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Food, Inc. I watched it. My thoughts.

Food, Inc. is one of the books on my list of 100 books I want to read. However, I ended up watching the movie version on Sunday. I am on the fence between being rendered speechless and having so much to say that I don’t know where to begin. I’ll start simple. I am not a vegetarian; I am not vegan. The notion of being either has never really entered my subconscious. Bacon cheeseburgers are one of my favorite meals on the planet. Until now, I haven’t done much reading on animal food production. However, Food, Inc. equally disturbed and fascinated me. And I don’t think a trip to the grocery store will ever be the same for me again.

In the last year or so I have taken a much greater interest in the notion of self-sustainability and buying food locally. But nothing has smacked me in the face as hard as this movie. While it may make me a hypocrite since I am not a vegetarian, I absolutely abhor hunting for sport. I can’t stand the thought of animals being killed in the wild for fun, yet I’ve never really thought twice about eating animal meat since it seems that’s what we’re “supposed” to do. However, seeing the ways in which animals are raised, kept, slaughtered and processed has given me amazing perspective. I was also incredibly disgusted by so many of these practices and by how cross-connected these huge corporations and policy makers are. Then there’s the pervasiveness of corn products and how it makes its way into such a huge number of food products. I was astounded.

My head has been spinning, thinking about food, my food, its impact on animals, the environment, my health, and so on. I’m still not sure where this leaves me. To be sure, I will be buying as much local food as possible, especially locally raised meat. Luckily there is such a place less than 10 minutes from me, and while we get meat from there from time to time, I think I’ll be buying any meat exclusively from there from now on. I had already planned on a garden for next year as well. And I will be doing a LOT more reading. But now the idea of vegetarianism is swimming around in my head. For me, it would be a very significant change. But the seed has been planted, and I’ll continue to give it thought. Many things to think about. Definitely “food for thought”.

I’d love to know if you’ve watched this and what you thought. If anyone is a vegetarian convert after being a semi-big meat-eater? Anyone with links to articles for either side of the argument?

Edited to Add: I also started a discussion thread about this on the Brown Eyed Baker Facebook page, and reader Nikki shared a link to a great resource: http://www.localharvest.org. In a couple of minutes I found a small farm 20 minutes from me that raises organic, grass-fed cattle and another that offers a CSA as well as eggs from free-range chickens. For those of you trying to find resources in your area, this might be a great place to start.

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69 Responses to “Food, Inc. I watched it. My thoughts.”

  1. Kat on December 7, 2010 at 12:42 am

    Wait a minute…do you abhor hunting or do you abhor the stereotyped image of what hunting really is?
    Think about which animal had a healthier and more natural life. Think about which animal’s liver is actually safe to eat. Which animal’s excrement doesn’t adversely impact waterways and wells. Which animal had a clean and fast end?
    What is their to abhor?
    Seriously!
    Also, how much less likely am I, as a cook, to waste that meat?
    I really cannot see where your issue is?
    Besides what we hunt, we buy one lamb and half a side of a locally raised, locally slaughtered 4-H raised meat every other year. I don’t like mystery meat from the store…that’s what I abhor!

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 7th, 2010 at 12:57 am

      Hi Kat, I think maybe I didn’t make my feeling on hunting clear. Note I said I hate the “sport” of hunting. The idea of going out to try to kill a bigger animal than your buddy, to mount antlers, etc. Hunting in the manner you describe it I have no problem with, at all. I put that into the category of self-sustainability. Maybe it’s the area in which I live, but many (if not most) around here treat hunting as a sport, and not as a means to a better way of harvesting food. And I totally agree with you about the mystery meat!

      Reply

  2. Trudy on December 7, 2010 at 6:21 am

    No, hunting for sport is not good, in my opinion too. Hunting for food is another matter but it is rare that people do that in this country anymore, usually it’s just for the “fun” of it. Here in Okieland land there is a food co-op, along with other local food organizations and many farmers markets. I belong to the Oklahoma Food Co-Op and get all my meats through them; meat that is raised either organically or semi-organically, free range animals fed on grass for cattle but I buy chickens and pork too and occasionally a turkey. The food actually tastes better and I love eggs that are fresh and haven’t been stored away for a while. You might check and see if there is anything like those organizations in your area. Maybe Google local food organizations?

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 7th, 2010 at 11:56 am

      Hi Trudy, Thanks so much for the tips, I will definitely look into local food co-ops. And I totally agree about the taste. When we have bought hamburger patties from the local farm 10 minutes, it is absolutely amazing how much better they taste. I was blown away the first time.

      Reply

  3. Tania on December 7, 2010 at 9:25 am

    I watched the movie a couple of months ago and was VERY disturbed by what I saw, but not even close to disturbed enough to consider being a vegetarian. It is my personal opinion that humans eating meat is part of the circle of life, if you will. Humans have been hunting as well as growing food since the very beginning of recorded history. What many fail recognize when discussing these topics is that there are plenty of other creatures out there that would not hesitate to make you or I their own tasty snack. I just think it’s the natural order of things. With that being said, what I have learned from seeing the movie (and other media as well) is that I have been a part of this huge over-consumption ring and I am taking steps to get out of it. There is no local butcher where I live, but when I am near one I will purchase meat exclusively there. I have resolved to NEVER purchase frozen meat (especially chicken) and I buy as much local produce as I can. We do a little mini garden every summer too which is sooo rewarding.
    One last thing, I think you can make some positive changes in your consumption without becoming a vegetarian. Food Inc., while damning and informative, is only one glimpse into the subject and we do have a choice in what we purchase and where. Sorry this is so long!

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 7th, 2010 at 12:03 pm

      Hi Tania, No apologies! I appreciate your thoughts. I feel that I’ll probably end up where are you in the spectrum. I have always been on the side that we are “meant” to eat meat, from an evolutionary standpoint. I’ve been reading a lot about it, but have found the same number of arguments/studies/research from both sides of the fence (humans are, by nature, meat-eaters vs. plant-eaters). It’s definitely interesting (and informative) to learn more about the topic, from all perspectives.

