Food Inc: Round 3

(Originally Published January 27, 2014)

If you’ve been keeping with the Cow Chronicler (and if you haven’t, this is awkward) you’d be expecting my last and final post with regards to the movie Food Inc. Well folks, here it is… and it’s another step in the right direction to making a difference.
Before our last class discussion even began, I walked into a class already debating… well only one person debating with everyone surrounding him. Yea you know that kid who said I let my emotions get the best of me? He was back in full force (also interrupting my stupid-expensive McLanahan’s dinner) telling people “Monsanto is out to get everyone. They don’t care about us. They know exactly the effects their products have on people.” (Referring to Agent Orange, GMOs, etc). Before I could even respond, our professor cut him off to hand back our survey results. It’s probably a good thing she did before I threw away all of my class and dignity and chucked my turkey wrap at his head.

So, in preparation for class we were instructed to complete a response survey created by me and two other classmates, also known as the “Farm Girls.” The results (including anonymous quotes from classmates) are as follows:

  1. Who do you feel that the film Food Inc. is attacking?
    • 83% Corporations
    • 4% Farmers
    • 0% Consumers
    • 13% Other
      • “Both corporations and farmers. Corporations are mainly to blame, but at the same time farmers are compromising their values and the food supply for monetary gain so that they can continue to support their farms and families.”
  2.  What was the most important issue brought up in the film, Food Inc.?
    • Food safety and disease prevention
    •  Corporations are controlling farmers and the market
    • Putting unhealthy products into the market without considering the health of consumers
    • Industrialization and modernization of today’s agriculture
      • “Personally, I believe the most important issue brought up during the film was the lack of overall consumer knowledge and the hurdles that are placed out there to keep information at bay and harder to obtain, whether it is for a consumer or agriculturalist. I believe there is a strong movement that needs to be attended to working towards a more ‘glass case’ environment in terms of our food production.”
  3.  While watching the film Food Inc., did you find the portrayal of any practices, technologies, farm operations, etc. hard to believe?
    • The Monsanto controversy
    • Organic being healthier than everything else
    • Ammonia being used in meat packing plants
    • Chicken farming practices and techniques
      • “I am not sure if I would describe it as ‘hard to believe’ – however, I believe that some of the imagery chosen for the documentary was chosen in order to best hook an audience by tugging at their heart strings, very similar to the tactics taken by Chipotle in their Scarecrow commercial released in the Fall of 2013.”
  4. Modern agriculture has no glaring problems
    • 0% Yes
    • 100% No
  5. After the film, Food Inc. did you go look up information about the topic discussed?
    • 50% Yes
    • 50% No
  6. Are there any technologies used in modern day agriculture that you believe address environmental or human health issues negatively?
    • Waste entering our water supply
    •  Pesticides, chemicals and other unnatural ingredients
    • Over use and reliance on GMOs
    • Fast production and “efficiency” tactics
    • Use of antibiotics in animals
      • “There is a long list of things in modern day agriculture that affect the environment. We have pollution issues in water from fertilizer run-off and soil eroding into the water. There are numerous other things, but we are slowly starting to correct them. There are not as many health issues today as there were in the past. The biggest issue now is just to produce healthier food, and produce enough to feed the worlds growing population.”
  7. Are there any technologies used in modern day agriculture that you believe address environmental or human health issues positively?
    • Waste management plans implemented by farmers
    • The use of GMOs
    • Increased production of food allowing us to feed the world
    • Sanitation in food processing companies, eliminating harmful bacteria
      • “There are many things that have positively influenced environmental concerns. Such things as methane digestors convert methane in manure to energy (like electricity) and reduce the methane put into the air. Also, I believe modified crops have allowed higher yields and disease resistance which has lead to more food for the growing population.”

So, simply put… a lot of these answers reflect issues us as “agvocates” face every day. People think antibiotics are bad, GMOs are the devil, corporations are trying to take over the world… yada yada yea we get it, you hate the modernization of agriculture. And we were debating and forth for an hour, everyone with good (but different) points and opinions. But what we DID all agree on as a class is this; Food Inc. was simply portraying that modern day is bad and organic is good. HOWEVER, if you pay very close attention, you’ll realize this guy (for lack of a better expression) shits on organic production as well (when Stonyfield sold their company and their products ended up in Walmart). Basically, anybody who goes “big” is bad.. very very bad.

At the end of class, whether or not any minds were changed from the beginning to the end, one point was made clear… if us “farm girls” want to make a statement, we need to try something else. We can argue all day in the agricultural community that we’re doing what it takes to reach out to consumers, but if the consumers disagree… are we really doing what it takes? A soon-to-be film major put it perfectly:

“Before Food Inc. I never would’ve cared or had an interest in what I’m eating at all, and I know the same is true for the general consumer. The fact of the matter is, people are in love with convenience and it’s hard to get them away from it without scaring them out of their seats. It’s why the news broadcasts extremes, not happy mediums. It’s why activists ignore points that count against them. The point is to build up a big enough problem that people want to do something about it…..In class people mentioned a lot of discussion that was happening in the community of agriculture, but nothing really happens when you’re preaching to the choir. You’ve got to get your message out to the public and in a way they want to see. People always talk about wanting to back to the good ol’ days but no one really means, why would I drive a half hour into the farmlands when my grocery store down the block has tomatoes and for less. So instead I think moving forward is the way to go. Digital media has made so much information sharing possible. For example the protests in Egypt were aided and organized through facebook. Prof. Ostiguy mentioned that she likes to know her farmer, I think a lot of us would. And I think there’s a huge division in or culture where there doesn’t need to be. I think it’s time for people to integrate into the new media since that’s where people give their attention. So if farmers could enter into the media and become less of strangers to America that would be great.”
The class of consumers has spoken… and there were enough of us who listened. Next step? Digital media ladies and gentleman. Until then… bring on the next battle of “Farm Girls vs. The Public” because we’re all ready, and we’re excited.

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