Monday, May 3, 2010

Killer at Large and Food Inc.

The other weekend Jacob and I watched a few interesting documentaries that I have wanted to write about ever since and haven't had time until now.  The first one was Killer at Large which focuses on the obesity epidemic in the United States and the variety of causes involved.  This 2008 documentary takes an in-depth look at legislative, genetic, behavioral, and almost any other aspect of the causes of obesity you can think of.  The basic message is that obesity is a very real threat to us but there is no one factor we can point our finger at for causing obesity, it is a combination of things.  They do focus a bit on the whole issue of corn and high fructose corn syrup and how that became so prevalent in our foods by interviewing Michael Pollan and contrasts the industrial and small farm operations that supply food.  However, a majority of the film focuses on childhood obesity, and some of the issues tie in very well with the Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution if anyone has seen that.  It addresses problems with cheap lunches provided to students that count french fries and ketchup as legitimate vegetables, the prevalence of vending machines at schools (and the uproar that occurs from PARENTS when they are taken away or filled with healthy items), and the lack of activity that students have.  Overall, I highly recommend this film simply because it does make you think a bit more about our society in terms of how it is treating our children. 
The second documentary we watched was Food Inc.  I am sort of disappointed in myself for not watching it sooner, but because I've read so many books and watched other similar documentaries, I delayed seeing it until now.  This documentary looks at our food system and how it affects us as consumers and the environment.  It tied in nicely with Killer at Large since they both focus on the corn issue and obesity.  A lot of Food Inc. is hard to see, especially if you aren't really all that familiar with the issues at hand.  The footage of Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and the secrecy of large industrial agricultural companies is always a tough pill to swallow (for a look at one of the CAFOs in our backyard, check out Ohio Fresh Eggs).  Aside of animal cruelty issues, the documentary looks at acid resistant E. Coli strains that have developed as a result of the unsanitary conditions these animals are raised and slaughtered in.  It looks at Kevin's Law, which is trying to get safer meat in reaction to food recalls and the death of a young boy as a result of eating an infected hamburger.  The issues surrounding GMOs are discussed along with the problem of the various food industries becoming dominated by just a few companies.  This documentary is a great introduction to the industrial food chain if you are trying to get familiar with it.  It's also ideal for us educated veterans of the food industry because it reiterates just how important our local, safe food choices are and how important it is to stick to it even though it can be more difficult than the easy choice of running down the street to Kroger whenever you want.
You can find either of these documentaries at your local library (I know Columbus Metropolitan Library has them although Food Inc. is in high demand) and most video stores carry Food Inc.  Also, for teachers, Food Inc. does have a guide that goes with it which is also available at the Columbus Library.

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