About two weeks ago Naomi, her mom, and I went to go see the new movie Food, Inc. in Highland Park, IL. We luckily ate before the movie, because I do not think any of us would have been up for a meal afterwards. Food, Inc. had a familiar "plot" to anyone who has read any of Michael Pollan's books or read Fast Food Nation. However one of the movie's heroes I found quite surprising.
The movie begins with a casual walk through a grocery store. We see the bounty that is the American diet, however Robert Kernner then invites us to look closer at the true cost of this bounty. It is a cost that many people will have to pay in the years to come. It will come in the cost of heart disease, type II diabities, and much more. This is a movie that can easily overwhelm and scare you. You may wonder how did we get this way? The answer is simple as a society we have become to far removed from the source of our food.
One of the prices that we must now pay for our cheap food are E.coli outbreaks. Yet industry in a moment of terrifing brilliance has developed a way to remove that price from the meat we eat. The solution is simple and of course completely unnatural, "wash" the meat in ammonia hydroxide and kill everything that is living on or in it. The meat will be completely sterile at the end; no bacteria and certainly no taste. Of course the industry could also just feed cows grass instead of corn and this problem would be solved as well. But that would cost more than washing every bit of meat in an industrial washing machine.
So who is our surprise hero of the story, Wal-Mart. Yes the proverbial Satan of corporate America. You see Wal-Mart is an economic juggernaut who gets exactly what it wants. And what Wal-Mart wants is milk from cows raised without rBGH, which incidently is made by using E.coli. Therefore as the CEO of Stonyfield Farms tells us that by dealing with Wal-Mart you can make a significant change. However, I may be a bit cynical and I certainly do not have much, if any, faith in big corporations to do what is best for us. Therefore I can only fall back on a well used quote, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." So in the words of Robert Kenner vote three times each day and make your vote count by buying local food that was raised ethically and organically.
For more information watch these interviews with Robert Kenner and/or Michael Pollan