      Reply

  4. Darby O'Shea on December 7, 2010 at 9:42 am

    If I may suggest further reading: Even though it’s fictional, Ruth Ozeki’s All Over Creation is fantastic. It gives you a really good introduction to the problems with genetically engineered foods and is fun to read since all that good information is set against a great story. Her book My Year of Meats is also great, but I’ll warn you it put me off meat for three years – even though I LOVE meat.

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 7th, 2010 at 12:04 pm

      Thanks so much for the reading recommendations Darby, I will check them out! Much appreciated!

      Reply

  5. Martha on December 7, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    I saw this film at an Independent Film Festival about a year ago. I’m glad to see it finally made it to mainstream outlets… it was on cable a few weeks ago. It should be “required” viewing for all foodies (especially) as well as everyone else. What shocked me the most was how much the food industry controls what we eat and the government agencies that are supposed to protect our interests! They promote the foods that are most profitable for them to produce not the food that is best for us to eat. And they jack up the prices by squashing any competition and any small producers that set higher standards and/or are not part of the conglomerate group (aka good ole boys who cooperate).
    To anyone who hasn’t seen this movie….. don’t worry, it’s not one of those gory livestock-being-slaughtered movies. It’s as much about crushing the little farmer who won’t buy and grow their genetically altered (and patented) soy beans! It’s about how there are really only a handful of BIG companies selling all the varied brands we see in the supermarket. (and therefore controlling what we eat!) Everyone really should see this movie.
    As far as the hunting issue, if you kill an animal, you have to be willing to eat it and make use of all of it, not just the prime parts. I know hunters that kill a deer and take the tenderloin, leaving the rest to rot! That’s just wrong! And if you’re not willing to eat a squirrel, than don’t shoot one. (they actually make a great stew!) I think plants and animals were put on this earth to eat and it’s all part of the life cycle. I’m just sayin’………………………

    Reply

  6. Tracy on December 7, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    We were pretty disturbed after watching this too! We watched it right before the summer started, and immediately made several changes in our diets. We joined an organic CSA and got fresh local veggies all summer and into the fall. I had started canning/preserving at the beginning of the year for fun, and stepped into high gear over the summer to preserve some fresh fruits and veggies for the winter months. We started buying organic milk too, not long after we found out more about the process of milking cows. I’ve been buying organic meat whenever possible until we can get a standalone freezer so that we can go in on a big organic meat order with some friends from a local farm. I really believe that they said it best in the movie – we vote with our money, and if we don’t buy all those things that are awful for us, they’ll be forced to change or go out of business. And now I’ll get off my soap box. ;-)

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 9th, 2010 at 4:58 pm

      Tracy, you’ve definitely been an inspiration to me with your canning efforts. I am hoping to do the same next year!

      Reply

  7. goodnessbaker on December 7, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    “I think plants and animals were put on this earth to eat and it’s all part of the life cycle. I’m just sayin’”

    We are also animals, were we put on this earth to be eaten? Somehow we managed to develop our brains and evolve to the point where we could capture and then later “grow” our meat in factory farms. We have also developed to the point where we don’t need to kill other creatures to be nourished. We grow animals and kill them to eat because we lack self-control. We eat animals because they taste good. Thank goodness, no one has eaten a human baby and called it tasty so all of the “foodies” can farm it.

    Every creature is on this earth to survive. That is the simple truth. Not one wants to be eaten or believes that is its reason to be. And just because we can do it doesn’t make it right.

    There is nothing wrong with appreciating and respecting the lives of other creatures. I have only felt truly human by realizing the hypocrisy of hugging my dog and eating a cow.

    Reply

    • Liddy on December 8th, 2010 at 9:59 am

      A huge point of dissension lies in your statement, “We are also animals, were we put on this earth to be eaten? Somehow we managed to develop our brains and evolve to the point where we could capture and then later “grow” our meat in factory farms.” There are many of us who hold to the Genesis account that we (humans) were created separately from, and to rule over, the animals, and that we were created in the image of God. There are also many who hold to the belief that we were created with our brains “developed,” rather than believing that our brains have somehow “evolved.” And there are those who hold to the Biblical belief that God provides meat for man to eat.

      Of course, none of the above should be looked upon as an excuse for abuse or inhumane treatment of animals, and, of the many meat-eaters I know, none would view it as such. My point is simply that the belief that eating meat is both permissable and something to be enjoyed does not equate with anything that’s morally wrong.

      Reply

      • goodnessbaker on December 8th, 2010 at 4:16 pm

        Liddy, You seem like an intelligent and good person so I respect your opinion. There are also many of us who support the scientific evidence of evolution (but that is beside the point of this thread).

        There are many religions where the eating of meat is considered immoral. And according to Genesis is was considered immoral in eden and revised when there was limited food available after the flood. There are many things the bible condones that I’m sure can be interpreted in many ways (slavery, child abuse, polygamy).

        I believe the killing of animals period is inherently cruel and inhumane. And having “dominion” over animals is our opportunity to protect them with the same respect in which we treat our fellow man.

        Reply

  8. Whitney on December 7, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    I totally agree! I also watched the movie awhile back when it was on PBS and was completely horrified. Being in NC, a pork and chicken state, the movie was followed by a locally produced show to discuss all of the issues. Really, a (seemingly loaded) panel of meat producers and trade associations tried to refute all of the movie’s claims, and that only convinced me more how corrupt the system is. I’m trying to eat more responsibly too, and I’ve realized that organic and responsibly grown food actually tastes better when it’s not bloated with chemicals and steroids. But like Tracy said, we vote with our money. And money and education about the industry’s practices are roots of the problem. Just think, our diet is the only one in the world that actually makes us sicker. Food for thought … literally.

    Reply

  9. Erica on December 7, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    I intentionally avoided watching Food, Inc. after a few months of questioning our food industry. My questions started when I read “In Defense of Food.” My background – I love burgers. I love a perfectly seasoned steak cooked Medium-Rare. I love potroast on a cold day. And, bacon. I mean, really, who doesn’t love bacon?

    Since watching Food, Inc. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve eaten meat. I officially made the switch in July 2010 to a vegetarian. I do still eat eggs and cheese, but I am very selective about what company or farm they are from. I don’t know that I’m a vegetarian forever, but I do know that I have no desire to eat what comes out of these unregulated factories. I question how many of our country’s health problems stem from what happens to “food”, or should I say product, before we eat it?

