In regards to Robert Kenner’s latest, “Food, Inc.,” I am not the average moviegoer. I spend my free time honing my culinary skills and reading through medical texts in addition to my addiction to pop culture. Needless to say, I feel that “Food, Inc.” was tailor made for me and my brethren. “Food, Inc.” deals with the industrialization of food production, the culling of small farms, and how they are trying to cover it up behind red tape. It mixes food, health and culture in one big vat, turns the heat up, and the watches it all boil over.
Its PG rating is a bit misleading. I’m sure it got bumped down some because of its documentary status, and I will never tell someone not to go see an educational film, but you might want to leave the kiddies home for this one. I recall being traumatized by Bambi’s mother dying, and I don’t want to be responsible for not warning parents about the hidden camera footage of so called “Kill Floors.” It’s probably a good rule of thumb to never involve you children in anything with a “Kill Floor.”
Running time: 96 mins
Seen at: Boston Common Loews
But these scenes, as graphic as they are, are needed to fully display what goes into our hamburgers and sausage every day. Without getting into debate over the moral aspects of eating meat, the real story here is about the condition of the meat after it’s off the bone, before it heads to the slaughterhouse. Killing the animals might be the least controversial aspect of this section of the movie.
The other aspect is the industrialization of food, specifically about farms. Many people know that the death of the traditional farm seems to inch closer every year. This movie tells you why. It also focuses on the impact of soy and corn on our society and how our little yellow kernelled friend might just be responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths. Sounds extreme, and it’s meant too.
Now, as you can guess, subtlety is not this movies strong point. It has a very clear agenda: fear. You might learn a few things along the way, but the purpose of this movie is to be “Scared Straight: Fast Food Edition.” Fully knowing all the information in this movie, prior to seeing it, I still can’t help but look at that Burger Joint a little differently. In the end, it’s a good movie. The production is better than a documentary deserves, and the ideas are both informative and controversial. It does everything it wants too: Teaches, frightens and inspires.
However, this movie is going to miss its intended audience. Even large scale documentaries aren’t seen by the single mother, poor families and 20-something college kids that this movie is meant influence. Instead, it will more likely been seen by well-off people who go already buy organic, some granola hippies and probably the starving artists of the world.
Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” caused massive changes because it was read everywhere. It forced the issue of safety and standards in meat production in the early 1900’s and you can draw the obvious parallels between “Food, Inc.” and the classic book pretty easily.
However, “Food, Inc.” will not have the widespread appeal to get anything changed, and it’s message to change our current system might be lost in the the fear they used to sell the message.