Food, Inc.

 
Important but disturbing docu about food biz. Teens and up.
  • Review Date: June 17, 2009
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 94 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Despite emphasizing the gloom and doom of our country's dependence on a select group of multi-national corporations that monopolize our food industry, the documentary ultimately has a hopeful message: Pay attention to the food you eat, buy locally grown food, support independent farmers, make more meals as a family, and eat less (much, much less) at fast-food restaurants.

Violence

Disturbing scenes of a crowded chicken house and cattle factory, and even more disturbing scenes of various slaughterhouses that "process" chickens, pigs, and cows into poultry, pork, and beef. In one scene, a more traditional farmer and his workers slit the throats of chickens, but it's quick and not as gruesome as the slaughterhouse segments.

Sex
Not applicable
Language

Nothing too alarming besides "stupid" and "damn."

Consumerism

Several multi-national food corporations are discussed at length: Monsanto, Perdue, Smithfield, Tyson, ConAgra, and BPI in particular, as well as fast-food chains like McDonald's and Burger King and supermarkets like Walmart. 

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this documentary is a hard-hitting exposé on the food industry, especially the elite group of powerful corporations behind most of the food on supermarket counters. Most teens may not be interested, even though the documentary is rated PG and educational. There are a few disturbing scenes, mostly involving over-crowded chicken/pig/cow "factory farms" and slaughterhouses. It's worth noting that none of the featured companies agreed to be interviewed for the film, which does end up making the message seem somewhat one-sided.

What's the story?

In FOOD, INC., filmmaker Robert Kenner essentially combines the themes of Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma and Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation to follow how most of the food in any given supermarket can be traced back to just a couple of crops (corn and soy) and a surprisingly small group of powerful multi-national corporations like Monsanto, Tyson, and Smithfield. With Schlosser and Pollan and a host of other interview subjects weighing in, Kenner shows how the astronomical rise of fast food changed farming, the food industry, and even the global diet -- and not for the better. Since profit, not nutrition, is the bottom line for these corporations, Kenner posits that consumers can make a difference by making more informed food purchases.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

It's a good thing that most theater concession stands don't sell cheeseburgers and chicken fingers, or audiences would want to hurl them -- in either sense -- after seeing this movie. Kenner provides a comprehensive look at how food goes from "seed to supermarket" and how the driving force isn't so much feeding the world but filling the corporate coffers of a select group of controlling companies. Anyone who's read either Pollan's or Schlosser's work (and their influence as producers/consultants is obviously influential) may know a lot of the material, but the vast majority of Americans are in the dark, which seems to be how some in the food industry would prefer it (not that any of the companies agreed to be interviewed for the film).

The movie offers plenty of horror stories: how big companies are keeping farmers down, how animals are treated cruelly so we can have bigger boneless chicken breasts and fast-food dollar menus, and even how the USDA seems to care more about the companies it's supposed to regulate than the population it's supposed to protect. The segments showing the animals can be terrifying, and the one about the working-class family that eats fast food because it's so much cheaper than healthier options is heartbreaking. But surprisingly, the overall message of the documentary is one of hope -- how every dollar we spend on food makes a difference, not just to our immediate families, but to the world.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what the movie is saying about the food industry. Is it unfair for the filmmaker to portray the companies as the villains, the farmers as the victims, and independent farmers and consumer advocates as the heroes?

  •  How does the silence of the companies depicted in the film affect the movie's credibility and impact?

  •  Kids: Does this make you think twice about asking for a Happy Meal? What about junk food in general?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 12, 2009
DVD release date:November 3, 2009
Cast:Eric Schlosser, Michael Pollan
Director:Robert Kenner
Studio:Magnolia Pictures
Genre:Documentary
Topics:Science and nature
Run time:94 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:some thematic material and disturbing images

This review of Food, Inc. was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Educator and Parent of a 14 year old Written byMsKrista February 14, 2011
age 10+
 
What other families should know
Great messages
Parent of a 17 year old Written byThinking July 30, 2009
age 14+
 

Stuff you need to know

Stuff we all need to know.
Teen, 14 years old Written byCWG1 August 8, 2013
age 10+
 

Be prepared to learn the truth

Hey, at least now we know. This movie is PG, but I feel it would be a better PG-13. It is disturbing, but it is very informative.This shows more along the lines of food and how its made, and it some of the results are shocking. Only watch this if you are ready, but if your are squeamish and don't want to know then don't watch this. I would re-rate this PG-13: For Disturbing and Unsettling Content.
What other families should know
Too much violence

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