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 9th, 2010 at 5:02 pm

      Erica, I can totally related to you! I have somewhat avoided the topic as well because I love meat. Not chicken so much, but give me a great burger or steak! But I’m glad that I saw it. It truly opened my eyes. While I probably won’t cut meat out entirely, I will cut waayy back on the amount I eat and only buy local grass-feed when I do.

      Reply

  10. Jackie on December 7, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Great movie and very important topic. I am, as many, moving toward local food and humane farming. I am very lucky to have lots of great local outlets for food. I also recommend the Food Matters movie as well as the Beautiful Truth (which among other things shows how well we can thrive on natural foods as well as how the mass market foods are damaging). Jillian Michael’s book Master Your Metabolism has really good info on how certain foods effect us, so it’s a good resouce beyond just a fitness book. Happy reading and kudos to all those who are moving toward self sustainability!

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 9th, 2010 at 5:03 pm

      Thank you for the movie and book recommendations Jackie!

      Reply

  11. Kita on December 7, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    I haven’t seen the movie, but I am adding it the list to rent as I type. I have had an interest in buying more local and fresh, but it seems that (at least in my case) there is a huge premium for that in my area (I literally work right next door to a co-op and I can not afford to shop there at all). Is there a way to find local butchers (resources) without having to pay a lot more? I would love to switch how we eat and what my family eats, but honestly, I don’t even know where to start.

    Reply

    • Niki on December 7th, 2010 at 6:13 pm

      I found this to be a great resource!

      http://www.eatwild.com/

      Reply

      • Kita on December 8th, 2010 at 8:11 am

        I am shocked to find that there is a void of local butchers in my area. :( Im super sad and actual sent out an email asking if maybe it was wrong.

        Reply

    • Monica on December 11th, 2010 at 10:00 pm

      I agree with you, Kita. I would like to buy more organic meat and produce but it is simply too expensive. It’s sad that good quality food is out of reach for so many families. I have bookmarked the websites below and I will have to check them out later. Thanks for bringing this up.

      Reply

  12. Niki on December 7, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    I’m totally with you on this one! After reading ‘Fast Food Nation’ and seeing ‘Food, Inc.’ I began a major overhaul in my lifestyle. I now stay away from processed foods and chemical laden bath/body products and have converted to natural/organic/local everything. I too love a good bacon cheeseburger and don’t know that I could ever become a vegetarian. But I have come to realize that those kinds of foods can easily be made at home with healthier (and safer!) ingredients. I think it’s good to inform people with the truth and let them decide how/what they want to eat.

    Here is a link to an article that I originally read on msnbc.com regarding the cheese industry (no longer available there but found elsewhere):

    http://www.witn.com/news/headlines/USDA_Sells_Cheese_While_Warning_Wgainst_Eating_It__106844664.html

    Reply

    • Kita on December 7th, 2010 at 7:20 pm

      Thanks, Im reading the link you left in your reply and the article as well :)

      Reply

    • Michelle on December 9th, 2010 at 5:05 pm

      Thank you for the article Niki, I am going to check it out!

      Reply

  13. Tricia on December 7, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    I saw this film, but, as with ALL media, you have to take it with a grain of salt. We can’t take their word for what they perceive without doing our own research. That is true of all media outlets.

    I grew up on a farm. Animals were always a source for food in one way or another, either via by-products (example: milk, eggs) or by slaughter (example: our Sunday dinner chicken), or by being a help to gather it (example: hunting dog).

    Hunting for food becomes a sort of sport by its very nature. But, that doesn’t mean that hunting for sport, alone is done much. They may make sport of it, but the meat is still consumed, the hide is still used, and there’s nothing wrong with mounting the antlers! I don’t know any hunters who hunt for sport who kill the animal, then leave it; they still use most of the animal and leave what isn’t usable to the birds to feast on.

    We should all do our own research and take no media word for Truth, buy and eat responsibly and take ownership of our own decisions. Personally, I will never be a vegetarian. God gave us richly all things to enjoy, according to His Word, and enjoy I will, but I will do it responsibly. Some of us always have.

    Tricia

    Reply

  14. Katie on December 7, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    I watched this film the end of last year I believe. I am currently in college studying to become a registered dietitian. I was horrified by the portion of the film about animal slaughter and I too thought that I would be interested in going vegetarian, but somehow the horror wore off and I still am consuming meat. I think I became more worried about ground meet than anything. Who knows how many different cows and cow parts ended up in that? I do wish locally produced meat, that was grass fed, was cheaper and easier to find. As a college student, spending anymore on groceries than I do now isn’t really an option.
    To your comment about hunting, it does do more good than most people think. Hunting deer, for example, has saved many human lives. It helps cut down on the number of traffic accidents that are caused by deer running into the road. I don’t believe that it is the most humane option, but it does have some benefits besides mounting antlers on a wall.

    Katie

    Reply

    • Meg on December 11th, 2010 at 3:58 pm

      Cutting out meat is a cheap option! I too am a college student pinching pennies. If I can’t find humanely raised meat, I don’t buy any. Tofu, beans, quinoa, and tempeh are all good sources of protein that are cheap! Americans eat more protein than they need to, so when they think of becoming vegetarian, they can’t imagine how they will eat “enough” protein.

      I don’t understand why hunting is considered inhumane. What is the difference between hunting and factory farming? At least the deer (or other animals) being hunted have a chance. Slaughter houses are a death sentence, not to mention the unhealthy lives leading up to them. Also, how many deer are killed during hunting season versus how many cows are killed daily?

      Just some things I hope stir up thoughts for you!

      Reply

  15. Heather on December 7, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    I watched this a few months ago with my oldest DD (11yrs old), and it REALLY cemented some thoughts I was already tossing around in my head… I try to shop locally, and buy local ingredients. I went several months with virtually all of our produce being whatever I could find at our local farmers market. I’m SUPER lucky, in that I live in Southern Cali, and have a great selection of local, in season, fresh produce available year round.

