Tonight, my sister-in-laws and I went to see Food, Inc. We were quite the trio: three animal-lovers; me an environmentalist small-farmer’s daughter, Kate an organic/vegan chef, and Melissa a fisherman’s wife who runs a booth at farmer’s markets. While we did feel like we already knew a lot about what was in the film and that we, along with our families, have already taken many steps in the right direction, we still found the film to be worthwile.
I could go on and on about how some of my favorite environmentalists are in it, including Michael Pollan and Joel Salatin. I could also talk for a while about how I’m disgusted by the industrial meat industry, frustrated with Monsanto’s monopoly, or my increasing mistrust of food produced by people outside of my family. But instead, I’m going to talk about what I’m taking away from this film.
I had never realized that so many officials in government agencies, including the FDA, EPA, justices, representatives, etc., have ties to industrial agribusiness. No wonder consumers don’t have the protections they want and deserve. No wonder people get sick from E. coli, can’t afford to buy healthy food instead of fast food, don’t have the right to know if food is GM or cloned, and no wonder our nation is becoming increasingly unhealthy. The government has made it so.
However, I walk away from this film with hope. The reality, and the beauty, of our country is that individual citizens can and do make changes, make an impact, at every meal. As Gary Hirschberg, CEO of Stonyfield Farm, says in the film, consumers may think they can’t make a change, but we vote with our dollars every time we purchase food.
However, I don’t think that’s enough. We need to not only vote with our dollars for our own food, but we also need to become politically active. That’s right! No longer can we complacently fill our reusable bags with healthy foods and ignore the policies that allow and promote industrial agribusiness, cruelty to animals, contaminated food, poor conditions for workers, and take away our right to free speech, to the detriment of the health of our citizens, small farmers, and the environment.
So here’s what I will do. I will do my research before I vote, especially when it comes to the small, local elections. I won’t lie: I hate politics! But if I want to see positive changes, I need to get involved. I will speak to and write letters and emails to my representatives in favor of promoting small family farms and in opposition to industrial agribusiness; in favor of healthy food and in opposition to highly processed, packaged fast food. And I will encourage others to do the same. I won’t become discouraged and ask how little old me can make a difference. As Margaret Mead said:
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Have you seen Food, Inc.? What message did you walk away with?