Posts Tagged ‘Death On A Factory Farm’

It’s Michael Pollan’s World, We Just Live In It

Generally speaking, I’m an avid supporter of Michael Pollan.  He’s charming in that I-look-just-like-scrawny-vegan-Moby kind of way.

Ironically though, it seems there has come a point when even I am all Pollan-ed out.

I’ve read The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defence Of Food… who hasn’t, nowadays?  And I’ve seen Food Inc, King Corn, Death On A Factory Farm and others of their ilk that deal with the myriad problems affecting our global food systems.  But when I was browsing at the bookstore this past Christmas, I saw the latest tome in the Pollan repertoire, the slim and succinctly titled Food Rules.  To be frank, after thumbing through the pages I couldn’t bring myself to buy it for exactly 3 reasons;

1) It really struck me as “Food – For Dummies,” or rather a distilled version of his previous 2 books

2) I’m not keen on ideas once you start labelling them as “rules” because my inner anarchist says no, not to mention it makes it sound like some kind of slapdash lose-10-pounds-quick diet plan

3) It would be preaching to the choir since I try to maintain a diet centred around real food already, anyway


The Foodie 13 – Recommended SOLE Media

I’ve been quietly ruminating over my impressions of Food Inc. for a little while now.

The more I try to collect my thoughts, the angrier I find myself getting.  Actually, perhaps that’s not quite the right word.  Indignant is probably closer to the mark.

The movie itself is brilliantly made, and walks the fine line between eye-opening/educational and graphic/sensationalism rather successfully.  It’s an important movie, and one that I hope will get a more widespread release, because I think it’s something that people need to see.  Here in Canada, (according to it is only being screened at 2 theatres; one in Toronto and one in Montreal.  I’m somewhat surprised that nobody bothered to get it into a major urban market like Vancouver, but maybe the powers that be think (like I sometimes do) that they’re a bit ahead of the curve when it comes to getting back to “real” food, anyway.

In light of that, I thought this would be the perfect platform to discuss what I consider to be essential reading/viewing material for those interested in the  SOLE food movement.  Some of these may not exclusively focus on SOLE, but in the instances where the overall message meshes nicely with those ideals, I have chosen to include them on the list, anyway.

So without further adieu…

1 – The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan - When I first picked up a copy of Michael Pollan’s seminal work, I thought it was quite a novel idea.  The thought of tracing one’s food back to it’s source was entertaining, in a wouldn’t that be nice to know kind of way.  I was never a big fast food/junk food supporter in the first place, but after reading this book, I found my opinions changed in ways I hadn’t expected, specifically pertaining to organics and the skewed view we all have of them.  I’ve yet to meet a person who’s read the book and not had their food philosophy altered.  If you’re interested in re-evaluating your relationship with food, this book is a great place to start.


Oh My Gore

The Everyman and I live a relatively healthy, locally sustainable lifestyle.  And we’ve been doing it for a lot longer than it’s been en vogue, too.  We’ve never been militant about it, and to be honest I’m pretty certain that the Everyman just follows along because I do 95% of the cooking, but I am a strong believer in the ability to change the world in many small, impactful ways.  There are obviously things that we both enjoy that aren’t local (chocolate and tropical fruit for me and citrus and bananas for him) and we don’t exclusively limit ourselves just because something doesn’t grow in Canada.  I like to think of it more in terms of incremental savings; neither of us drinks coffee, and we rarely drink tea, plus I buy as many of the things I want to eat from local sources as I possibly can.  If I had to ballpark it, I’d say 85-90% of the food we consume comes from the farmland surrounding the Greater Toronto Area, and what doesn’t are the small luxuries or gourmet items we love, enjoyed sparingly but often.  During the summer that number is even higher because the majority of our fresh veg is harvested from right outside my patio door.

Always mindful of what I put in my body, when I saw that Death On A Factory Farm was on TMN last week, I decided to record it.  Given that the Everyman and I have wildly divergent tastes in television, film and literature, I knew it’d be a movie I’d be watching solo.  When I finally sat down to view it, it was during the 2 and a half hours a day that I typically have all to myself (before he monopolizes the tube) between when I get up and he stumbles out of bed in the morning.  It’s a film in a genre that I would refer to as a shockumentary, one that essentially beats you over the head with gruesome images or over-the-top histrionics in order to get the point across.  It delves into issues of animal cruelty (primarily), speaks a bit to industrial farming, and looks at the importance of sustainable agriculture.  There have been a lot of really heavy-handed documentaries about food production and commercialism in the past, like King Corn, Supersize Me and the Michael Pollan/Eric Schlosser epic Food Inc. but in truth I do think it’s important for people to ask questions and learn more about the places that food comes from, because what you learn just might surprise you.  Even just watching 5 minutes of the new 100 Mile Challenge program will show you that most have no clue what is local or where it comes from, aside from a styrofoam package or plastic wrapper.

This particular movie does a decent job of causing you to question all of those things, and more.  If you’re an animal lover or squeamish at heart, I would not necessarily suggest watching this (least of all alone, and definitely not first thing in the morning).  While it vividly documents the cruelty and injustice that exists in commercial farming, there are many images that now haunt my dreams.  Namely, a scene where the erstwhile farmers wantonly fling tiny, live piglets through the air, cramming them into a bin like so much garbage.  Just because an animal is destined for a dinner plate does not mean its life has no value, and that it shouldn’t be treated with kindness and respect.  The content of the movie serves to prove that there is too much commerce and not enough soul in larger scale operations today.  The disgusting climax of the film occurs when the intrepid, undercover farmhand catches the method the farmer uses to dispose of ill or stunted animals on tape.  I won’t go into it here, but it I found it abhorrent that people capable of such heartless actions exist.  From what our organic grocer (who used to be a farmer) has told me, farming is not a particularly profitable business, no matter what brand of meat or veg you’re growing.  Which is exactly why it boggles my mind that people who so obviously dislike animals and care very little for their welfare would choose to become farmers in the first place.  The only reason I could come up with is that they must’ve gotten some perverse enjoyment from exerting their dominance over small, simple creatures.  It’s a crying shame, but the fact that the whole thing went to trial at the end is a small, bittersweet victory.

As I said, earlier we don’t consume much that isn’t locally sourced, organically grown or of which I don’t know the provenance.  After watching Death On A Factory Farm, I can honestly say that the gravity of the movie has spurred me to be ever more vigilant about what ends up on my plate and in my belly.

Until next time…