    That said, while I really like the *idea* of vegetarianism, in practice it’s just not something I’ve found that I can sustain. I like meat. I just do. And so do my kids. And especially my husband. But, I do make a huge effort to eat sustainably. To eat responsibly. To shop consciously. We have cut out almost all processed foods, and we cook from scratch for almost all of our meals.

    It was great, imo, to have my kid watch this with me, and really get an understanding of WHERE her food comes from, and why mom’s not just crazy, but thinking about things instead of shopping mindlessly.

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 9th, 2010 at 5:08 pm

      Heather, I think it’s great that you watched this with your daughter! A great way for her to start to understand why you make decisions you do and how what she eats can affect her.

      Reply

  16. Kristin on December 8, 2010 at 9:22 am

    I find it really interesting that you are bringing this up at this time since my sister has just decided to go full on vegetarian for her family after having cut meat back significantly over the past couple years. She has watched this and read lots of books on how amazing whole and natural foods are for our bodies and has also eliminated all processed foods from their diet. I’m also on the fence about going completely vegetarian. I’m ok with cutting meat back, but I do love a good burger every now and then. I think if I were to buy organic, local meat/poultry, it would be ok to have a few times a week. I am really interested in learning some hearty vegetarian dishes for the other nights, though. Married to a carnivore who also loves cheese like it’s going out of style, we could never go vegan (plus, the baker in me would die). :) I’ve added some whole grain baking books to my wish list this year and would love to make my baking a bit healthier with the occasional total indulgence. I already only use organic raw granulated sugar for baking, and incorporate a mix of all-purpose with whole wheat pastry flour in some things. Primarily, I’m interested in getting lots more fresh veggies and fruits in our diet and there is a local farm that does CSA-type boxes weekly that I’m considering. I look forward to seeing any new hybrid recipes you create/find as you decide how to go from here. Good luck! I’m sure there are many of us on the same journey.

    Reply

  17. Sandi on December 8, 2010 at 9:36 am

    I haven’t seen the movie, but want to. My husband works in an industry in which he was able to go through slaughterhouses and watch the whole process. He told me that I would probably never eat meat again if I saw how it’s done. He’s a big meat eater and things like that don’t bother him.

    That being said, I tried being a vegetarian in my twenties and it didn’t work out. I was very unhealthy. I need the protein from meat and have come to the conclusion (as someone else said) that’s it’s the circle of life. We are meant to eat meat, just meat in a state as natural as possible. Not raw, :-) just w/out all the hormones and antibiotics and such. I try to buy clean food, things that spoil (not all the preservatives). I think this really came to a head when I saw my 8 yr old daughter starting to develop. I cut out and switched several things, had her exercise more and it made a huge difference. A friend’s daughter was also starting to mature at age 7. Dietary changes also slowed her down.

    I have to say too, that even though sweets aren’t the best thing because of all the sugar that I love sites like yours because I can get a recipe and make it completely w/all the ingredients that I find are the best. It’s like I tell my friends, yes, I feed my kids chocolate chip cookies, but I make them. I know exactly what ingredients are in them and I choose the best of that ingredient. Have you read the label on a box of cookies from the store? Yikes!

    Anyhoo, just my 2 cents. Love your site!

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 9th, 2010 at 5:11 pm

      Hi Sandi, I completely agree with you about baking from scratch. Yes, I enjoy sweets and desserts, but I take great comfort in knowing exactly what is in almost every single thing I eat. I try to limit any processed foods and bake and cook from scratch as much as possible.

      Reply

  18. Susan on December 8, 2010 at 9:36 am

    Several years ago I read the book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” which got me started in thinking about where my food comes from and everything I put into my health. I am not a total health nut and I love processed goodies as much as the next person but I am aware that I am eating processed, manufactured corn enhanced products.

    Two summers ago my son watched Food, Inc and insisted I needed to see it. We watched together and he developed an intense awareness of what goes in his mouth and the foods we buy. I live in WNC and it is full of wonderful opportunities to buy fresh, wholesome local produce. We have an abundance of family farms where I can purchase meat of all sorts that is free of hormones and antibiotics. That has been raised on grass and treated in a humane manner and butchered in a humane manner as well.

    I am not a vegetarian but I choose not to eat meat very often during the week. My son and I stick to meatless meals and when we do buy meat we go to a specialty shop that purchase locally raised, non hormone, non antibiotic meat.

    I do not believe one has to become a vegetarian but to have a greater awareness of where you buy food and what you put into your body and feed your children and family. We need to stop supporting agribusiness and the government that supports them.

    Reply

  19. Helena on December 8, 2010 at 9:39 am

    Hi Michelle,
    I’ve been a vegetarian for about 2 1/2 years (and I want to be a vegan, but my doctor told me that it is too dangerous while I’m still growing). I haven’t seen the movie yet, but similar ones and I’ve just recently read a book that you might find interesting if you want to make a decision about eating meat or not. It’s “Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer, and it really is a great book. Foer writes very objective and not overly emotional as other authors do, and he really gives you all the information you need about animal slaughter and the food industry. I hope it’ll help you.
    For me, vegetarianism is the only way to go, because I just can justify killing another (actually many many other) living beings for a couple minutes of pleasure. How can anyone? But, I also know that not eating meat is not for everyone, and also that locally raised animals, who are fed right and taken care of, are a better option than animals that have been “raised” together with hundreds of thousands of other animals.
    For me, there was just that point when I was so disgusted by meat that I just couldn’t get it into my mouth. You can’t just decide “I want to be a vegetarian now”, but you have to really want it, not decide it. Otherwise you’ll just get frustrated when you crave meat.
    And if you don’t feel like banning meat from your plate all together, you can always choose to eat less meat, or only on the weekend or on special occasions or whatever. Less meat is always better! For your body, your concience and for the environment, but most of all for the animals who don’t have to suffer.
    I hope I could help you decide :)

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 9th, 2010 at 5:14 pm

      Hi Helena, Thank you for the book suggestion, I am going to check it out!

