I watched “Food, Inc.” tonight on PBS.  I was horrified.  I can’t say that a movie has ever changed the way I view something, but I am seriously re-thinking what and how I eat after watching this doc.

There were so many touching and compelling moments in this film: the family that said it is more affordable for them to eat a fast food burger than to buy a bunch of broccoli at the supermarket; the mother who lost her 2-year-old son to e-coli due to infected ground beef and who 9 years later still can’t get an apology from the company that manufactured the meat; the farmer who was sued by Monsanto Corp. for providing seed-cleaning service to farmers and who lost his dignity when – under oath – he had to name all the other farmers (many of whom were personal friends) who had to stop using his service because of threats by Monsanto; the illegal immigrant workers being dragged away in handcuffs while the corporation that wooed, recruited and hired them holds no accountability; and the many scenes of apalling, unhygienic and barbaric animal breeding by the farmers who are paid (very little) by the multi-billion dollar companies that dominate food manufacturing.

I see how paradoxical it is when all the images we see in supermarkets are agrarian, and their messaging talks about “farm to table”, when in reality, even the lettuce in their store is mass-produced and probably genetically modified.

Perhaps the most frightening piece of the story is how politics and big business are in bed together to shield consumers from the truth about what is going into the food we eat.  So much for campaigning on “family values” – the US government is killing the American family!  This is directly affecting skyrocketing healthcare costs, but they can’t even see the connection because they’re operating in silos.  Who’s keeping tabs on the big picture here?

I have never considered becoming a vegetarian and I still won’t, even after seeing what I saw about how cows, chickens and pigs are bred.  I’m not ashamed to admit it: I love my meat.  I don’t like how meat is manufactured and processed for me, but I guess I now understand how the animals could be bred in a more natural way.  The slaughtering disturbs me, without question.  No matter how it’s done, it’s horrific… I appreciated how the film didn’t preach vegetarianism as the solution, though.  The movie ended with some solid, actionable ideas.  I think the biggest take-away for me was to be a stronger supporter of local farmers; they are the real heart of it all (or certainly could be if we gave them the support they deserve).  Bruce Springsteen (and perhaps even Kid Rock) always knew that.  Job well done, Robert Kenner.

Let’s see if I can put my money where my mouth is; what will I have for dinner tonight?