The Food Industry Helped Me Make 'Food, Inc.'
By Robert Kenner
Published: January 17, 2010
"Food, Inc." became a different film than the one I intended to make.
I thought it would be fascinating to look at how our food gets to the table -- from different points of view. On the one hand, we spend less on food today than at any other time in history. We can eat what we want, when we want it, regardless of seasons. On the other hand, this food has hidden costs that we’re all going to pay for down the line.
Industrial food production pollutes the water, robs nutrients from the soil, exploits the workers who grow and process the food, exploits the animals, and ultimately, it makes people sick. Seemed like fertile ground for a film.
As I started filming, I was not prepared for the stonewalling I’d get from the food industry. I wanted them to argue the benefits of the industrial system. I wanted to understand their point of view, but for the most part, the industry said no. In doing so, the film started to move in a different direction.
I became intrigued by why the industry would not speak to me about something as seemingly innocuous as food. What I discovered is that a handful of companies essentially control the food supply. They exert tremendous power over what we eat and how much – or how little -- we know about it.
I was stunned by the lack of transparency, the intimidation of critics, the influence over government. It felt like we were onto something bigger than food.
But would anyone care?
Apparently, yes. "Food, Inc." hit at just the right moment when people were interested and ready to listen. It benefitted from the groundbreaking work of authors Eric Schlosser and Michael Pollan, and from food activists who have worked for years to raise awareness. And the press took great interest in the film, which helped spread the word. Read More
When I was in Seattle last week, our group visited the Space Needle. While waiting to catch a ride on the elevator to the bottom, a conversation started with a young couple that lived in Seattle. They had seen the movie Food Inc. and when they found out we were all farmers and ranchers, they started asking questions. The biggest issue they were concerned with was why we were being forced to plant Monsanto seed. I’m sure we all gave them a funny look when they asked it. After asking why they thought that, they said that’s what they had learned from watching Food Inc. At the end of the conversation, they realized they’d been duped by this movie.
I think it’s almost comical to read Kenner’s version on how this movie started out so innocent. Do you really think a Hollywood movie, trying to disguise itself as a documentary, is going to do anything other than try to scare people? In order for these types of movies to stand a chance of making money they have to sensationalize and paint an unrealistic picture in the minds of the viewers.
Kenner might think we are fighting against him, but actually we are just fighting for the truth to be told about agriculture. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be something him or Michael Pollan are very worried about. If you want an great example of where the bottom line is the most important thing, don’t look at farmers and ranchers, just look at these two characters. Pollan won’t go speak unless he gets his $40,000-$50,000 fee. Just imagine what would happen if farmers didn’t plant a crop unless they were guaranteed daily salaries like this.