      Reply

  20. Liddy on December 8, 2010 at 9:46 am

    This is a real issue for me, because, while I would LOVE for my family to eat local and organic foods that’ve been grown/raised in healthy environments, we’re unable to do so, for the most part, because of cost. Our family of seven costs a lot to feed, and that’s on regular grocery store terms! Locally/naturally raised meat and organic fruits and vegetables are simply out of our reach in terms of dollar cost. When our family was smaller in size, I belonged to a natural foods co-op and bought a good bit of natural/organic foods and meats (as well as a number of meat substitutes, although we’re not vegetarian) through it, but, as our family grew, the cost became prohibitive. Not only can we no longer afford to buy from the co-op, but I normally can’t afford to buy organic/naturally-raised fruits and vegetables and meats at the grocery store, because their prices are double and triple the prices of the regular fruits/vegetables and meats.

    Unfortunately, I have to simply not read things, such as that book, that will upset me without me having any recourse to do anything concrete about it in relation to my own family’s food consumption. At this point in our lives, my primary objective has to be to feed my family, and that has to be done within a very specific and limited food budget.

    I do wish that we COULD afford to eat naturally-raised meats and organic fruits and vegetables, because that would be our choice, should we have the food budget to be able to do it!

    Reply

  21. Greedy Guts on December 8, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Hi Michelle,

    I am so glad that you started this thread of conversation. This is exactly why movies like “Food Inc.” are made – to get people thinking, talking and, perhaps, even taking a stand against the horrific practices that go on behind the scenes of this huge, ugly industry. I was an avid meat-eater and had been all my life, until I watched Food Inc. The movie disturbed me and upset me enough that I have now almost completely turned vegetarian – something I honestly didn’t think was possible. Now, on the odd occasion that I do buy meat, I make sure that it is organic and comes from a small farm (luckily this is pretty easy to do in Vancouver, Canada).

    Food has become so political and so I’ll probably offend some readers by saying this, but as a consumer you should want to know how your food ended up on your plate. You should care about the treatment of the animals that you are about to devour, if only for the taste. Personally, the idea of eating an animal that has spent its whole life confided in a small, dark, crowded factory makes me sick. If you offered me an animal that has spent their life in the sunshine, eating real food, interacting with other animals and being treated humanely, then yes, I could get on board with eating that animal – in moderation. I find it interesting (and sad) that a lot of Westerners feel like they HAVE to eat meat on a regular basis. It certainly isn’t going to harm you to eat less meat but it will certainly have a huge knock-on affect to the big industries that rely on you not questioning what happens to your meat before it ends up on your plate.

    Am looking forward to reading more comments about this.

    Reply

  22. Ashley on December 8, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    For extra reading, read The Food Revolution, How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World by John Robbins

    http://amzn.com/1573244872

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 9th, 2010 at 5:19 pm

      Thank you Ashley, I will definitely check it out!

      Reply

  23. goodnessbaker on December 8, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    It is wonderful to see such a debate on a light-hearted baking blog :) Thanks Brown-eyed baker for starting this discussion. I often say, “if a chicken could talk would you still want to eat it?” I grew up in a meat-eating family and only became a vegetarian 3 years ago. It was challenging at first but I also became more compassionate towards animals (and other people). I find meat repulsive now. My husband is a meat eater but he is happy to eat a variety of vegetarian dishes at home (I don’t buy or cook meat).

    I’m also making brownies if that counts for anything :) (and checking my local library for all of these book selections).

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 9th, 2010 at 5:20 pm

      You’re welcome! I’ve really enjoyed reading everyone’s responses and thoughts, and am learning a lot in the process!

      Reply

  24. Megan on December 8, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    Hi!
    My Mom actually sent me here to comment on your blog. I’m an actual commercial cattle rancher. That’s right, I’m part of the 2% of our population that actually grows your food. My family has been doing it for 5 generations. Movies like Food Inc are like a double edged sword for us. It’s wonderful that people are starting to want to know more about our food supply! But it really sucks that film makers only use it to push their bias or agenda. I could write a huge missive about what Food Inc got wrong. But I’m sure that many of the people who commented above would in turn, attack me. I’m very active on social media and often try and engage people when they explain how horrible the ag industry is (even when they have never been to a real commercial farm (see the irony?)). I see you are on twitter – I great place to get real facts from real farmers is #agchat.
    There are many farmers and ranchers that are starting to become more vocal about what we do because of the negative imagine movies like Food Inc try to propagate, read their blogs, follow them on twitter, be their friend’s on facebook. You know what you will learn? That ag is not as simple as Hollywood would have you believe. It’s not big v little, bad v good. Please, please, please talk to some real farmers and ranchers before you buy into Food Inc. Is ag perfect? No. But is it as bad as the media tells us? No. Like the rest of the world, ag is ALWAYS changing and evolving, modern ag is not the enemy.
    Feel free to e-mail me questions about what I do. Follow me on twitter, I can definitely introduce you to real farmers and ranchers, they love to “agvocate”!
    I’ve spent my entire life on a commercial cattle ranch, I also have a BS in agriculture from CSU, Chico. Ag is my life. Please talk to us. Thank you.
    http://www.facebook.com/FoodIncStincs
    http://www.twitter.com/MegRaeB
    http://megraeb.wordpress.com/

    Reply

  25. Maria on December 8, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    So happy I am a vegetarian:)

    Reply

  26. Danielle D. on December 8, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    Michelle, this is an issue that started weighing on me heavily during the past year. I was an economics major in college, and in my Social and Ethical Issues in Business and Economics Class, our prof showed us a video with graphic footage of animal slaughterhouses, chicken yards, etc. It was so terrible I finally had to just stare down at my desk — I couldn’t look at it anymore. He was presenting it as a topic for discussion, not automatically presenting it to us as something wrong. As I’ve learned more about it, it has definitely become an ethical issue for me (and like you – I absolutely hate hunting as well). Between this and the fact that nutritionists/doctors/researchers far and away say that you are healthier if you do not eat meat (as long as you make sure to get iron, protein, and amino acids elsewhere), I decided to officially stop eating meat in May of this year. There have also been so many people in my family’s lives with cancer recently, and people frequently try to fix their diet (which frequently includes going vegetarian) when their health situation is already very severe instead of beforehand to try and prevent diseases like cancer. The high fat content in meat (mostly beef) and the carcinogens that you eat when you BBQ meat are both cancer concerns. Switching to being vegetarian is certainly an adjustment, but one that you might find easier than you think. I still eat fish (never farmed), and once in a great while I do eat chicken so I try not to be mega intense about it, but it’s a lifestyle decision that I have been happy about.

