A common saying states “We are what we eat.” Based on this saying, what we eat could actually affect us. The question is: who controls what we eat? In other words, who controls us?
The documentary “Food Inc.” directed by Robert Kenner and released by Magnolia Pictures tells us that the huge multinational corporations are the culprits. They are the ones who control the American food system. But these companies not only control the American food system. They also control that of other countries, because other countries’ food systems are somehow patterned to the American’s. The documentary is an eye-opener about the different realities in our food system. It explained every issue, bit by bit.
Before eating, did anyone of us bother to ask where our food came from? Or do we just think and accept that, of course, it came from a farm? Food Inc., brings us to where our food are most likely processed, not harvested. Instead of bringing us to the farms, the movie brings us to a factory, where “the animals and workers are abused” as the movie presented. Aside from changing the farms to factories, and changing the farmers to factory workers, the giants in the food industry also changed the products that are produced in real farms. Today, as the movie showed, chickens are raised faster, and now they are bigger. Instead of feeding grass to cattle, they feed cattle with corn, which is very economical to the side of the companies. Apparently, corn is the raw material for the production of our food. And corn, according to the movie, is very cheap. The consumption of corn also makes the cattle fatter in a short period of time.
Because of the marriage of science and technology, basic problems in production were addressed. As the movie showed, the factories can now produce a lot of food that are exactly the same in a small land, at the lowest cost. Apparently, there’s nothing wrong with that. But every success has a downside. Variety of diseases evolves, because of the unnatural way of raising livestock. There is now the E. Coli 0157:h7, which is victimizing innocent consumers. The movie showed some news clips about poisoning in America, where children are the usual victims.
Now that we are aware of the dark side of our food system, do we have the power to change or select what we eat? Consumers are like the slaves of the big food companies, when in fact, it should be the opposite. In economics, we learn that producers only produce what the consumers demand. Yes, the consumers want cheaper food. We eat what they offer us, because their products are a lot cheaper than the healthy products. We are not aware of it, but they are actually controlling us.
“We’ve skewed our food system to the bad calories and it’s not an accident. I mean, the reasons that those calories are cheaper is because those are the ones we’re heavily subsidizing, said Michael Pollan, author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and who also appears most of the time in the movie.
If we are to do a cost-benefit analysis between buying cheap unhealthy food and buying expensive healthy food, I think there would be more cost when we buy the cheap, but unhealthy food. There are the negative externalities attached to it. Those costs are only hidden from us.
With the presence of modern science and technology, we should not be worrying about food contamination or whatsoever. But because our politicians and business leaders have also evolved, we should be threatened.
Aristotle during his time said that slavery is beneficial to both master and slave, because they have the same interest. He also said that masters should not abuse their authority. That is very ideal, but that is not the reality. Now, the new masters are the huge multinational companies. They control our food, how it is made, how it is distributed, how the government would regulate its marketing, etc. These masters get all the profit. Now, the new slaves are the consumers. They are forced to purchase unhealthy food, because they have no choice but to buy the cheapest. These consumers may not even be aware that they are being controlled by their food system. What they only get are diseases or viruses slowly killing them.
“We put faith to our government to protect us. And we’re not being protected at a most basic level,” said Barbara Kowalcyk, mother of Kevin, who apparently died after eating a hamburger.
It’s all about politics and business. What could we do to change the system? Could we actually change the system? I commend the people behind the very courageous documentary, “Food Inc.” The cinematography is good. Also, the treatment used in discussing the issues is commendable. We only hope that people would open their eyes for these realities, and that the masters of the food industry would feel guilty (if they still have a heart).