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NOW on PBS: Food, Inc. Behind the food we love—Secrets that giant food companies don’t want you to know.

During the week of 3.5.10, PBS’s television program, NOW, recently aired an episode focusing on the new documentary film, FOOD INC (which features Michael Pollan, author of this year’s Go Big Read book selection).

In this episode, David Brancaccio talks with Robert Kenner, director of the Oscar-nominated documentary, FOOD INC, which takes a hard look at the secretive and surprising journey food takes on the way from processing plants to our dinner tables. The two discuss why contemporary food processing secrets are so closely guarded, their impact on our health, and another surprising fact: how consumers are actually empowered to make a difference.

During the interview, the documentary was compared to a horror film. Kenner voiced his opinion that foods look the same as they always have, and people think they have always been produced on small picturesque family farms they way they used to be, but food production has changed. For example, chickens are being bred to produce large breasts for commercial foods like Chicken McNuggets. Tomatoes and potatoes look the same but are nutritionally different than their counterparts in the past.
Kenner goes on to relate the nation’s healthcare problems to the nutritional imbalances in our food. He points out that the government-subsidized corn products have become an invisible ingredient in many of our foods without most of us even realizing it.

Brancaccio questioned Kenner about the cost of fresh produce and other healthy foods in the midst of such a widespread recession. Kenner acknowledged that fast food is quick, readily available, and many people are unaware of the damage those foods do to our bodies. However, what they don’t realize is that the cheapness of these foods is costing them much more in medical bills because of the affects these processed foods can have on the human body. Kenner argues that the major food corporations are creating food that makes lower income people sick because the government is subsidizing unhealthy foods to make them cheaper and therefore more appealing to the nation’s poor.

Kenner also argues that choosing between healthy vs. industrially produced foods is not merely an issue of personal responsibility. He says that the personal responsibility argument is an insidious argument because these corporations are designing food to make it attractive and hiding what it really is. Many people are not even aware of what it actually does to their bodies.

The documentary mentioned the work of one mother of a young boy who died from eating infected hamburger meat. She has been working for eight years to get Kevin’s Law passed, which says that federal government has the right to recall meat with levels of E. Coli and Salmonella that could make us sick. Currently, companies must conduct such recalls themselves. In FOOD INC, a connection is made between how the cows are raised and fed and how these bacteria are getting into our food.

Kenner discusses why Wal-Mart was included in FOOD INC as a symbol for major commercial institutions. He said it was chosen because it represented the truth that the consumer can make a difference. These places only want to supply what we are going to buy and if we choose not to buy a certain product or begin demanding a new one, they will want to cater to our purchasing tastes.

As they wound up the segment, the two men discussed the “Veggie-Libel laws,” which prohibits anyone from hurting the profits of food corporations by speaking out against them. Kenner revealed that he spent more on legal fees for FOOD INC than all of his other films combined!

Interestingly, the film set out attempting to start a dialogue with the food industries. However, Perdue, Tyson, and Monsanto among around nearly 40 other corporations would not cooperate because they did not want consumers thinking about where their food comes from or how it is made.

Kenner concluded by asserting that together, “we have to change this unsustainable system.”

For more ideas on how to eat well in your own kitchen, at restaurants, and in the community, visit: pbs.org/now

89 thoughts on “NOW on PBS: Food, Inc. Behind the food we love—Secrets that giant food companies don’t want you to know.

  1. Terrific post! Thanks.
    I saw the documentary Food, INC a while ago and I was deeply moved by the things we are not aware nowadays regarding food. What we eat has a direct impact on our health, our mood, our everyday life. Most people don't even think about what they eat…they just eat as a routine. I recently saw myself, a product which didn't have all the ingredients used to make it in the ingredient list. However, people nowadays don't even look at the ingredients. They don't care what chemicals or how many chemicals that product contains…
    Food, INC is really an eye-opener and I think many people should watch it. I definitely recommend it. A+++

  2. This film is very informative…and true. Unfortunately, the corporations that our feeding our nation seem more concerned with making money than with feeding the population safely. I found this film groundbreaking and the technical production was top-notch for a documentary.

