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Sunday August 26 at 10 pm ET/PT on CBC News Network
How much do we know about the food we buy at our local supermarkets and serve to our families? Though our food appears the same - a tomato still looks like a tomato - it has been radically transformed.
In the Oscar-nominated Food, Inc., producer-director Robert Kenner and investigative authors Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) and Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma) lift the veil on the U.S. food industry - an industry that has often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihoods of American farmers, the safety of workers and our own environment.
With the use of animation and compelling graphics, the filmmakers expose the highly mechanized, Orwellian underbelly that's been deliberately hidden from the American consumer.
They reveal how a handful of corporations control our nation's food supply. Though the companies try to maintain the myth that our food still comes from farms with red barns and white picket fences, our food is actually raised on massive "factory farms" and processed mega industrial plants. The animals grow fatter faster and are designed to fit the machines that slaughter them. Tomatoes are bred to be shipped without bruising and to stay edible for months. The system is highly productive, and Americans are spending less on food than ever before. But at what cost?
Cattle are given feed that their bodies are not biologically designed to digest, resulting in new strains of E. coli bacteria, which sickens roughly 73,000 Americans annually. And because of the high proliferation of processed foods derived from corn, Americans are facing epidemic levels of diabetes among adults and alarming increases in obesity, especially among children.
And, surprisingly, all of it is happening right under the noses of government regulatory agencies, the USDA and the FDA. The film exposes a "revolving door" of executives from giant food corporations in and out of Washington D.C. that has resulted in a lack of oversight and illuminates how this dysfunctional political system often operates at the expense of the American consumer. In the nation's heartland, farmers have been silenced - afraid to talk about what's happening to the nation's food supply for fear of retaliation and lawsuits from giant corporations.
Laws today are such that corporations are allowed to patent seeds for crops. As a result, Monsanto, the former chemical company that manufactured Agent Orange and DDT - in a span of 10 years - has landed its patented gene in 90% of the nation's soybean seeds. Farmers are now forbidden to save and reuse these seeds and must instead buy new seed from Monsanto each season. Armed with a team of employees dedicated to enforcing their seed patents, Monsanto spends millions every year to investigate, intimidate and sue farmers -- whom are financially unable to fight the corporation.
Food, Inc. also introduces us to courageous people who refuse to helplessly stand by and do nothing. Some, like Stonyfield Farm's Gary Hirshberg and Polyface Farm's Joel Salatin, are finding ways to work inside and outside the system to improve the quality of our food. Others are brave men and women who have chosen to speak out, such as chicken farmer Carole Morison, seed cleaner Moe Parr and food safety advocate Barbara Kowalcyk. Their stories, both heartbreaking and heroic, serve to demonstrate the level of humanity and commitment it takes to fight the corporations that control the food industry.
It's important to note that the filmmakers attempted to interview representatives from Monsanto, Tyson, Perdue and Smithfield, but they all declined.
Food, Inc. reveals how complicated and compromised the once simple process of growing crops and raising livestock to feed ourselves and our families has become. But, it also reminds us that despite what appears to be at times a hopeless situation, each of us still has the ability to vote on this issue every day - at breakfast, lunch and dinner.