Let’s Go To The Movies – But Ditch the Popcorn

Have you heard about Amazon Instant Video?

You can rent movies for like 3 bucks and watch it on your computer. It is one of the coolest and most useful things for a college student without a Blockbuster membership ever.

Seriously, I watched 2 movies in 4 days. Don’t look at me like that, one was for a class.

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The Secret of the Grain is a French film (love me some subtitles!) about a Moroccan family who lives in southern France. I designed my own honors course – because I can – on the role of food in the lives of Mediterranean women in the 20th century. I’ve been focusing on a fantastic text that focuses on food in Florence (of course), but the professor who is advising this project recommended I watch this. Amazon Instant Video to the rescue!!!! I loved this movie. Mostly because it brought food into the spotlight, but the way in which the director did it was very well done. If you can handle subtitles (and a little nudity – it is French, after all), I recommend it.

But the real exciting discovery on Amazon was…

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I’ve wanted to see Food, Inc. since it came out in 2008, but I generally fail at renting movies and just hadn’t gotten to it. (No, really – I even keep a running “movies-to-see” list on my computer. It only ever gets longer.) And then Amazon decided to fix it for me, for which I am very grateful.

Food, Inc. is a documentary exposing the crooked, creepy inside of the American corporate food system. It had quite an effect on viewers – one woman quit going to grocery stores for a year, and I’ve hear several people go vegan because of it. It features interviews with people from all over the food industry spectrum – although it was sure to note that representatives of the big companies that were not being shown in a particularly, er, flattering light declined to be interviewed for the film. Shocker.

I will say that, because of my inherent nerdiness and the Food & Culture class I took last spring in Florence, I knew a lot of the info that the movie put forward. And the parts that I didn’t know did not shock me because of my prior knowledge. (You should have seen me when we read articles about the food industry last spring though – I was angry. And NOT hungry.)

I do think that this is an important movie to watch as an American, a consumer, and a human being who is semi-aware of “rights” and “wrongs.” The corporate food industry is – for lack of a better word – disgusting. The corruption and greed overwhelms any remotely redeeming factor they might be able to boast.

I don’t think the film is nearly as gruesome as it could have been, which is good and bad; but I think that makes it more viewable to more people, and that is what’s important here. There were some things that I felt should have been included with more detail (like what exactly is so bad about GMOs and the corruption behind “organic”), but I also applaud what they manage to cover in an hour and a half of film.

For me, the film was inspiring, validating – but frustrating. I hate how tightly money is wrapped around this issue, but I suppose that is the way of the world. The dollar is your ballot and your loudest protester. But I won’t lie, when I am at the grocery store and I am forced to choose between the generic brand eggs for $1.50 and the organic, cage-free dozen for $3, it’s not an easy decision. And more than once, I’ve let the cheap side win.

Food Inc. has strengthened my resolve – and my conscience – and if money is how I have to assert my beliefs, then so be it. It may mean that I buy less, but all the more room for “real food” which can actually be quite cheap.

I’ll end what could very easily turn into a too-long ramble about my food philosophy with a list. I love lists, don’t you?

1. Watch Food, Inc. The knowledge it imparts is worth sticking through the not-so-savory parts. I promise.

2. Buy local first, organic second if & when you can. Vote with your dollar.

3. Our food industry is eff-ed up something bad. No time like the present to start trying to fix it.

Oh, and Eat Real Food. More on that tomorrow. For now, just go with me 😉

My roommate and I hopped online after the movie and found some pretty sweet resources. The Cornucopia Institute is an organization that aims for “economic justice for the family-scale farming community” – basically, they advocate local-organic-whole food. Sounds good to me!

The best thing about their research is that they have created “scorecards” that rate various brands of eggs, dairy, and soy products based on 22 criteria. The focus is on ethicallyproduced products. I’ve already marked down what eggs to look for next time I need them!

Egg Scorecard

Dairy Scorecard

Soy Scorecard

Have fun and eat ethically 🙂

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