  3. Very interesting documentary, they really don't care what we gonna eat as long as it looks big and tasty enough to make them money, nothing is gonna change if people don't voice it out and protest it.

  4. Great movie, I know it changed the way my family & I eat. Its really scary to think how all these check and balance (FDA) we think are protecting us are actually the ones killing us by allowing this to happen to our food supply.

  5. Hi Jessica, nice post that you have,Food Inc. presents a broader picture of the problem, and if Kenner takes an understandably tough stance on particular politicians and corporations, he's just as quick to praise those who are trying to be responsible–even Wal-Mart, which now carries organic products by belajar bisnis

  6. Food, something very necessary for people around the world. Its function is vital, but other than that, food is the main cause of many diseases. Now, many food industry began to innovate to produce healthy food. Thanks. ~ Makanan Halal

  7. I think we have really let the food manufacturers have it all their own way for far too long. Unfortunately we are all partly to blame for that!

    For too many years we have demanded more and more cheap food. Now the food manufacturers have a strangle hold over the farmers and the consumers alike.

    Organic was a good idea until it got taken over by the wrong sort and just pushed the price up in some form of elitism.

  8. Thanks for the well written and interesting post. We have to be aware of what we eat these days.We have to inspect the ingredients that we are buying from the market because you'll never know if the food will affect your health. let's stay healthy and do some exercise as well to have a healthy balance life!

  9. great blog and so sad to think that we in the richest countries throw away enough food to many and and die from diseases caused by unhealthy eating

  10. I have been amazed recently on how different food can taste from one country to another. I have spent some time in Spain where the pork tastes fantastic, it could hardly be compared with pork bought and eaten in Britain.
    This is purely because the pigs are reared differently. I think that animals bred for food, that are allowed to wander in a field and generally have a better life will always taste much better than factory bred animals.

  11. Interesting post. It scares me to think that prepared/processed food in the market today cannot be as healthy as we think they are. Companies label and market them to be as attractive to consumers are they can that sometimes to the point of deception. Sometimes I just want to grow everything that my family eats. But I don't think we could sustain from that.

  12. I have seen this documentary film, FOOD INC. all I can say is the film was very informative and useful in a way that it gives out necessary information about food nowadays. What we eat everyday is what we are if we eat bad foods then later on we’ll also suffer. This film has a great impact to me and probably be changing the way I eat before.

  13. They just wanna get their profit without considering of the effect of their product. I hope with this movie they will realize that they are in the wrong business

  14. this is very true, These marketplaces only supplies what people are going to buy and if they choose not to buy a certain product or begin demanding a new one, they will want to cater to their purchasing tastes.

  15. these days consumers rely on processed foods which are not health but we are too busy to cook, i hope mothers should start to think about their family's health. processed foods comprised preservatives. anyways, this article is very informative and thanks for posting.

  16. I think we have really let the food manufacturers have it all their own way for far too long. Unfortunately we are all partly to blame for that!

  17. Choosing between healthy and processed foods is not just an issue of personal responsibility, indeed. Food corporations are designing food in such a way that make it attractive to consumers, hence concealing what it really is made of. People tend to buy what the food tastes like from how it looks, and not for what it actually does to the body. I totally agree with Kenner. When it comes to food, it's our own individual responsibility.

  18. Kudos to Robert Kenner for making the documentary, Food Inc. Consumers should be made aware of how foods are actually produced so they make the right choices in buying and eating quality foods.

  19. Australia recently put a freeze on exporting live cattle to countries with sub humane processing. There was a huge backlash from the public after footage of abattoirs in the countries they were exporting to was aired on national television

  20. Since major food corporations are trying to hide their processing methods, we need more documentaries to educate consumers on the food systems.

