Opinion: “Food, Inc.” points out flaws in food industry and production



Laura Lofgren

Laura Lofgren

Laura Lofgren is the features/A.L.L. editor. Contact her at [email protected].

Every day, I wonder what the hell is in my food. This fun, new tick of mine stems from my recent viewing of “Food, Inc.” Directed by Robert Kenner, the film lifts the veil of America’s food industry to reveal the dirty, unethical underbelly of the mechanized system.

Delving into several factions of the industry, my stomach turned with each scene. Our government’s regulatory agencies, the United States Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, aren’t doing a very good job of keeping our food hormone-free or genetically unmodified.

I learned that chicken provided by distributors like Tyson Foods, Inc. has been modified over the years to create animals with bigger breasts. Bigger breasts mean more meat in a shorter amount of time. These chickens grow so fast that the rest of their bodies don’t have time to develop, thus causing leg injuries in almost all of them. And it doesn’t help that they’re crammed into poorly ventilated and poorly lit facilities and abused by workers.

Plants are having their genetic codes changed, too. Currently, about 40 percent of the United States’s corn is genetically engineered. Pesticides used to deter insect infestation have been documented to cause cancer, autism and neurological disorders in farm workers and their communities.

Besides the unhealthy side effects of this engineered crap, the legitimate farmers of America are being hit hard in the pocket. Large corporations essentially back farmers into a corner with contracts that demand constant upgrades to their facilities, leaving farmers in infinite debt with the company. During “Food, Inc.,” reports surfaced of farmers being sued because of contract breaches. Most farmers settle out of court due to high court costs.

What happened, America? There used to be a multitude of food competitors in this country, and now, only a handful has an iron-grip on the food industry. These corporations could give two shits about the healthy benefits of the food they produce. Bigger and cheaper seems to be their motto.

We have new strains of E. coli — the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually. Our country is riddled with widespread obesity, especially among children. We’re at an epidemic level of diabetes among adults.

Though the price is cheap for this fast food, at what cost to the human body?

Yes, I realize organic food is more expensive, but when I can, I buy it. The thought of putting some food composed in a lab makes me want to throw up a little in my mouth.

Towards the end of “Food, Inc.,” an eccentric farmer who raises his own chickens, cattle and pigs shows the filmmakers how food should be slaughtered and de-feathered. The farmer said he was criticized and almost thrown in jail for the “unsanitary” way in which he cleaned the animals. He called a local microbiology lab to take samples of the animals and surrounding cleaning tables. They found the standard amount (about 20) of microbial strains in the farmer’s samples. Samples taken from manufacturing facilities have microbial ranges past the 100 mark. I can’t emphasize enough how disgusting that is.

Fresh produce is the way to go, people, but we won’t get it unless we demand it. I know we’re all poor college students and midnight drives to Taco Bell are of the utmost appeal, but if we don’t say something now, we never will. There are plenty of options on and off campus to eat healthy. We just have to make the conscious decision to seek out those choices.