For most Americans, the ideal meal is fast, cheap, and tasty. Food, Inc. examines the costs of putting value and convenience over nutrition and environmental impact.
Director Robert Kenner explores the subject from all angles, talking to authors, advocates, farmers, and CEOs, like co-producer Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma), Gary Hirschberg (Stonyfield Farms), and Barbara Kowalcyk, who's been lobbying for more rigorous standards since E. coli claimed the life of her two-year-old son.
The filmmaker takes his camera into slaughterhouses and factory farms where chickens grow too fast to walk properly, cows eat feed pumped with toxic chemicals, and illegal immigrants risk life and limb to bring these products to market at an affordable cost. If eco-docs tends to preach to the converted, Kenner presents his findings in such an engaging fashion that Food, Inc. may well reach the very viewers who could benefit from it the most: harried workers who don't have the time or income to read every book and eat non-genetically modified produce every day.
Though he covers some of the same ground as Super Size Me and King Korn, 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. That development may have more to do with economics than empathy, but the consumer still benefits, and every little bit counts.