    After watching a documentary that exposed the appalling living conditions of animals in factory farms and their brutal treatment in slaughterhouses, I've given up eating animal meat for over a decade.

  21. I can also recommend the movie "Earthlings"- narrated by Joaquin Phoenix. When I saw that movie I stopped eating a lot of meat and reduced it to a minimum. Nice article though.

  22. “The documentary mentioned the work of one mother of a young boy who died from eating infected hamburger meat. She has been working for eight years to get Kevin’s Law passed, which says that federal government has the right to recall meat with levels of E. Coli and Salmonella that could make us sick. Currently, companies must conduct such recalls themselves. In FOOD INC, a connection is made between how the cows are raised and fed and how these bacteria are getting into our food.” It’s tragic she lost her son because of eating infected meat. It’s great that she was able to work to make sure that doesn’t happen again and turn the misfortune into something positive. We all want to be able to feel confident that when we’re eating healthy food that it’s not going to make us sick!

  23. Fast food corporations are a mere example of what human beings are capable of. Beside launching products that literaly destroy their costumer's bodies (not caring about people's health whether they know those people or not because I'm sure that even though I don't think they give this food to their children, they must have some relative or friend that consumes the crappy food that they produce and I'm sure they don't react against it) they treat living beings as if they were non feeling creatures or some kind of material.
    The best thing that we can do to rise against this is to think carefuly before we choose our meals and if possible, go vegan for yourself, your friends, animals and the environment.
    I'll leave you a link to this website, Vegan Restaurants NYC which was very helpful for me when I went vegan. I'm not from NY but it was useful for me anyway. I really identify with this post Junk Food Vegan, and you can also find loads of easy and delicious vegan recipes and raw recipes too.
    Anyway, great post, great movie, great author, loats of attitude, loats of guts.

  24. Very good documentary. These guys don't care for our health all they want is money. There should be more such awareness program exposing these food corporation companies. We also need to check ingredients of the foods we buy.

  25. Ok, i think there are no people on this planet unaware of the damage fast food does to our bodies and still millions of us eat from these places. That's really strange. I think it's more of a habit, marketing of the big fast food companies and lobbies. However, if we want to eat normal and healthy food that isn't that hard. There are millions of articles and posts online which explain how we should eat. This article http://goo.gl/uGMo29 is just one of many but it defines best my understanding of healthy eating – lots of veggies, fruits and water. That's my mantra. Hopefully, more people will find similar info and will think twice before getting a double next time .

  26. Great documented. This option tend not to care for our health and wellbeing most they need is actually dollars. There must be far more such attention method subjecting these foodstuff institution businesses. We also have to check out elements on the food we all buy.

  27. It would be great if we knew where the food we eat come from all the time but it's not possible nowdays. Now we just eat and hope it's ok and goverment does its job to regulate the food companies for their methods.

  28. Very interesting documentary, they really don't care what we gonna eat as long as it looks big and tasty enough to make them money, nothing is gonna change if people don't voice it out and protest it.
    by phen375

  29. “The documentary mentioned the work of one mother of a young boy who died from eating infected hamburger meat. She has been working for eight years to get Kevin’s Law passed, which says that federal government has the right to recall meat with levels of E. Coli and Salmonella that could make us sick. Currently, companies must conduct such recalls themselves. In FOOD INC, a connection is made between how the cows are raised and fed and how these bacteria are getting into our food.” It’s tragic she lost her son because of eating infected meat. It’s great that she was able to work to make sure that doesn’t happen again and turn the misfortune into something positive. We all want to be able to feel confident that when we’re eating healthy food that it’s not going to make us sick!

  30. Really nice and understandable documentary. This is true information and yes this is now saving us but killing us. So everyone be aware of this. Thanks for sharing this helpful post.

