Film: Food, Inc.

Why the USDA can’t shut down bad meat plants, and more food horror on-screen.

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Food, Inc. is the latest in a line of cinematic polemics that includes Super Size Me, King Corn, and The Future of Food. Yet this urgent, graphic film exposes more atrocious things about the food we eat than all of its predecessors combined. Within five minutes of the opening credits, the screen fills with shots of assembly-line workers staple tagging the heads of chicks, close-ups of hens’ legs buckling under the weight of their own breasts, and dying chickens packed into polluted sheds. Then come the acres of cattle ankle deep in manure, sick cows being tortured before slaughter, and engineers proudly displaying pink slabs of ammonia-washed “hamburger meat filler.” Director Robert Kenner isn’t just concerned with the suffering of animals. He also profiles Americans caught in the snare of the food industry, like Barbara Kowalcyk, whose two-and-a-half-year-old son died after eating an E. coli-infected hamburger. She’s spent six years lobbying Congress to empower the usda to shut down meat plants that repeatedly fail microbial testing. (Who knew it couldn’t?)

For the converted, the film’s litany of horrors may feel familiar, and there is an overreliance on voice-overs by Michael Pollan (interviewed here) and Eric Schlosser. Yet Food, Inc. still engenders disbelief: How does Big Food get away with this? Partly because we, the consumers, often reward it with our purchasing power. An incitement to change comes, strangely enough, from a vice president of the American Corn Growers Association, who explains, “People have got to start demanding good, wholesome food from us, and we’ll deliver.”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

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Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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