A quiz, dear Grist reader, to determine if you should see the new documentary ‘Food, Inc.‘ (You start with 0 points. Total your points as you answer the questions.):
Do you eat food?
- Yes, three-square meals a day. Add 1 million points.
- No, I’m not into that right now. Subtract 50 points.
Have you read The Ominvore’s Dilemma?
- Yes, I loved it. I own a signed first edition, and I have a poster of Michael Pollan in my bedroom. I can probably recite the text of the 2008 Farm Bill from memory. Do you want me to try? Subtract 50 points.
- Well, I started it. I read the bit about corn, and the crazy farmer in Virginia who slaughters his own chickens, but the chapter about Big Organic went on and on, and yeah, I decided to read The Devil Wears Prada instead. Add 1 million points.
- No. I work for Monsanto. I’m reading this to track “organic” propaganda. You enviros are all wussies. Add 50 points.
Where does meat come from?
- Industrial CAFOS that poison our food system, pollute toxic waste, emit greenhouse gasses, depend on fossil fuels, exploit our livestock, and damage local economies. Subtract 50 points.
- The store! Right? Maybe the farm? Add 1 million points.
- A thriving agricultural system that supports our farmers, contributes to the economy, and feeds the world. Now, I’ve copied this URL into my database, and BTW, we’re scanning IP addresses too. Expect to hear from our lawyers. Add 50 points.
Total your score …
Over 1 million points: Should you see Food, Inc.? Yes. Right now. Run. Run out to the movie theater and buy a ticket for you and anyone around you. Let’s face it, you’re interested in food issues, a little afraid of E. coli, and against your better judgment, you’re never going to pick up that copy of the OD ever again. That’s why Food, Inc. is here; it’s essentially the movie version of OD, with a little bit of Fast Food Nation thrown in for good measure (Eric Schlosser is a producer of the film).
Besides the politics, Food, Inc. is a riveting documentary. Fast-paced and chock full of detail, the film does not shy from shocking, rarely-seen footage. Want a glimpse of a modern-day chicken coop? What about the meat filler in your hamburger? Ever seen someone slit a chicken’s neck? Welcome to our food system. This is where your lunch came from.
Between zero and 1 million points: Chances are this movie wasn’t really made with you in mind*. You know more about food politics than the filmmakers do, and Food, Inc. is an awaken-the-masses-with-bright-colors-and-scary-footage documentary. Much like what “Who Killed the Electric Car?” did for electric vehicles, the film’s aim is surely to bring the food debate to the mainstream.
Even if you effectively have a PhD in biological pest management, there is still something to be gained from seeing Food, Inc. When I saw the film, I was surprised to learn that batteries contain corn products, and that within 12 years the amount of Roundup Ready soy grown in this U.S. spiked from 2 to 90 percent of all U.S. soy beans. (For the record, Monsanto was very displeased with how it was characterized in the film and has since published a counter website) Plus, you can take your non-foodie friends and watch their jaws drop when they see a CAFO on the big screen.
* Exception! Do you utter Michael Pollan’s name in the same breath as “communist” or “arugula”? Do your paychecks come from the globe’s dominant GMO seed purveyor? Did you consider “3” at all? If so, you should make it a priority to see the inside of a CAFO or hear farmers speak frankly about your company’s products. Even if you shudder at the word “organic,” you should see Food, Inc. to flesh out your understanding of the food system.
Under 0 points: I urge you to reconsider some life choices. But what the hell? Yes, you too should see Food, Inc.
Watch it: Food, Inc. opened in theaters in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco on June 12. The film opens in Seattle and other cities across the country Jun 19. Check the film website to find a screening.