Food Inc: A blessing in disguise

(Originally Published January 14, 2013)

Sometimes in life, you just want to tell people…

“I respect your opinion. But you know what? Your opinion is horse shit.”

Unfortunately, that’s not acceptable in today’s society (nor should it be acceptable, ever, despite how good that may feel). It’s also a weee bit rude, no matter how high their pile of shit is. Therefore, you’ve got to find a way to disagree in a more professional way that gets people to listen to what you have to say. My latest struggle? Food Inc. What is Food Inc.? If your views on agriculture are anything like me, it’s you sitting down to enjoy a movie when the popcorn bowl ends up smashing the TV screen and your blood is boiling enough to cook enough spaghetti noodles for a third world country.

OK, so here’s the thing. I’m a girl who’s been raised on a farm and grown up while being surrounded by family, friends and fellow members of society dedicated to portraying a positive image of the world of agriculture. We are communicating the difference that we, farmers of all sorts, are trying to make. Where does your food come from? US! And we want to you to see that!! So when my ERM 210 (Environmental Resource Management) Professor starts off our first class with the film Food Inc., here are the words my classmates and I are greeted with:

“Now our food is coming from enormous assembly lines where the animals and the workers are being abused. And the food has become much more dangerous in ways that are being deliberately hidden from us … This isn’t just about what we’re eating. This is about what we’re allowed to say, what we’re allowed to know.”

WAIT. NO. REALLY?! Busted, you’ve caught us red handed. That’s EXACTLY what our goal is! To keep eeeeeverything we do a big fat secret. Behind those closed barn doors we’re kicking our chickens, mocking cows who can’t get up with juicy Big Macs and chasing pigs around with a skid loader and pitch forks.

LOL. Come ON people! We are doing what we do because we LOVE what we do! This movie is absurd and just pure evil media. I get it… some things that are happening in that film make valid points. Preventing E. coli outbreaks and improving food safety are things we should never lose focus on. And, we need to treat our animals with the dedication, respect and care that it takes for them to prosper and provide a valuable food product. It’s sad to say that animals get abused every day.. there are just plain crappy people in this world. But what we’re seeing in this film is the minority in agriculture. The majority are people (like me) who, along with their families, have committed their lives, studies and careers on ridding the industry of those nasty and unwanted farms and filling those vacancies with men and women who want to feed a rapidly expanding population with safe and healthy food products. All while keeping the well being of the animals AND the public in mind.

I’m happy to say that I wasn’t alone in that classroom. There were others who had smoke coming out of their ears by the end of the class. When we heard this movie “accurately captures agriculture today,” that’s when the smoke started coming out of our ears. I asked two of my classmates, Kelley and Mary, what bothered them most about the film. This is how they responded:

The thing that upset me the most is that this video displays only bad cases of the industry such as the “old style” chicken houses. No wonder they are “old” and there are now new and improved ways. And then the comment in the paper we had to fill out that “we aren’t producing chickens, we are producing food.” No kidding…that’s why we have regulations that ensure that the animals are taken care of properly to ensure a quality product.” -Kelley

You tell ’em Kelley.. also, I don’t know how many times we have to say this but I’ll say it again since this was also brought up in the film.. THERE ARE NO ANTIBIOTICS OR HORMONES IN THE (CHICKEN) MEAT YOU ARE CONSUMING.

“But, honestly it wasn’t Food Inc. that surprised me the most. The fact that a professor, who has accomplished a PhD, could be so ignorant and believe everything that is shown on Food Inc. and believe that indeed is American agriculture is what shocks me.And yet what mortifies me is that she teaches hundreds of students a year, that don’t have our backgrounds and understanding, which allows them to walk away from the course believing the same thing that she does, which continues to further the gap between producer and consumer and allows those who have absolutely no understanding of production agriculture leave with a negative and FALSE image in their heads.” -Mary

But Mary, she’s a Doctor

These opinions are real, people. I’m shoving direct quotes at you. But what I’m REALLY trying to do is bring attention to the other side of reality. One classmate that I spoke with told me “I walked out of that classroom not wanting to eat meat ever again. That stuff can’t be all true right?” No sista, it ain’t. She wasn’t the only one who looked disgusted. Judging by the sighs, grunts, comments and facial expressions of my classmates, it looked like they all wanted a farmer’s head on a stick. But can we blame them? This movie makes “our kind” seem like cold, heartless soul-eating demons.

But as always, there’s a silver lining in all of this. Together, we could make something positive out of something as repulsive as Food Inc. It’s our time to battle back. For me personally, this lecture came as a blessing in disguise. Thanks to ERM 210 and Food Inc., there is finally a fire lit under lazy senior bum and it’s time for me to make a difference.. are you with me?

PS check out the links… they’re legit, or what our professor likes to say, “backing up our opinions with science.”

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