Food Inc Reflection Essay English

Reaction Paper - Food Inc.

My reaction to, and thoughts about, the documentary 'Food Inc.'

Food Inc. 2008. Robert Kenner and Participant Media.

For this reaction paper, I viewed the documentary 'Food Inc.' which explores, in depth, the inner workings of the modern food industry to identify the ways in which food production has changed. Today, our food is often marketed as being "Farm Fresh," which gives consumers the idea that farms still look like they did in the 1930s and 1940s. However, this is not the case. Modern food production appears to be more of a factory than an idealistic farm setting. Thousands of chickens are packed into dark, poorly ventilated houses, hundreds of thousands of cattle are stocked in dry feed lots, and fruits and vegetables don't have growing seasons any more because of genetic engineering. Doesn't this seem wrong?

Food safety and production is an issue that I hold very near to my heart, and this documentary discusses this. Food Inc. goes into detail about how the food industry has become oligopolistic, that is, run by just a few major companies. This is because those companies have developed some sort of edge - via technology, marketing, etc. - which has allowed them to become very successful. Due to this success, they seek out large-scale providers of ingredients necessary to make their products and control the quality of those products, forcing smaller businesses with less say in the matter to comply. This sort of corruption is similar to what has occurred with genetic engineering. I have written multiple papers on the topic, including one last semester, and through my research I have found that the situation is very much the same. In that market, "big buck" companies develop and patent genetically engineered seeds which are in high demand. Due to the patents, however, small farmers cannot compete and are often run out of business because the products they can provide are not in high demand.

Another issue that I care deeply about is the issue of animal welfare. In the English class which I took this semester I wrote a paper on animal welfare, and my research only made me care more about the issue. In the food production industry, the major corporations which control the quality of the products being produced by major providers care only about profit, and not the well being of the animals they are producing. One example in Food Inc. related to chickens. The chickens produced by big corporations such as Tyson and Perdue have engineered the chickens to grow to four times the size of a normal chicken in half the time. Though the skin and muscle have been designed to grow very quickly and efficiently, the bones and internal organs of these modified chickens can not keep up. The documentary showed several clips of these mutant chickens taking a few steps and then having to lay back down because their bodies can not support their weight. This is appalling. Production animals everywhere are suffering so these corrupted companies can dominate the market and keep turning profits.

This documentary has presented issues which relate to classes I have taken in the past, but they relate to Science and Global Change as well. One of these issues relates to climate change. The aforementioned massive corporations only produce mostly-corn-fed animals. In order to produce the corn necessary to feed these animals, the corn must be planted, fertilized, harvested, and transported, and all of these actions contribute to global warming through the production of greenhouse gases. Also, many major production animals such as cattle are not "designed" evolutionarily to efficiently consume and digest corn. They most efficiently digest forage. This indigestion causes for an increased production of gases, particularly methane. This is already known to be a greenhouse gas with a large impact on climate change and global warming. A large portion of Science and Global Change's curriculum for this semester consisted of learning about how human action is impacting our Earth's climate. Food Inc. relates to this in that it discusses how society's actions pertaining to food production are detrimental to our planet.

Overall I found this documentary to be very effective. I think that it covered all of the major aspects of the food production industry and did a good job of pointing out the flaws with each of these aspects. It simplified some of the more complicated components of the industry and made it easy for the audience to comprehend the messages it was trying to convey. However, I do believe it could be made more effective by tying all of the information together better, as well as by providing more of a "So what?" component. All of the sections are well developed but I found it hard to relate them to one another. I also think that, though they did very effectively point out many of the major issues existing in the food industry, the audience could be made to feel more powerful by making them feel as though they have the power to change the issues at hand.

Last modified: 13 May 2014

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