What Food Activists Ignore
Rebecca Ruiz, 06.11.09, 1:40 PM ET
The new documentary Food, Inc., a meditation on the health and environmental costs of industrial food production, closes with a list of wholesome directives: shop at farmer's markets, plant a garden, eat locally, etc. It leaves viewers with an inspirational message: "You can change the world with every bite."
For skeptics, the mantra is easily ridiculed for its preciousness. For true believers, it's the latest attempt to shake Americans out of a complacency that has spawned diabetes and obesity epidemics, a preponderance of factory farms, a rise in e.coli infections and antibiotic resistance, and the corporate takeover of the country's food production.
It's also common practice, within the locavore movement, to make bogeymen out of multi-national corporations like Tyson and Monsanto. While certain practices, like forcing animals to gain weight rapidly and strictly controlling a farmer's seed stock, may seem reprehensible to some, such companies have built a revolutionary infrastructure that feeds billions of people.
Perhaps, as the film suggests, the industrial food complex has no regard for long-term public health and environmental costs. But if food activists continue to cling to unrealistic ideals--and atypical examples of success--and fail to confront the questions of cost and scale, then they will vindicate critics of the movement, who argue that this new era of food production is only for the privileged. Read More
The biggest issue that’s never discussed by critics of our food system is how they would feed everyone. They love to run on and on about how our system is broken and they have the solution. But their solution is temporary at best. Their production methods will not grow enough food to feed everyone. You would think this would be everyone’s goal, but sadly it’s not. People like Michael Pollan continue to promote systems which will cause some people to go hungry, mostly the poor.