Food, Inc.: 4 Quotes, 4 Steps, 3 Boycotts, 1 Promise

by Red Pill Mama · 5 comments

in Advertising+Media,Environment,General,Health+Wellness,Nutrition+Food,Politics+Policy

I’ve now watched Food, Inc. And I’m sorry I was so flip about it when I posted on Monday.  Overall, right now, I can only characterize the way I feel as weird.  I feel weird.  Creepy and weird.  Yet at the same time, I also feel grateful, galvanized and newly motivated.  Grateful that despite what the documentary has shown me is going on in this country, this is still a country where we can be shown what is going on in this country.  The only reason companies like Tyson, Smithfield and Monsanto are getting away with what they are getting away with, and that former agribusiness executives are finding themselves in high positions within our food regulatory agencies and Supreme Court, is simply because not enough people know, not enough people care, and not enough people are doing anything about it.  But as Gary Hirshberg, founder of Stonyfield Farms, pointed out in the film, the market responds to consumers (referring to Wal-Mart carrying organic products and RBST-free milk).  So I know, despite how bad (really bad) things are right now, that things can change.

Galvanized and newly motivated?  Well of course.  In The Red Pill Parents, I have a forum – smaller at this time than I would like it to be, but growing nevertheless – to help alleviate the “not enough people know” part.  I am also galvanized and newly motivated to continue to educate myself about, and refine, my food buying choices.  Just when I think I’m doing pretty good, I realize I still have a ways to go – but that’s OK.  The more we know, the more we know how much we still need to learn, and this learning process will ultimately fully satisfy the second tenet of Red Pill Thinking, because it will ultimately lead me to make decisions that are best for myself, my family, humanity in general and the planet at large – since all parties involved in that statement are intimately interconnected.  (I am also grateful for RPP, all its readers, and my ever-enthusiastic partner in this endeavor, Red Pill Papa.)

I’m relying on the fact that you all will have seen this film at some point (because you just bloody have to!), and so rather than trying to summarize or synopsis-ize or anything-ize it, I will simply share four quotes which I rewound multiple times in order to transcribe just right, because they are brilliant, profound, simple and complex at the same time, and must be fully ingested:

From Barbara Kowalcyk, food safety advocate and mother of Kevin Kowalcyk, who died a gruesome death at age 2 ½ from E. coli poisoning from contaminated meat:

“We put faith in our government to protect us, and they are not protecting us at even the most basic level.”

From Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation:

“(Our) regulatory agencies are being controlled by the very companies that they’re supposed to be scrutinizing.”

From Joel Salatin, founder of Polyface Farms, where cows eat grass, poop on the grass, and mow the (naturally fertilized) grass, along with many other natural, completely logical farming processes:

“A culture that just views a pig as a pile of protoplasmic inanimate structure, and can be manipulated by whatever creative design humans can foist upon that critter, will probably view individuals within its community and other cultures in the community of nations, with the same type of disdain and disrespect and controlling-type mentality.”

Yes, you may have to read that a few times, but it certainly spells out the larger social and planetary ramifications of what has become our norm in food production – because it’s about way more than just the public health.

Watching the film from the site as I did, I was also treated to Notes on Milk, a condensed (I just said condensed: HA!) version of a larger documentary about the milk industry.

From Rob Moore, a dairy farmer who lets his cows stay outside (where they belong), only produces milk seasonally (because cows naturally only calve and produce milk in the spring) and is continually laughed at by his status quo dairy-farming neighbors:

“When you’re brought up a certain way, you forget about what makes sense and you just do what you’re taught.”

I have been feeling rather content over the fact that my kids only drink milk or water on a regular basis, just as my pediatrician recommends, as though I could sort of check it off the list as being something I had conquered or accomplished: and then, the unbelievably obvious realization comes to me via this film, that milk, like produce, is meant to be a seasonal product.  Like most animals, cows breed and calve in the spring.  If we respected the natural order of things (like allowing cows to poop on and mow the very grass that their bodies require), we would only have milk when it’s in season.  42 years on this planet and I never realized this before.  “When you’re brought up a certain way, you forget about what makes sense.”  Now, the whole idea of my two little human offspring drinking milk from a cow forced to breed out of season, kept inside, fed grain and separated from her calves, seems nothing if not downright unnatural and wrong.  Whose idea was this, anyway?  Oh yeah: Got Milk?  I’m sure the full version of this story, the documentary Milk in the Land: Ballad of an American Drink, will point out even more unnatural aspects of this practically holy American dietary staple.