  31. This is a very informative article, the problem lies with the companies since they package and write different things on the packaging. Processed sugars and chemicals contribute to unhealthiness. Its paramount that we stick to natural foods. Thanks for sharing this great article

  32. This is a very informative article, the problem lies with the companies since they package and write different things on the packaging. Processed sugars and chemicals contribute to unhealthiness. Its paramount that we stick to natural foods. Thanks for sharing this great article

  33. Saw this movie in about 2010 and was literally shockeed about how dishonest people and whole industries can become if it comes to making big money. After all, it's all about monopolization and earning more more more, they just can't get enough.

  34. Capitalism has this one negative point. In the race to earn more and more profits, companies do not differentiate between ethical and unethical practices. In 3rd world countries the practice by all companies including multinational big brand names should be accountable from all aspects. This is especially important for food sector.

  35. This is a very informative article, the problem lies with the companies since they package and write different things on the packaging. Processed sugars and chemicals contribute to unhealthiness. Its paramount that we stick to natural foods. Thanks for sharing this great article

    international comppany with their secret is one of globalization and capitalism, not just in superpower country but in all of world

  36. This is a very informative article, the problem lies with the companies since they package and write different things on the packaging. Processed sugars and chemicals contribute to unhealthiness. Its paramount that we stick to natural foods. Thanks for sharing this great article

  37. We strive to provide the freshest ingredients at our restaurants, and I appreciate the quality banter between all of the users. Our Family refuses to feed our kids anything unnatural like mcdonalds or schools hot meals

  38. its really a better to preserve or cook that much amount of food which we can consume,Instead of wasting.Preserving so many things can increase cause of food inflation which effects everyone

  39. This film really opened my eyes to the terrible ways in which animals are treated and food is prepared. Although I hadn't given much though to what I was eating in the past, I will be reviewing the origin of meal before consuming in the future. I want to remain healthy and believe that the food we eat can have a substantial impact on our overall health and well-being.

  40. Thank you very much sharing the facts about the food that we are daily eating and i found this article very informative.

  41. Thanks for the interesting article written and interesting. We must be aware of what we eat these days.We have to check the ingredients that we buy from the market because you are not going to understand whether food will affect your health. Let us stay healthy and do some exercise as well to have a healthy life balance in our lives

  42. great blog and so sad to think that we in the richest countries throw away enough food to many and and die from diseases caused by unhealthy eating

  43. Such a great documentary. Along with Forks Over Knives, Food Inc. was one of the films that really helped me transition towards a plant based diet! Definitely recommend checking it out!

  44. Thank you very much sharing the facts about knowledge i found this article very informative. I like your web. Nice posting see you again… hopefully it solved as soon possible. good bye

  45. Thanks for the aritcle.It is very interesting and useful.with this article everyone will know how to eat good food.To gain a good health.

  46. Thanks for this admin. Great blog and so sad to think that we in the richest countries throw away enough food to many and and die from diseases caused by unhealthy eating.

  47. Decent article and much obliged. We likewise give the data through the web on the Best Restaurants in Pondicherry which presents with best sustenance. Distinguishing such a decent nourishment in different spots will be a dull one.

  48. Thanks for this admin. Great blog and so sad to think that we in the richest countries throw away enough food to many and and die from diseases caused by unhealthy eating.

  49. Such a great documentary. Along with Forks Over Knives, Food Inc. was one of the films that really helped me transition towards a plant based diet! Definitely recommend checking it out!

  50. I think we have really let the food manufacturers have it all their own way for far too long. Unfortunately we are all partly to blame for that!

  51. “The documentary mentioned the work of one mother of a young boy who died from eating infected hamburger meat. She has been working for eight years to get Kevin’s Law passed, which says that federal government has the right to recall meat with levels of E. Coli and Salmonella that could make us sick. Currently, companies must conduct such recalls themselves. In FOOD INC, a connection is made between how the cows are raised and fed and how these bacteria are getting into our food.” It’s tragic she lost her son because of eating infected meat. It’s great that she was able to work to make sure that doesn’t happen again and turn the misfortune into something positive. We all want to be able to feel confident that when we’re eating healthy food that it’s not going to make us sick!