Thursday, April 22, 2010

"Food, Inc." and Thoughts Afterwards

Last night "Food, Inc." played on the Iowa PBS channels (and maybe nationwide?). That is pretty interesting in and of itself, but what I found more interesting was the show that played afterwards here in Iowa. "An Iowa Journal" (this link will take you to the full episode, but you can also view clips below the main video) was featured after the film and included an interview with Craig Lamb (head of the Iowa Farm Bureau) and Neil Hamilton (Drake University Agricultural Law Center and 10-acre market gardner). Obviously a film like this would bring out a lot of opinions here in Iowa, a state that leads the nation in corn, soybean, egg, and hog production.

One of the words that kept coming up in the discussion was "choice". But, I don't think everyone agreed all of the time on what "choice" actually was. If you have 50 minutes of free time I would encourage you to check this out. I had it running in the background while I was doing some other work and found it very interesting to listen too.

If you do have time to take a listen tell me what you think ... was it an unbiased discussion? Did they pick out bits to cling on to that didn't tell the whole picture? I'm just curious what others think.


Rich said...

I'm not sure what you mean exactly by 'unbiased discussion', but I think it was a pretty balanced and reasoned discussion of a documentary that is far from unbiased.

Ethan Book said...

Rich - That's what I was getting at ... was it balanced or do you think the "moderator" had an angle he was coming from? I really didn't listen to much for anything and as I said I had it running in the background while I was working, but it should be noted that the host does other shows on IPTV and radio that are funded heavily by large ag corporations ... just a mater of disclosure there.

As for the documentary being far from unbiased ... sure I can agree with that statement. It doesn't make all of the information presented wrong though. Also I would add, that I don't think it is possible to be unbiased ... news shows aren't, news papers aren't, tv hosts aren't, sportscasters aren't ... and I'm not unbiased ;) We do need to filter though and check everything with our worldview and truth detector :)

Rich said...

I didn't mean to leave the impression that I thought the information in 'Food, Inc.' was wrong, in fact, most of it is based in truth.

But, it irritates me when shows like this falsely imply that all feedlot beef has manure in the ground beef since the cattle supposedly stand ankle deep in manure. Conveniently, they leave out the part about how the carcasses are washed before skinning to specifically remove the risk of manure contaminating the meat. There is no reason to mislead the viewer so you can make a sensational point about hamburger coming with a manure slurry mixed into it. Employing these types of tactics always makes me question the other assertions that the filmmaker is trying to make me believe. Using footage from HSUS in the film and promoting HSUS as part of the solution on the Food Inc. website also makes me question their true motives.

I don't think the after show discussion tried to mislead the viewer in the same way. Regardless of whether I agree or disagree with the opinion of a speaker, I don't like the speaker trying to mislead me with half-truths or distortions.

Speak the truth, have a honest open debate, and problems can usually be fairly solved.

Anonymous said...

Salatin does the same thing with his "manure soup" line, or boil your chicken and get manure broth. His is a sales line not the truth derived from facts but more of an exageration. I don't think it does him or the food movement much good when he goes out on his exclusive limb.

Geoff said...

Rich - I think you might be mistaken on the washing of the cattle's hide before slaughter and even if it is, there is no way to remove all the manure from those animals and still keep the production line moving. The carcasses are washed after the hides have been removed but it's still a rapidly moving system - I was able to visit an IBP plant where they're slaughtering around 2040 head per day. They do their best but at those rates "stuff" happens.

I think that consumers should have a choice in how they spend their dollar and, if they want to support small local producers that handle their animals a certain way, they are entitled to do that.

There are some serious issues with our "production" system(s)- for example - pen riders in feedlots (I've spoken to them)know that if they're not seeing at least 5% acidosis, the animals aren't being "pushed" hard enough. Each extra day on feed costs money. That's just unnecessary and wrong.

Rich said...

Geoff - I haven't visited a processing plant personally, but I have seen videos of a line. The cattle were killed, then were hung and carried through a 'spray booth' to clean the hides. After the 'spray booth', they were skinned, washed again, and moved down the line for processing. If processors fail to incorporate something similar into their processing systems, then we are talking about a problem of meat processing techniques instead of livestock feeding methods.

I personally agree with you that "..consumers should have a choice in how they spend their dollar and, if they want to support small local producers that handle their animals a certain way, they are entitled to do that.."

I just don't think that it makes good long-term business sense to create the false impression that you should buy my beef because the beef sold in the grocery store is slathered in manure and will probably kill you.

I would rather market my beef on its merits, not a falsely created fear of the other guy's beef.

Somewhat related to that thought, the fact that the film suggests supporting HSUS if you are concerned about our current food production still makes me wonder about the true intent of the documentary. How would supporting an organization that promotes the elimination of livestock based farming benefit local producers of beef, pork, or poultry?

Yeoman said...

Slightly related to the comments here, yesterday we were treated to news reports that chemicals on vegetables at the grocery store may contribute to Attention Deficit Disorder.

I don't know if this will prove to be an unwarranted scare or not, but it made me regret that my town job has been so busy that I haven't been able to put in the large vegetable garden that I used to. Another casualty of "modern" life.

It also causes me to consider the extent to which modern humans have managed to really screw up natural systems, and for no good reason. Increased efficiency in everything comes with a cost. Part of that cost, it appears, is worrying about frozen berries, formerly a simple delight.

Walter Jeffries said...

Everyone has their bias depending on where they're coming from and where they're going. I felt the movie was well presented. But then I agree with it. I do feel they were not harsh enough on Monsanto. I suppose Monsanto has so much Evil they just ran out of time. Similarly, they should be cracking down on HSUS which is equally Evil. Big 'E' for both.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...