Food, Inc: An Eye Opening Documentary

I just finished watching “FOOD, Inc.”, which is a movie that has been on my “to-watch” list for some time.  Just in case you haven’t heard about it, this is a documentary about the American food supply.  It shows how our food is produced, where it comes from and how large corporations have changed the industry in the last few decades.  While there is no doubt that there are some positive aspects to advancements in technology and science on our food supply, it is also very clear that there are some major problems that have developed as well.  (To be fair to both sides, I must point out that this movie only points out the negative aspects and shows some of the most extreme conditions).

As a dietitian, I read about food all the time and I would consider myself to be very aware of how mass production, technology and government subsidies have changed the conditions in which animals are raised, what they are fed and what is added to many of the foods we eat every day.  In fact, I have enough knowledge that part of me was hesitant to watch the movie because I really didn’t want to”see” some of the unpleasant footage.  (After all, ignorance is bliss, right?)  However, I’m glad I did watch it because it was thought provoking.

As a result of the movie, am I going to become a vegetarian and eat only organic food?  No.  However, there are some take home points that I think are very important:

  • Support your local farmers when you can. When you buy local produce that is in season, it is picked at the time it is ripe and does not sit on a truck and store shelves very long, so it maintains its vitamins and minerals.  You are also helping support your community by keeping the farmers in business.  You can take action by:
    • Buying fruits and vegetables when they are in season
    • Buying locally grown produce in your store
    • Check out the farmers market in your community this summer
  • Buy organic as your budget allows for it. Organic food does not contain pesticides and is more sustainable.  It is important to note that organic does not necessarily mean that it is healthier or has more nutritional value.  So, do you need to purchase all organic foods to be healthy? No.  I know cost can be prohibitive, but if it fits into your budget, it can help the environment.
  • Plant your own produce. Planting your own fruits and vegetables is a great way to get organic produce for a very minimal cost.
  • You can make a difference and help to change the food industry. The food industry will supply the foods that we demand.  So if we buy sodas and eat fast foods all the time, we are giving those companies more money and more power.  Instead, you can:
    • Eat more unprocessed foods
    • Read food labels and look at the ingredients that are in your foods
    • Limit empty calorie foods and sugary beverages
      • Note:  All of the above recommendations are healthier anyway!
    • If you feel that we need to make some changes to our food supply, let your legislator know. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is an organization that advocates for consumers on health and nutrition issues.  I receive e-mails from this organization and if I believe in the cause, I will use the letters they write to contact my local congressman.

For some additional action steps to improve our food supply, you can check out the Food Inc. Website.  If you do visit their website or watch the movie just remember that they are only showing one side of the story.  You don’t have to eat “all natural” or “organic” to be healthy and all foods can fit into a healthy diet in moderation.  However, it doesn’t hurt to think about the quality of the foods we put into our body.