June 22, 2009
This film is a relentless look at how individual decisions are necessary for change. It shows where consumerism has brought us: from family farms to CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations). There are only 13 meat processing plants in the nation and the top 4 meat packaging companies control 80% of the market. The biggest consumers of meat products, potatoes and tomatoes are fast food joints that want cheap food, no matter the social or environmental costs. The message of the movie was that each person has the opportunity to break down this system of multi-billlion dollar companies deliberately drawing a curtain between the eater and what is in food and how it is produced. Each person has an opportunity three times a day.
Gary Hirshberg, CE-Yo of Stonyfield Farms talked about buying power as his truck pulled into WalMart’s parking lot. If consumers want products that are sustainable, environmentally responsible, and naturally made, the interest of big companies will change. Hell, consumers persuaded the biggest company in the world to sell organic yogurt and rBGH free dairy products. Hirshberg says, “shopping at Wal Mart can help save the world.”
Take some power from the Cargills and the Tysons. Demand to know what is in your food and see how it is made by buying products from companies that are dedicated to transparency. Buy locally grown food. Ask your supermarket to buy locally grown foods and label them. Buy whole foods-ones that don’t have to circle through a processing plant. Plant a garden. Talk to your congressman.
It is as Michael Pollan says, individual choices cannot do it all and neither can policy changes-they must be in executed together. We need to work to reintroduce Kevin’s Law, which gives the USDA the power to shut down processing plants that continue to produce contaminated foods. We must demand stricter regulations for these precessing plants for employee safety and well being and for animal well being and space. We must speak out against Monsanto and other food lobbyists dominating the boards that are charged with surveying them. We must say no to corn subsidies, CAFOs, and a cheap food policy.
Most of all, take responsibility for what you eat. It is your choice and that decision can feed huge corporations like Tyson or support smart, independent farmers like Joel Salatin. The more farmers we support the more farmers we will have. We must move towards real farms again, where the decisions are made by the person who can see the effects and not by a city dwelling CEO trying to slaughter 30,000 hogs a day. We need farms where ecological glitches in production have ecological solutions. Farms where food is healthier and safer because the animals and land are healthier and safer. Farms that aren’t enclosed in a dark, tube-ventilated warehouses with conveyor belts.
No Farms No Food.
Hold on tight, this film has a lot of information, but it is all important. Check out the book published in conjunction with the movie. It has essays from Eric Schlosser, Michael Pollan, Joel Salatin, Gary Hirshberg and others.