Monday, April 12, 2010

Food for thought

We just watched a Food, Inc, a documentary on the food industry in the US. It was shocking. The US government subsidizes soy and corn production and so those industries have created a demand for these products. Now there's either corn or soy in almost everything. Of course there are only a few companies that produce most of the packaged foods available so it's relatively easy for them to incorporate corn or soy products into aaaallll their foods.

The show also talked about Monsanto, that produced genetically modified crops, among other things. These are great for the third world, where food doesn't grow well all the time, but the documentary also showed the company going after farmers that might possibly have some of their seeds when they weren't supposed to. The people they showed that Monsanto sued had to give up their defense and settle because they didn't have the money. Monsanto bullied them into giving up. Maybe they don't always do this... but I think that these people are representative of the people the company goes after.

Another thing they show talked about was the complete lack of power the FDA has. There's no labeling and the FDA doesn't really have enough investigative or punitive power. The American consumer has virtually no protection from the industries worst offenders.

Now, we need industrialized food production in North America because there are so many people and they all need to be fed. But why does healthy, wholesome food cost more than "bad" food like chips and candy and fast food? How is this right?

I don't even know what could be done... except buy locally and organically when possible. Going to the farmer's market is a great idea, too, except that our farmer's market has vendors other than farmers. Fresh Ontario pineapple, anyone? If I could find a farmers-only farmer's market, I'd go there.

The documentary is available at the link above. There's so much more to it than what I've said here, and it's definitely worth seeing.


Kimberly said...

To purchase soy beans by Monsanto to plant, a farmer must first sign a contract in triplicate preventing them from keeping any seed for replanting. Makes you think.

Chantelle said...

And farms who aren't using the Monsanto soy beans can't not get some cross-pollination (nature's methods still work, after all) get in trouble for having Monsanto's product.

I'm reading an article about the largest hog-slaughtering plant in the US - Smithfield (also mentioned in the documentary) - and their pig shit pools. It's horrifying.

Tibcat said...

I watched the first half hour of Food, Inc. and I was so disgusted I couldn't continue watching.

National Geographic this month had a map that shows water usage of various crops. And beef was the highest at 1857 gallons per pound(!) of beef. Absolutely unreal ;(

Chantelle said...

Yes, Food, Inc shows a disgusting world. Later on, it does show some organic farms.

I knew that industrialized farming had some bad points but I didn't know how bad it was. Cattle raising is very bad. That they use so much water is wrong... and they feed them corn which they can't digest.

I'm reading up on industrialized pig farms and it's awful. From what I understand, pigs are pretty smart - as smart as dogs - and they're kept in conditions as bad or worse than puppy mills. Plus they have to add a lot of crap to the pig's diet because the close conditions mean that disease spreads really quickly.

I hope that conditions aren't that bad in Canada. At least the litigation part isn't as bad - the winner isn't the one with the most money, necessarily.