I feel like people should see this movie, but I also feel like when one recommends things that are documentaries, especially expose kinds, one needs to do so cautiously and with good reason.
So I cautiously recommend seeing Food Inc. Here is why I say cautiously:
One sidedness. What's new? This is a problem with so many documentaries. You especially cannot escape this when dealing with an industry that keeps its metaphorical (and literal) doors closed and tightly locked. The words "[Insert company name here] declined to be interviewed for this film" come up about 15 trillion times. But regardless, the responses of the companies to the "facts" (and like every always, they need to be checked) brought up in the film is vital to getting the full picture. I would have LOVED to have heard what representatives of those companies had to say. But I also feel that the companies made the decision to not present their side of the story because it was a smart decision for their PR. A lot of their alleged behavior would be extremely hard to defend, and considering the interests of the documentary makers may have been chopped up unfavorably anyways. Sometimes it is a better move to say nothing at all. However their responses would have really rounded out this film and made it feel less like an agenda and more like an honest scrutinizing of the food industry.
Proselytizing. The ending text segment left a slightly acrid taste in my mouth. I have just paid my $10 to see the film, it has my monetary vote. The majority of the film was the presentation of facts, which I enjoyed. I expected to be left with perhaps one final parting commentary that tied together all the segments of the film in a way that would hopefully encourage some thought and discussion. Instead I was presented with a black screen with some nice typography literally telling me how I should proceed with buying and preparing my food, and as one of the major points of the film was that the consumer votes with their dollar, it ended basically telling me how I should vote
. No, I do not like that. I like being treated like someone who can make their own damn decisions. The film, up until that part, was great. But that "so now that you've seen all this terrible shit, you better do this!" at the end made all of the convincing facts and images, which stood alone very well, seem like the arguments for someone's moral horn-blowing. Of course you can't expect a documentary to be free of the interests of its creators - they wouldn't have made the documentary if they didn't feel strongly about the issue one way or another. But I didn't appreciate being told so bluntly how I should proceed with my life after seeing that film, as if the absolute moral authority rested with these filmmakers.
Facts. As always, the viewer needs to also do their own research. I was too busy watching real pigs die in the thousands right before my eyes to really look for asterisks or small text or sources. I can't say where these people got their information. The first hand accounts from the farmers stuck with me the most because of this. It's hard to search the internet and find an unbiased source. The best way to find the true facts is to look at government records themselves, but wading through those is like a headache in a can and who wants to spend their free time doing that?
But I believe Food Inc should be seen, and should be discussed.
For one, it makes you think. I believe thinking is very important. Regardless of whether you believe the facts, regardless of if you gave a shit at all about the message, just seeing a movie that makes you think - or better yet, talk to others - about the interplay of government and industry and how it affects our daily lives on the most fundamental level is important and not exactly something we as a nation do a whole lot. It needs to be done more. Dialogue needs to happen, I think, and if nothing else this did create a lot of dialogue. People stood around talking with perfect strangers after the film let out. That, to me, was as important or maybe more important than the film itself. Do we talk to others, even people we don't know, evaluate what we saw and contrast it with the opinions of others, or do we just follow what is fed to us regardless of the source?
I felt like the movie was as much about the workings of our government, who is involved in making public policy, where they came from and what the consequences of those people's actions are, as it was about health and safety and food. There were some really amazing, I guess appalling, things about our legal system that were highlighted in the film. I didn't find that hard to believe, really. My family has a good long history of lawsuits, I've seen the different reasons people and companies pull out the attorneys.
None of the images were disgusting, I thought. I was told by people "oh don't eat before you see it." I enjoyed a lovely meal beforehand and I kept it. Some images were distressing
. Particularly seeing cows standing knee deep
in pools of their own feces, and the "kill floor" scene where we see the pigs die (gassed? crushed? I couldn't tell what happened exactly despite the scene not being chopped up), or the little peeping chicks on the conveyor belt being handled like inanimate objects, but they weren't barf-worthy. Ironically a lot of people in my theater stared silently and blankly while the bodies of chickens, cows, and pigs went by on conveyor belts in grimy, cramped factories, yet cringed at the sight of organic farmers washing the bodies by hand in a clean, open-air environment. It wasn't even the slitting their throats part. Honestly.
I was glad to see the emotional appeal wasn't played up too much. I have a problem with this in a lot of documentary type films, especially Moore ones. The story of the little boy who died from E Coli poisoning was heart wrenching, but I felt it was in service of a more important point and not just meant to tear jerk us around. It was the driving reason for this woman's struggle to change the system, to give context to why she's lobbying. The thing that did really make me feel rather indignant was the dilemma of the illegal workers in the slaughter houses and production plants, but I won't go into that because this journal entry is long enough as it is and it's better to see rather than read about it. tl;dr
Overall it was a good film and I am glad I saw it, for my own introspection if not for its message. I encourage you to go see it and form your own thoughts and opinions on it.