    Reply

  27. Lisa on December 9, 2010 at 6:01 am

    We watched this movie also, but we had made some changes to our diet before then, this movie just confirmed that we were on the right track. We have a vegetarian daughter and consequently do eat a lot of vegetarian meals. I also try to buy locally and don’t eat foods out of season.
    But we also eat meat. I only buy free range eggs, I have a lovely vege garden and we buy only free range pork/ham/bacon and beef also. I rarely buy chicken at all now. I am actually pretty happy to be eating this way with meat once a week or so and I’m really enjoying discovering all the other wonderful dishes that can make a meal interesting. It’s expanded my cooking repertoire and encouraged all the family to be a little more adventurous with their eating habits.
    Great movie and plenty to think about in it.

    Reply

  28. Gerri on December 9, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    Michael Pollen actually has a very interesting stand on vegetarianism in his book ‘Omnivore’s Dilemma”. Its one that I agree with and thats saying a lot considering I have been vegetarian for more than half of my life. He states that we are supposed to eat meat, however the way in which we get our meat in this country has ethical, environmental, economic, and health consequences. He also implies that vegetarians are simply taking the easy way out by not eating meat and thinking that they can wash their hands of the whole situation. I think that its much more difficult to eat meat ethically (grass fed free range animals that live on small sustainable farms) than it is to be a vegetarian. If more and more people educate themselves on this issue hopefully our behaviors as a nation will change and the demand for local sustainable and ethically produced food will increase. This in turn would hopefully lead to an increase in local sustainable farms. I will however remain vegetarian. My husband (an omnivore) and I enjoy the many farmers markets in the Boston area and agree that on top of all of the benefits the experience is so much better than going to the grocery store. For New Englanders out there here is a link to a website that lists farms, farmers markets, and resaurants who buy local and sustainable food: http://www.farmfresh.org/

    Reply

    • goodnessbaker on December 10th, 2010 at 7:58 pm

      If you are a vegetarian, I find it strange that you agree that people are supposed to eat meat. A vegetarian diet is more healthy for your body, the economy and the environment. I don’t understand how you can say that vegetarians wash their hands of the situation. Most vegetarians are activists for animal rights, human rights and the environment. They are conscientious people who generally don’t eat meat because they know how it is produced. Many also buy food which is locally produced, organic and fair trade. I would say that vegetarians by the very nature of having to prepare their own food due to limited selections elsewhere are quite in tune with the issues mentioned.

      Reply

  29. BlauerPlanet on December 9, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    It is a disturbing movie, isn’t it…

    I was very much a meat eater. Not only semi-big, but BIG. And I never thought I could turn semi-vegitarian.

    Two years ago I went to a retreat center for six weeks where they only cooked vegan. To my absolute surprise the thought of wanting meat did not enter my mind once. I was craving yogurt and cheese, but not meat. Also, one of the pratices of the retreat was eating mindfully. It changed my relationship to food. I’ve always been a foodie, but I just looked at food as something pleasurable, which it still is fore sure :), but it’s more than that now. I’ve become more aware of how consuming food connects my body to everything else, the farmer, the land, etc. and how my choices of food and what I buy have an influence on the world we live in.

    After the retreat I didn’t really feel the need to eat meat, but it is was too big of a leap for me to declare myself “vegetarian”. Family and friends would serve me meat knowing I loved it. I didn’t want to disappoint them, I didn’t want to enter discussions, I thought I could just go back to “before”. But somehow you cannot “un-know” things. So I didn’t enjoy meat as much anymore, especially if I didn’t know where it came from.

    It’s been a process since then. Reading more, watching more, thinking more, and observing how it made me feel to eat this or that. Right now we eat sustainable fish or humanely raised organic meat maybe once a week or every two weeks. Mostly because my husband likes to have it once in a while. For right now this seems to be the right balance for us.

    And for those who think it’s just for people with a big wallet: We are on a tight budget and aim to eat all organic. It’s a challenge. And some months we have to make ammends by substituting organic nuts or fruits for example with the next best choice. But by going to the farmers’ market, buying produce that’s in season (and freezing things during the peak summer months), watching for the specials at the coop and eating very little fish or meat, we usually make it. Not having the money is too easy an excuse for me. It is a choice. I never thought I would live this way. But it makes me happy. And proud that even though it does not come easy, we still do it.

    Reply

    • Meg on December 11th, 2010 at 4:17 pm

      I have to agree with you on the cost thing. While it may seem expensive, it is the cost of food. Mass-production cuts costs. Animals are strictly fed corn. The minimum space required per animal is allotted. Pesticides are used instead of rich soil.

      I find that local farmers often sell produce for less than local grocery stores!

      Reply

  30. Mia on December 9, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    As someone who at various times has been a vegetarian and a meat eater I can say that the problem is not so much with eating meat, it’s where the meat comes from. If you don’t have a way to purchase locally raised and butchered meat I recommend buying organic, which is the next best thing.

    I would also like to recommend another film – The Future of Food. I will warn you however that this film turned me from being someone who bought both organic and non-organic food into someone who only buys organic/non GMO food. It can be more expensive but after seeing this I’d rather cost save in other areas.

    If you decide to go organic don’t depend on the symbol on the front of the package. Check to see which organization certified it as some are more lax about what constitutes organic than others (USDA is a bit more lax than I like).

    Reply

  31. Lauren on December 9, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    A great cookbook is Almost Meatless by Joy Manning, who has a blog called The Oyster Evangelist. It’s about reducing rather than eliminating the amount of meat in your diet. If one eats less meat overall, one can usually afford to buy better meat – and then it’s less of an issue if the meat costs more.

    Nina Planck’s REAL FOOD is another great book. The fact of the matter is that we as a nation can’t expect eat the traditional American diet, with a giant hunk of meat as the focus of the meal, and also have cheap meat, and also have a clean environment. Basically, meat just isn’t supposed to be as cheap as feedlot, corn-fed, government-subsidized meat has become.