OK, so I lied, I have one more quote, from the filmmakers themselves:

“You can vote to change this system, three times a day.”

Condensed again (because I’m enjoying using that word), here’s what you can do (your “4 Steps” are):

Buy Local

Buy Organic

Buy In Season

Join a CSA (or something I’ve just become aware of in my area: a service that offers a weekly delivery from the state farmers market), preferably from an organic farm.  But even if it’s not an organic farm, doing this will make a huge difference.  I believe it was Michael Pollan in The Omnivore’s Dilemma who said that if every American family ate just one locally sourced meal a week, it would turn agribusiness on its head (that is not a direct quote, mind you).  (Don’t know what a CSA is?  Visit to learn more about CSAs and even find one in your area.)

And you know what else I’m going to do?  3 Boycotts: No more Tyson, no more Smithfield, no more Monsanto (this last one will take some work, but I’m willing to do some research, which of course I will share with you.)  I’m not suggesting that we should believe absolutely everything we read or see (and indeed, the homespun banjo music contrasted with the Danny Elfman-esque creepy soundtrack to this film was certainly intended to influence our emotions), but given all the corroborating evidence that I’ve come across that tells the same story about these companies, combined with the fact that they refuse to be interviewed, I think retracting my dollars from their coffers is a pretty reasonable response.

The hardest part of this film to watch was the segment on Barbara Kowalcyk and the death of her son.  We all have children in our lives that we love and cherish, or we would not be writing or reading this.  As of the filming of this documentary, Kevin’s Law, a bill created in response to his death, which would actually give the USDA some authority to protect public health, had yet to be passed, seven years after his death.  Add the two years since the film was made, and that’s nine years.  After all this time, is it closer to being passed?  No.: Kevin’s Law, H.R. 2203: The Meat and Poultry Pathogen Reduction and Enforcement Act, has been “cleared from the books.”

So here’s the “1 Promise”: I promise I’ll look into this further, and see if anything can be done – perhaps the attention that Food, Inc. has brought to Kevin’s Law has raised it from the dead.  Stay tuned.

Red Pill Mama

p.s. Have you taken the poll?

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

theultimateoutcast December 16, 2010 at 2:10 pm

What a great post! I hope more people read this. Sounds like this guy could be a modern Aristotle for his great observations about our times: Joel Salatin.

About milk, years ago a coworker mentioned that kids don’t really need milk as evidenced in nature. Once babies are weaned, animals do not drink it. This influenced the milk my son drinks. After he was weaned at 15 months he rejected the taste of cow’s milk. He did eat cheese and considering two or three cubes would meet his daily need of calcium, he ate very little. People have thought I have deprived my child since he has had maybe 2 gallons of milk total (whenever he wanted it) in all of his 3 1/2 years.

His new doctor is pretty cool and from another country. When we spoke about it she said she hardly drank milk at all growing up and turned out fine. The milk thing has been pushed way too hard that people are not thinking!

theresa June 7, 2011 at 10:49 am

I am on the same mission as you with 2 little ones. I am really impressed with your site and with this post. I came upon it by accident, but, I guess there are no accidents.
Thank you for sharing! It is good to know there are lots of people who are having similar thoughts and actions. I don’t like grocery shopping anymore. I creepy and weird knowing the reality behind the pretty packaging.

Red Pill Mama June 10, 2011 at 10:04 am

I know, Theresa, isn’t the grocery store just this big, colorful farce? I love that I ask for things and a clerk will direct me to “the health food section” and I think, Well, if that’s the health food section, what’s the rest of the store for? The un-health food?

So glad you found us. I look forward to hearing from you again!

Alex May 9, 2012 at 7:55 pm

I really enjoyed this — the way you set it up (4 quotes…. ) I love your promise as well!

I feel the same way; this nation is so very broken on the most fundamental level. The surgeon general is screaming out against obesity, but Obama elects Mansanto CEO to the FDA. Do you remember those commercials about high fructose corn syrup a few years back, villifying those who spoke out against it? Well, not villifying, but making them seem unintelligent because when asked why shouldn’t I be eating/drinking HFCS, the other person would stone-wall, making it seem like they didn’t know what they were talking about, or that there’s no proof it’s bad for you. So frustrating.

Red Pill Mama January 11, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Alex a very belated thanks for chiming in – having jumped off the Red Pill train for a bit, I actually missed that about Michael Taylor heading the FDA. Given Michelle Obama’s work on childhood obesity and nutrition in general, I wonder what sort of pillow talk there was between the President and the First Lady on THAT little gem of an appointment …

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