Food Inc

Last night I went to a press screening of Food Inc, Robert Kenner’s film about the corporate takeover of the American (and global) agricultural and food industries. For anyone who has read Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma,  or Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation, many of the issues, and even the characters, will be familiar – Pollan and Schlosser both appear in the film – but that doesn’t make it any less chilling. Most shocking was its account of the bullying tactics used by big agro-food corporations to silence their critics, and of the cosy relationship they have with those in power.

There was a Q&A with the director and Patrick Holden of the UK Soil Association after the screening. One of the topics that came up was the particular US focus of the film. Robert Kenner said they’d decided to concentrate on the US, but could have gone anywhere, including to mass meat-processing centres in Romania. And he also mentioned that China was heading in the same direction as the US.

Does anyone out there know much about factory farming in China? Many of my Chinese friends are very worried about speed-rearing, and about hormones in meat, and prefer to buy what we would call free-range and organic foods where possible, but it is hard to find trustworthy sources unless you know the farmers yourself. Certainly I’ve met farmers who don’t eat their own pesticide-laced vegetables themselves, but keep a separate patch for produce grown for the family table.

6 Responses to “Food Inc”

  1. Susannah

    I don’t know anything about factory farming in China, but based on the documentary (which was excellent, btw), if this is what factory farming in the US looks like, then I think it’s just the tip of the iceberg for Chinese farming practices.

    PS. Gong xi fa tsai! We linked to you in our slideshow this month. :)

  2. Michelle Yu

    Just bought your Land of Plenty book and it’s all kinds of wonderful.

    I just came across this muckracking article documenting a large range of chemical additive issues having to do with food, a lot of which are truly shocking. The most relevant would seem to be the addition of clenbuterol (so-called “lean pork powder”) to pig feed to make them produce leaner meat. Clenbuterol causes food poisoning and has poisoned 300 people in Shanghai in a widely-publicized case.

    The article is called WHAT KIND OF HEAVEN? A LOOK AT THE SAFETY OF CHINA’S FOOD, by Zhou Qing, and is available at: http://www.aktavara.org/upl/files/7813.pdf
    It’s more about food safety and production, and not farming itself, but I thought you might find it illuminating.

    Keep up the great work!

  3. Fuchsia

    Thanks Michelle! I’ll certainly check out the article you mention (although I’m not sure I really WANT to know any more about this!)

  4. James

    The thing that amazes me is that Texas (if I remember correctly) has laws on the books against criticizing the ranching industry!

  5. quadruple boiled soups

    It’s unlikely that Texas or any American state has such laws on its books given that it’s pretty clearly unconstitutional under the First Amendment.

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