Saturday, October 03, 2009

Local Food Film Festival, Part I

Last night, I went to the first night of the Alaska Local Food Film Festival at the Bear's Tooth Theater. To kick off the festival, they showed Food, Inc. I have to say, it occurred to me while watching this movie that perhaps showing movies about how our food is made/grown at a place where you are supposed to be eating dinner was not the world's best idea. However, the movie was really good, albeit gross and disturbing.

I think one of the things that bothered me most is how apparent it was that when we go to the grocery stores, what we see are not choices, but is actually the illusion of choice. First of all, due to all the food conglomerates, most products are owned by the same few companies. Secondly, the food labeling system hides a lot of information -- like what our food is actually made from. Did you know that there are corn products in cheese? (Well, they showed Velveeta, which IMHO, is not cheese, but still).

Here are a few facts I learned from the movie that I found particularly interesting or enlightening:
  • The average chicken farmer has to take out loans of $500,000 to build 2 chicken houses. From those chicken houses, they earn $18,000 a year.
  • Feeding cattle corn actually encourages the growth of e. coli bacteria, because cattle are not meant to eat corn. Feeding a corn-fed cow grass for 4 days will clear out most of the e. coli. But instead, hamburger manufacturers make a filler (from God knows what, it was really gross) and treat it with ammonia to kill the e. coli. That's right, your fast-food hamburger was sprayed with ammonia. Yum.
  • Monsanto (the same company who made DDT and Agent Orange), the maker of Roundup, has patented a genetically modified soybean that is resistant to Roundup. Farmers are no longer allowed to harvest and replant seeds due to patent infringement -- even if they do not use the genetically modified seeds.
  • But, in an interesting (positive) twist, Walmart, the evil mega-corp, has started carrying organic food and bovine growth hormone-free milk...because of customer desire. That's right, enough people asked for BGH free milk that Walmart has started carrying it. So what does that tell us? Voting with your dollars works.
I would really recommend any one to see this movie. But if you decide not to, I ask one thing: learn something, anything, about where your food comes from. I think it will really change the way you eat.

Next up: Eating Alaska, the film about the vegetarian lady who marries a hunter and commercial fisherman. I plan to get to the Bear's Tooth early for this one, as it will probably be pretty popular.

Edited to add: One of my loyal blog readers requested the name of my birthday books. The one about gardening is Gaia's Garden, and the one about sustainable living is called The Sustainable Toolbox.


Kelly Muys Wood said...

interesting that

1. they offered chow during the film

and 2. all the stuff you learned

i wonder if that film festival ever hits the sunshine state?


p.s. you can grow orchids in alaska?

p.p.s. it IS energy star rated! the larger one, anyway.

L said...

Well, the theater it was shown at is a theaterpub, so they always have food and beer. Which is good, except when you're seeing images of slaughter houses and food processing plants. Again, not necessarily well thought out.

Yes, you can grow orchids in AK, they're just a LOT more work! My orchid stays indoors, with a grow lamp, and I have it on a pebble tray to provide extra humidity. Even with all that, it still hasn't bloomed for 5 years.

And that's awesome about the fridge! I would love to have one like that when we buy a house!

Kelly Muys Wood said...

Well, now that it's blooming, we MUST see pictures! Or did I some how miss them?! (We've been under the weather, so I've been really out of it lately.)


Alpha Monkey said...

I read about some of that stuff in "The Omnivore's Dilemma." It was eye-opening and disturbing. Thanks for sharing the titles of your birthday books!