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Why I don’t want to see Food, Inc. (but will anyway)

Posted Jun 19 2009 5:41pm
By now I’ve watched the trailers for the new movie Food, Inc., read a bunch of reviews and blog commentaries, and heard about it from friends. It sounds like an important, informative, thought-provoking film. I highly recommend that you catch it at a theater near you, or pre-order the DVD if it’s not playing in your city.

But I’ll be honest with you: I’m kind of afraid to see it myself. Food, Inc. examines the reality of how food is produced in this country. As you may already know, it’s not a pretty picture.

I remember the day I first picked up a PETA brochure. I was in my early twenties and had spent my entire life eating meat without once thinking about what life had been like for the animals I was eating. Which was pretty obtuse of me, because having grown up with pets, I knew firsthand that animals felt affection, pain, and fear, just as I did. After the PETA material, I read Diet for a New America by John Robbins. After that, there was no way I could be continue to be part of a consumer model that condemned innocent creatures to such miserable existences.

For a long time, that meant being a vegetarian. In recent years I’ve eaten meat on occasion, but only if I know the creature who relinquished its life for my dinner was treated humanely.

The intervening years since I stumbled upon that PETA brochure haven’t dulled my horror reflex. At nutrition school a few years ago, we watched a video of chickens in a factory farm being debeaked by machine, their eyes closing at the instant the metal jaws clamped down. I couldn’t sit through it; I retreated to the ladies’ room, where I found several other women sobbing as hard as I was.

No, this stuff isn’t at all comfortable to contemplate -- it’s easier not to think about it and keep on eating burgers, fried chicken, and bacon as if other creatures' suffering doesn't matter. But consider this: all that suffering is making us sick, as well. Animals crowded into factory farms are dosed with antibiotics to contain the spread of disease, which then find their way into our own bodies. They eat unnatural diets that alter the chemical nature of their meat, making it higher in saturated fat and cholesterol. What’s bad for other living creatures is unhealthy for us, too.

Food Inc. not only reveals where our meat comes from -- it also looks at genetic engineering, foodborne illness, farm worker safety, the environmental impact of industrialized food production, and other issues that affect our health in a very real way. So please, please, see Food, Inc. I promise to go if you will.
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