Movie Review: ‘Food, Inc.’ screening at ICE Theaters gives food education

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You would’ve thought with the slew of people standing throughout the lobby of ICE Chatham Theater at 210 W. 87th Street that free food was being given away before a movie. And it was—Soul Vegetarian East restaurant food samples.

You would’ve thought with the slew of people standing throughout the lobby of ICE Chatham Theaters at 210 W. 87th Street that free food was being given away. And it was—Soul Vegetarian East restaurant food samples.

At 7 p.m., Thursday night, Aug. 20, viewers sat in two sold-out theaters to watch the film, “Food, Inc.” after getting taster portions of goodies like vegetarian lasagna, vegetarian macaroni and vegetarian tamales. A couple of audience members, who instead decided to go to the concession stand, muttered about how they hope they didn’t regret buying popcorn and nachos after watching the film.

Food, Inc.” filmmaker Robert Kenner gives viewers the inside scoop on just what it is that we’re consuming at fast food restaurants, in grocery stores and how the farming industry and food corporations work together. Why are whole chickens so huge, especially in fast food restaurants with suspiciously high amounts of white meat? Why are pork chops meatier? What are herbicide soybeans? Why should we buy organic food and is it safe? Why are most farmers scared to speak out about the top four beef companies Tyson, Cargill, Swift & Co., and National Beef Packing? What is Monsanto? How do these farmers who borrow an average of $500,000 to get and maintain a farm live off of an average annual income of $18,000? And how much trouble did talk show host Oprah Winfrey have to go to in order to win her lawsuit in 2002 for her remark about mad cow disease in April 1996?

These questions are answered and more—from the mouths of farmers, from slaughterhouse scenes and from grocery stores. Interestingly enough, none of the major meat markets would talk to the filmmakers during the time “Food, Inc.” was created.

There are some scenes that are hard to watch, especially the slaughterhouse scenes. One of the more emotional ones for me was seeing chickens killed on a supposedly more humane farm—I cried but I sat through it even though I wanted to leave. Seeing a scene about how hogs are killed (32,000 per day) to make pork products was too shocking to even think of being sad; I was speechless. (To be fair to readers, I should explain that I have been a pescetarian for three years and presently a vegetarian for three years for the moral reasons, so this review is coming from a slightly biased perspective.)

However, “Food, Inc.” doesn’t just point the finger at slaughterhouses and food corporations though, and there are very few graphic scenes of animals being killed. “Food, Inc.” also turns around and points the finger back at the average omnivore consumers who eat about 200 pounds of meat per person, per year. “Food, Inc.” makes grocery shoppers wonder just what is in their food, why is fast food cheaper than vegetables and how are they surviving off of beef from cows who are consuming corn as feed instead of grass, which cows usually eat. It’s also interesting to find out how corn is being used in some of the most unexpected items—batteries, diapers, peanut butter, Coca Cola and jelly.

And when one woman talked about the death of her son due to E. Coli in meat, I heard mumbling from mothers throughout the theater.

For some people, ignorance is bliss, and they’d rather eat meat (and the 70 percent of genetically modified food in which Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed the SB-63 bill). Those consumers will be the ones who avoid this film or they’ll have a hard time watching it. However, the massive amount of people who wanted to see this movie so badly that they were willing to stand until they got fold-out chairs since the theaters were so packed or sit on the steps shows how concerned people are.

Although the film didn’t tell me much that I didn’t already know about the treatment of animals because of my own decisions made years ago, I enjoyed seeing such a thought-provoking, well-researched flick. I also appreciated being surrounded by those who may not have known how minorities and the poor are affected by slaughterhouses, and what people are consuming in these fast food restaurants and grocery stores. The film gave an exorbitant amount of information and left viewers with essential tips on eating and shopping intelligently.

I give this film an easy 5 out of 5 stars. It will be showing for the next seven days at ICE Theaters.

Note: Chicago radio station WVON 1690 and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) partnered with ICE Theaters for this event.

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Copyright 2009 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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