    On the same token: the pork chops from Heilman’s Hog Wash farm, which are available at Farmers @ Firehouse in the Strip during the farmer’s market season, are life-changing pork chops. It really showed me how much healthier AND more delicious carefully-raised, small-batch livestock can be.

    Reply

  32. Brie on December 10, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    being an organic food blogger, i could go on and on… however, i’m so glad you were able to see the film and understand the complexities between the corporations and government entities and why changing American’s food habits is an uphill battle. sometimes buying local is more important than buying shipped organic foods, because often local farmers use organic practices and either choose not to pay for the organic government label or simply cannot afford it; thus, you’ll still get GMO free food and be supporting the local economy, just without an official seal. i think your sudden thoughts on vegetarianism is most interesting. the movie brought to light the foul animal practices to demonstrate their brutality and waste, with the understanding that large scale organic practices are possible – though difficult mostly due to lies people have been told and how that has shaped our failing food system. i think your change to buying clean, sustainable meat from a local butcher is better than going vegetarian because you’ll be supporting a healthy, local practice and nurturing your body with quality food. to me that’s a stronger vote in the right direction. best of luck with your researching and changing food practices! :)

    Reply

  33. Iina on December 11, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    I haven’t yet watched the film, but definitely will. Every now and then I’ve considered turning vegetarian, but never actually done it – don’t quite know why. Jamie Oliver wrote interestingly about this topic in “Jamie’s Italy”, it really opened my eyes. As for the debate about hunting: my granddad used to hunt hares. It was a hobby of his to go hunting with his dog, but I definitely wouldn’t call it “sports-hunting” (which I also abhor). There are so much hares in the forests of Finland, (that’s where I live) that the hares actually have to be hunted, because they would spread an incredible amount of diseases and infections if their population wouldn’t be limited at all. Anyway, I used to not eat the foods my gradma made of them, because I thought the rabbits were cute, and couldn’t bear the idea of eating them. Eventually I realised that it really makes no sense to eat the meat packed in a nice plastic box, so that it’s easy to totally forget where the meat actually comes from, but think it’s too brutal to kill the rabbit running wild in the forest. Even though I haven’t seen the film food.inc, I guess that the rabbit has had a better life and more “human” ending to it, than most of the cattle that end up being sold as ready meatballs in the grocery store.

    Reply

  34. Iina on December 11, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    And by the way, thanks for the great blog – have tried several recipes – all have been a great success! :)

    Reply

  35. Meg on December 11, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Since this discussion has mostly focused on meat, I would like to bring up EGGS!

    When I first met my boyfriend, I was explaining to him why I thought it was strange how the grocery store could sell eggs so cheaply. I had chickens growing up, and while they’re not expensive, they certainly aren’t worth $0.99/dozen eggs. My boyfriend starting asking more and more about my chickens. I explained to him how the yolks were this beautiful rich orange and the shells had brown spots freckled on them. Then I realized the eggs from the grocery store had yellow yolks. The shells were perfect. These eggs didn’t come from regular hens.

    I started doing research and learned that grocery chains get their eggs from farms which use indoor facilities. They feed their hens corn. Organically fed cage-free hens are also raised indoors and fed organic corn.

    Please try a dozen of eggs from a local farm where chickens are raised outdoors. You will see a difference.

    Reply

  36. Amy on December 11, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Michelle-
    I watched this movie right around the time you got me to try baking my own bread. Once I saw this movie my family and I made a decision to make more informed, and I think, healthy choices when it comes to our food. We joined our local organic food co-op which was a bit of a disaster. We went to pick up our box each week and composted more dandelion greens, and other things that we just weren’t ready for. But we embraced our local farmer’s market and I embraced my inner baker! My kids hate store bought bread now because I have to bake 2-3 loaves a week now and we buy organic when it is economical and feasible. I am still struggling with meat and where to get it from but we have switched to farm fresh eggs and there is definitely a difference! If you want another book to really get you thinking about this topic pick up: Skinny Bitch: A no nonsense, tough-love guide for savvy girls who want to stop eating crap and start looking fabulous by Rory Freedman. It really makes you think!
    With all that being said I still struggle at times to provide my family with healthy, safe meals. Our society has made it so difficult to eat this way all the time. I still cave to the occasional McDonald’s stop when we are short on time. Grocery shopping now takes forever because I am always checking product labels. I wish there was an easy answer but there isn’t!

    Reply

  37. Boulder Locavore on December 12, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    Where to even start on this topic! First off I’ve seen the movie twice and now own a copy. I was a ‘local eater’ before seeing it in that we had a farm CSA and thought about the meat we ate. This movie put me into overdrive. I went into it fearful it would have gratuitous slaughter house scenes but emerged concerned and distrubed about far more of the socio-economic and political issues (e.g. the minimum wage family with diabetes who cannot affort a head of lettuce so subsists on Fast Food dollar menus, the seed cleaner/Monsanto story). I was very disturbed about the CAFO’s (which we have where I live; Colorado) and the keeping of the chickens. Though for those who have not seen it there are not gorey scenes just the humanity of it and the realization of what goes into CAFO farmed meat is disturbing.

    I emerged feeling everyone who eats in this country should see this film. Not necessarily to change their diets as you mention but to be informed about where their food is from. This very much kicked off for me the experiment to see if I could eat year round (produce and meat) in Colorado. I know know all the sources of my meat and very often know the meat personally before it’s harvested or at least the farmers personally. I rarely veer from local produce at any time of the year. I’ve begun to can and freeze organic produce at the height of its freshness, we have winter CSA’s too and store food in a make shift root cellar under some stairs (along with wine and Christmas ornaments).

    We as a society really have stepped away from our food in terms of scrutinzing its origins and quality. A decade ago we were not getting food shipped from all over the world able to get anything at any time of year were we willing to pay for it. The mass increase of food recalls is very frightening to me. Though I suppose it could happen with smaller farms, I do feel safer getting my food from them. Not to forget the great sense of community it builds.

