Following a recent birthday barbecue feast, I woke up before the sun with a wretched bellyache and proceeded to hurl my guts out. Nothing reminds you that you aren't 21 anymore like puking bacon cheeseburgers and red wine and going up against a hangover that feels like a jackhammer trying to deconstruct your skull. What's even more horrific is that bacon tastes the same coming up as it does going down. It was the first time in my life that I really thought I would never be able to eat meat again.
The second time was after I rented Food, Inc.
This movie is not a big screen PETA advertisement. It doesn't cram vegetarianism down our throats and it doesn't harass the carnivores for eating foie gras. It does make you question why you eat what you do, and it brings to light something the greater American public seems more than complacent about: the horrific lack of concern as to where the food we nourish ourselves with comes from -- and what it goes through before it hits our mouths.
I wasn't squeamish after viewing this film from the guilt I've got over indulging in corn-fed beef: I was embarrassed by the fact that I'm haphazardly contributing to a repulsively corrupt system that's continually given free reign to compromise something as simple and necessary as food. To add insult to injury, they're doing all of this while totally screwing the underdog--the independent farmer who is capable of producing food and meat that will safely fill our bellies and not morph us into cancerous allergy-ridden lard-asses.
We're the richest country in the world, but maybe it's because we'd rather make a buck using government subsidies for corn and sugar than feed our people with some integrity. God Bless America. I'll step down off of my soapbox now, but not before leaving you with the top five shocking food facts from Food, Inc.:
5. Top heavy Hell: The majority of mass-produced chickens are raised in the dark. Their breasts are so large that they're unable to walk. But that's okay, because they're not allowed to. The antibiotics they are fed to keep them breathing in such conditions end up right there in every bite of your sandwich.
4. Something smells rotten: The USDA is allowed to regulate what constitutes organic food and when your milk is past due, but it does not have the authority to shut down a meat plant if they are selling tainted meat. If the USDA can't stop this, who does? No one, that's who. Creepy.
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3. McShit: The average hamburger contains meat from nearly 100 cattle. It gets better. Mass production cows are often raised knee-deep in their own manure. They're butchered so fast that there often isn't enough time to clean them. The end result? Cow pie in your cheeseburger.
2. Grass is good: We've all heard why grass-fed beef is better. But do you really know why it's better? Cows are not designed to digest corn, and when they do, their stomachs become breeding grounds for E.coli bacteria. Five days of feeding grass to Bessie would kill nearly all of this bacteria, but apparently that's too much of a hassle. Instead, meat plants are "washing" ground beef in ammonia and chlorine before packaging it to sell to grocery stores. Delicious.
1. No comment: Robert Kenner, the film's producer, contacted 50 of the largest food producers in America, including Tyson, Monsanto, and Smithfield Farms. None agreed to be interviewed, and none would allow cameras anywhere near their production facilities. Food, Inc. took six years to make, and a large percent of Kenner's production costs went toward legal protection from the aforementioned companies.
In the economic mess we're all facing, it's difficult and, at times, inconvenient to change our ways. However, the least we can do is educate ourselves, and for under five bucks you can rent Food, Inc. and see what all my fussing is about. Then go out and find yourself a local farmer (it's easier than you think here in Colorado) and, in turn, a clean steak.