June 20, 2009, 10:04 pm
Eating Up “Food, Inc.”
By Nicholas Kristof
My Sunday column was inspired by “Food, Inc.,” the new documentary playing in theaters nationwide. I argue that at the same time we examine our health care system, we should also take a look at our agribusiness system, which — I argue — tends to promote an unhealthy diet.
One window into journalism: A good chunk of Friday afternoon was spent chasing one elusive fact. Food, Inc. reported that the number of FDA food safety inspections had fallen from 50,000 in 1972 to 9,164 in 2006. I thought that was a telling statistic and included it in my draft, but I also asked my assistant, Natasha Yefimov, to double-check the figures with the FDA.
The FDA said the figures were wrong — both of them. The FDA acknowledged that the number of inspections had dropped, but said the 1972 figure was 10,610, while the fiscal year 2006 figure was 7,498 domestically and 125 abroad. The FDA said it had no idea where the other numbers could have come from. Read More
I have to admit that I am somewhat surprised by the fact that Kristof is the first to question any numbers given in the Food Inc. movie. However, maybe he’s disappointed that he wasn’t involved in this latest attack on American agriculture and family farmers. I have never made a movie, and chances are I never will. But if I did, and I was interested in having my film be as accurate as possible, I would double check any numbers being used. Apparently, the makers of this film weren’t interested in doing that. Simple things like this should make people wonder what else isn’t accurate in this movie.