“Food, Inc.” had intense painful scenes of factory farms and poor families forced to eat cheap crappy food. It showed the suffering of animals and workers, the dispossession and control of small farmers, the injustice and depravity of our food system, the cavalier poisoning of the population for profit. It made me cry, and it made me hate capitalism even more than I already did. It made me indulge in fantasies of mobs of furious people busting into the offices of CEOs and the politicians who help them, and dragging them out for some righteous punishment.
Like “Inconvenient Truth,” the film presented the problems in a strong, compelling way.
It’s unforgivable that, also like “Inconvenient Truth,” the ending completely ruins it.
“Food, Inc.,” started going bad in the last half hour or so. When the upbeat, happy-signifying music started during a scene of an altie-foods fair, my heart sank. I knew the film was doomed and that once again we would be served up a plate of bullshit instead of the truth about what we need to do.
The key turning point of the film was when the President/CEO of Stonyfield yogurt made the outrageous (and self-serving) declaration “Capitalism will not go away,” and explained that the way to stop evil corporate food production was to build even bigger (yet non-evil) corporations to produce America’s food. From that moment, the film became an advertisement for Stonyfield, and a celebration of the fact that Wal-Mart carries it. People demand good food, and Wal-Mart is giving the people what it wants! Yay, Wal-Mart and Stonyfield!
So to re-cap, the totally evil industrial food industry, which controls the vast majority of what we eat in this country, and as the film just made a compelling case for, is irredeemably corrupt, disgusting, Earth-destroying, rapacious, merciless, and inherently self-expanding, can be fought by:
1) Supporting different big businesses that offer healthier choices (Stonyfield is owned by Group Danone of France, which also owns Evian water — thanks for the plastic bottles).
2) Doing TEN SIMPLE THINGS (I am NOT kidding — look at their web site!) — aka making easy individual lifestyle changes — aka “voting with your dollars” — aka make “wise consumer choices.”
3) Signing petitions (yes! look at the website!) begging the very government that was just exposed in the film itself as being tightly intertwined (indeed indistinguishable from, indeed the SAME PEOPLE) with corporate agribusiness, to pass laws for healthier and safer food.
Once again, our power is reduced to that of consumer. Change is up to each of us as an individual. Change is NOT, heaven forbid, to come from organizing into a mass protest movement or guerrilla army or revolutionary party or network of saboteurs or any other political formation that actually has a prayer to force the industries to stop poisoning us and destroying the planet.
Another part of the movie’s web site lists its “NGO associates.” I’ve talked with activists from Haiti, Bangladesh and other oppressed nations who used to spit in contempt when they talked about NGOs, and insisted that they were a not just a non-neutral, but in fact a counter-revolutionary force. They’re groups designed to “help” people while siphoning off, buying off and interfering with revolutionary aspirations.
That’s how this film and others like “Inconvenient Truth” function. Everyone (everyone who’s sane and awake) knows we are in trouble with climate change. Everyone knows the Standard American Diet is killing us. To deny these truths after they become obvious to everyone would make the system lose credibility. People are grumbling already. So these spokespeople for the system decide to “educate” us about the problem, make a great important (widely publicized) statement about how dire it is, for the sole purpose of diverting our energy into ineffective activities that leave the system in place.
The people who run and benefit from this system know that they will never solve these problems. The problems are embedded in the mechanics of industrial capitalism and even civilization itself. The system functions by converting the natural world (including humans) into resources, and resources into cash — it’s very defining purpose is to turn life into dead, storable wealth. It can not be reformed. It must be destroyed. They know this. They try very very hard to hide this reality from the rest of us. They use very convincing propaganda that often SEEMS oppositional, to make sure that we never come to this conclusion.