Debate Over Food Movie Misses Most Farmers

Food Inc., a documentary film about the modern agricultural industry, is a hit with big-city movie reviewers, small organic farmers and vegetarians. The movie argues that large-scale agriculture produces inexpensive meat and vegetables, but imposes high costs on the environment and Americans' health.

But ordinary farmers — the people who grow the lion's share of what America eats — have largely been left out of the mainstream media debate over the film.

Frank Morris reports for member station KCUR in Kansas City.

'Food, Inc.': Attention Must Be Paid To Food Supply

Joel Salatin i i

Polyface Farms' Joel Salatin is an organic farmer and an agribusiness critic featured in Food, Inc. Magnolia Pictures hide caption

itoggle caption Magnolia Pictures
Joel Salatin

Polyface Farms' Joel Salatin is an organic farmer and an agribusiness critic featured in Food, Inc.

Magnolia Pictures

The new documentary Food Inc. takes aim at corporate giants behind the U.S. food supply. As director Robert Kenner and food advocate and author Michael Pollan tell Steve Inskeep, they made the film in order to raise Americans' awareness about where their food really comes from.

Pollan says he wanted to address "the pastoral illusion we're spinning in the way we market food... You would think it comes from farms and that ranches with big hats are producing the meat."

In fact, say Pollan and Kenner, America's food comes primarily from enormous assembly lines, where animals and workers are being abused.

There are benefits to the current system; as Pollan points out, Americans spend less than nine percent of their income on food — less than any other people in history. But, he adds, the benefits have come "at an exorbitant cost, because the system depends on cheap fossil fuel to work. The system depends antibiotics to work. The system depends on abuse animals to work. And if people want to pay those costs for cheap food, that's great, but let's tell them about the costs first."

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