Friday, October 9, 2009

But Where's the Car Chase?

We took our two youngest children (15 and 18) to the movies last night. But not just any movie....a documentary (oh goodie:).
Food, INC. is a beautifully filmed, chillingly narrated treatise on our agricultural system. Steven and I were alternately frightened, inspired, and educated. Our kids were simply bored. At least they had the courtesy to wait until it was over to critique the film.

Wilson - "Mind numbingly boring." "Everyone who would come to watch this movie already believes this stuff."

Annie - "Too long."

.....sigh :(

One of my favorite parts was a segment on Joel Salatin (my hero) and Polyface farms, extensively chronicled in Michael Pollens Omnivore's Dilemma. Joel's farming techniques and belief in the interconnection of all parts of the farm.... from grass to cows to chickens and pigs to manure... is a throwback to America's oldest farming practices as well as a solution to what ails the industry today. He preaches a truly wholistic view of agriculture. His open-air chicken 'processing plant' was filmed, showing the actual butchering of the birds. Upside down in the cone, slit the neck, bleed them get my drift. My daughter (loudly) exclaimed her revulsion and surprise.....repeatedly. When Dad told her, "hey you eat that," she answered, "But I didn't know they were going to show it!!! ....Tell me when it's over."

I will say that watching the slaughtering of chickens was a bit disconcerting but we want to raise meat birds someday and I think it was beneficial to actually see it (in all it's crimson glory). Most consumers today share the desire to remain uninformed about what happens to food before it appears on our supermarket shelves. It's hard to change the way we shop and eat, especially in today's economy.

Our food system depends on consumers' not knowing much about it beyond the price disclosed by the checkout scanner. Cheapness and ignorance are mutually reinforcing. And it's a short way from not knowing who's at the other end of your food chain to not caring - to the carelessness of both producers and consumers. Of course, the global economy couldn't very well function without this wall of ignorance and the indifference it breeds. This is why the rules of world trade explicitly prohibit products form telling even the simplest stories - "dolphin safe," "humanely slaughtered," etc. - about how they were produced.

..........from The Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan

As far as our own little corner of the world and our children's contribution to changing the system as it is, our hope is that despite their less than enthusiastic reaction, seeds were planted (excuse the pun).

1 comment:

Steve said...

I especially liked the chickens and cattle shoulder to shoulder happily grazing on each others flanks.