    Lastly I will say I went to an event at a local farm this fall where Joel Salatin was speaking (Polyface Farm biodynamic zealot farmer featured in the movie and M. Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma). I have a photo with him too. I have never been more excited to meet someone!

    Thanks for getting a dialog going about this. I think people assume what the movie will be about and shy away from it. It really is a MUST SEE! Also another good one is Fresh. It delves into what people are doing to address some of the concerns.

    Reply

  38. Dan Morehead on December 13, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    Thought you might enjoy this talk from Mark Bittman:

    http://www.ted.com/talks/mark_bittman_on_what_s_wrong_with_what_we_eat.html

    Reply

  39. Rachel on December 13, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    I have yet to see Food, Inc., but after spending a lot of years as a vegetarian and then eating meat again after being convinced that not doing so was hurting my running and my health, I read Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals and that was it for me and any/all animal products. I don’t have huge thoughts on what I am “meant” to eat, but for me, not wanting to use animals is enough for me. JSF makes a very good point about not eating our dogs while in other parts of the world it’s completely acceptable. I find vegan to be such a charged word and people associate it with a lot of militant righteousness, but I don’t pass any judgment on anyone else’s choices in any aspect of my life. Like religion, it’s deeply personal to me. I think reading Eating Animals after reading Ishmael opened my eyes to the state of our planet and what we do and have been doing to it. My perspective shifted in all areas of my life. I decided I wasn’t partaking in anything that wasn’t good for me and mine with mine being everyone I share this life with.

    Reply

  40. Laura on December 13, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    I watched part of it a few months ago and it really did change the way I look at my food. We really strive to eat locally grown food when possible. Not to mention it tastes 10000 times better.

    Reply

  41. Amy on December 14, 2010 at 9:46 am

    First of all…I just love your blog! I practically visit everyday. You have awesome recipes and take beautiful pictures. We have a lot in common. I also watched Food Inc.(a good year or more ago) and my head was spinning afterwards and continues to spin. I agree that now knowing what I’ve read I will never look at our food the same. Start local is a good start. With a family of five that can be challenging with the cost. I do what I can and pick and choose for now. I have decreased the amount of meat intake back 2 years ago. I’m also in a long process of reading Ominvores Dilemma. I say long process because books like Eat Pray Love interfered and took me yet on another journey. You inspire me to create my own blog and hope to make that happen this coming year. Thank you for being you!

    Reply

  42. Ivy on December 14, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    I’ve watched this in my Foods and Nurtition class. I was also amazed on how corn were basically everywhere in our food. Last year I decided to do a research paper on animal cruelty. Thankfully, I found a great book and a great source of huge information. If you have time you should read “Thanking the Monkey: Rethinking the way we treat animals” by Karen Dawn. It hit me really hard on how people raised and slaughtered the farm animals. It was really heartbreaking and I was disgusted on how the workers can treat animals with such cruelty. After doing the research paper, I decided to try to go vegetarian. I have to admit, its extremely difficult to do. Then, I decided to be a Flexitarian, meaning you just eat meat occasionally and there can be many reasons; such as to get enough protein in your diet, health reasons, or how the animal was raised. This is way easier for me, but I still feel guilty of eating any type of meat. However, I’ve been eating almost everything that’s organic, thanks to my mother. She’s the one who started the whole organic diet, and I regret making fun of her for starting the diet haha ;] But She’s made me realize how important it is to eat healthy. I must admit, from eating organic and working out every week, I haven’t gotten sick in a really long time. I admire you from feeling the way I felt while watching Food Inc., and thank you so much for sharing your thoughts :]

    Reply

  43. madge @ vegetariancasserolequeen on December 17, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    Hi Michelle!

    I’ve been a vegetarian for over 7 years. I used to hate vegetables. All but the starchy ones, anyway! And I never thought I’d make it since my food choices were so small. But after watching some hidden camera footage at a slaughterhouse, I decided I would not contribute to such cruelty. So quit…cold turkey! Ha ha. Anyway, I’ve learned to expand my palate and tested all sorts of vegeterian meat substitutes and I even make a pretty mean vegetarian bacon cheeseburger!

    If you decide to come over to the…er…dark…no…light side…and you need some advice, please feel free to contact me. I’ve got some great faux meat products I can send you, as well.

    Good luck!

    Reply

  44. Andrea on January 12, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    I gret up on a beef cattle farm, so vegan is not an option. I’ve always been discerning about the meat products I consume as a TASTE preference (when you grow up eating farm raised beef, nothing you buy at the store even compares in the taste). Now that I am a highly educated consumer (I studied agriculture for five years in college, and continue to educate myself about food and our food system), my meat choices are a product of both my taste preferences and my preference to be a responsible consumer. There are TONS of sources of locall produced food (even meats) available that raise and process animals humanely. YOu just have to know where to look! Let me know, I can help!

    Reply

  45. Tanya on February 17, 2011 at 5:55 am

    We have all watched it here and pass it on to as many people as possible. A lot of the comments have centred on meat eating and vegetarianism which to me is only one aspect of what they were trying to say on food inc. As importantly is the ruination that intensive farming has rort on the agrarian systems. Another is the danger of allowing food production to be in the hands of a few. Another is the warning about scientific tampering and engineering of food. All of these aspects are equally important. I would like to see people being a lot more conscious of their food descions and a return to old methods. Just yesterday I was having a debate with someone who suggested that GM food was vital for feeding the expanded needs of a growing society, however I suggest we would be better to GM ourselves to stop breeding or dare I go so far to be totally politically controversial by saying that we need to stop enabling people to have children. There is a natural reason why some cannot breed and some people have disease or age and die. I suggest we are tampering with human biology every bit as much as we are engineering our food and we don’t know where the line is. Our species is fast outstriping resources and we are trying to fix the symptoms instead of finding the cure.

    Reply

  46. Amy on May 18, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    I switched to being a flexitarian in July 2010 about a year after I originally saw the movie. I eat meat maybe once a month, and still eat local eggs & cheese. I don’t really miss it at all–it’s provided so many opportunities to discover so many new grains and produce. Using http://www.producebox.com has also helped incredibly as well as of course trips to the farmer’s market! Read “Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer next :)

    Reply

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