Food Inc. is a popular documentary from 2009 that I found on Hulu. This documentary takes place in the United States and discusses the truth behind the food industry with the production of meat, grains, and vegetables.
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The documentary talks about the big food corporations that run the food industry. It is crazy to me that in the 70s Tyson, Cargill, Swift, and National Beef processed about a quarter of the market, and today they now process 80% of the meat we consume. When people dine out at restaurants, most people including myself, do not think about where the meat they are eating comes from. This documentary shows the farms and factories that produce the meats we buy in the supermarkets.
They talked about how we have never had companies this powerful and big in the food industry until now. These companies like Tyson, Cargill, Swift, and National Beef who are running the market, have drastically changed the food industry from how it was in past decades. Tyson has changed the way Chickens are raised. The chickens are twice as big and slaughtered at a much faster rate than they were 50 years ago. The farmers that work for Tyson have no control over the chickens they are raising. Tyson has full control over the animals. I also learned that Mcdonalds is the largest purchaser of ground beef, chicken, potatoes, etc., in the United States.
This film is similar to the conversations we have had in class, and that there are more benefits from buying from local farmers. In the film, it was hard to watch the way they treated the animals and how big corporations make farmers raise their chickens in a dark room, with no sunlight whatsoever. It is an inhumane thing to do. Many farmers would not let the film interviewers inside the chicken room because the food company would not allow it. One farmer finally said yes, and let the interviewers inside to film. I could not believe how many chickens there were in such a tiny place. These chickens were huge and are growing 10 times faster than they did 50 years ago, which I remember talking about this in class too. The farmer mentioned that the chickens grow so fast due to being injected with hormones, that a lot of the time their bones and internal organs cannot keep up with the rapid growth.
They have trouble walking because they cannot handle all the weight they are carrying. No animal should be treated and raised in harsh conditions like this. I would rather pay more money at the grocery store for organic chicken because they are grown with no pesticides or antibiotics and the farmers take them outside. This farmer also had open windows, so the chickens could have sunlight and fresh air. She was later cut off by the company because she refused to cover her windows. These farmers are only paid 18,000 a year, which is surprising to me. It makes me mad because these people work hard every day to keep up with their animals, which is not an easy job to raise 300+ chickens. Farmers deserve to be paid more for their hard work, especially because most farmers are in debt. It was heartbreaking watching this farmer talk about how she has no say in her business and how she feels like she is a slave to their company. These big corporations seem like they do not have any respect or appreciation for their farmers. It makes me never want to support these companies ever again.
The average American eats over 200 pounds of meat per year. That is a lot of meat we consume. In the beef industry, they have been feeding the cattle corn because it is cheap and gets them fat quickly. I never knew the cattle are fed other food other than grass. The corn diet is harmful because it can lead to E. Coli and since the cattle stand in their own manure all day if one cattle has E. Coli it will spread to others as well. They also mentioned if cattle still manure on them when getting slaughtered, it will get into the meat, which disgusts me. There have been so many E. Coli breakouts in food in the past years. In 1972, there were 50,000 food safety inspections conducted by the FDA; but in 2006, there were only 9,164 conducted. It makes me mad because these corporations clearly care more about money than they do about people’s health and these people are getting sick from their unsafe actions.
I definitely think this film has caused many people to give up meat, and gain a new perspective on the meat industry. This film has raised red flags for me. I do not want to eat meat if the animals I am eating have been harmed. I cannot get over the way they were treating the farm animals, it was surprising to watch that someone could actually do that. I would love to try going vegetarian or vegan someday but it is hard because whenever I go out to eat, I crave a burger or chicken but that is something I will have to change. I never want to eat meat that came from a big cooperation farm again. So if that means not eating meat when I go to a fast-food restaurant, I will not. If I choose to eat meat, I will buy from an organic brand or at a farmers market, and cook it at home. Although, I do know of one restaurant back in Virginia called Cava that tells people where their farms are. Cava is a Mediterranean place; it is similar to a Chipotle but with Mediterranean food. I remember the location by my house had a sign saying what farm they get their meat from. On their website, they also have all the farms where their food comes from according to the region you live in. I think every restaurant should have where their food comes from on their website.
Since this documentary was filmed 10 years ago, it is necessary to do more research to see if anything has changed since then. In 2015, an article came out talking about what has and what has not changed since Food Inc. The working conditions in food factories have not changed, “it is still highly dangerous to work in these conditions” (What Has Changed Since Food Inc.). The article states that more people have become conscious of the food industry issues after watching Food Inc. but not many people have changed their eating habits, and that is surprising to me.
Carole Morison, who was the farmer that was featured in the film for letting the interviewers film inside her chicken house, wrote an article about how her life has changed since the documentary was aired. Her contract at the time of the documentary was with Perdue Farms, she knew that she was putting her contract at risk by speaking in the documentary but she did not care because she wanted to speak out about the real issues with the industry and how it affects our community. After the documentary aired, Perdue took ended her contract with them. She stated she experienced health side effects due to, “the fumes and particles that built up from these chicken houses, which caused my eyes and nose to burn, gave me headaches and made me cough” (Morison).
Her neighbors experienced the same as well. In the Eastern Shore of Maryland, she believes that there is something in the air that is making children sick because “one in 4 children in Wicomico County has been diagnosed with asthma” (Morison). Many people in the community are putting the blame on chicken production that is owned by big corporations. The industry has denied these allegations. I never realized how ruthless the food industry truly is. I cannot believe that they have not done much to change since this documentary has come out. I admire the farmers that speak out about these issues because that takes a lot of courage.
Overall, this documentary and everything I have learned from class have changed the way I think about my food choices. In class, we talked about how animals are not treated right at these big farms run by corporations. I understood that, but never really realized how bad it truly was until watching live footage from this documentary. After seeing how inhumane it is, it made me want to change my eating habits right away. I admit, sometimes I buy chicken tenders in the frozen section that are produced by Tyson. But after watching this, I would rather support local farmers than support companies that mistreat their animals.
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