glad you made the curry... Thanks for sharing your point about Food, Inc not making any reference to vegetarianism. It seems odd from a vegan standpoint, but I suppose it also makes it seem like less of a veg*an propaganda film then? Which might be better for the omnivores out there who might otherwise dismiss it. I can't decide if I want to see it or not, because I don't like seeing sad images.