We are what we eat.

FoodIncLast week I went to see Food, Inc. I cannot recommend it highly enough.  Everyone should see it.  It’s not fun (I *did* laugh out loud a couple times, though.), overall it’s pretty tough viewing.  There were multiple scenes where I actually closed or covered my eyes. The woman next to me cried through a portion of the film.

I think she was crying because of the children dying of E.coli when there are things we could do to lessen the outbreaks; it may have been from the scenes of the mass slaughter of animals.

That’s not why I cried.

I cried because I am one of millions and millions of Americans for whom “normal” foods are no longer safe.  One day when I was 29 years old, in the American Eagle Outfitter in Boulder’s old Crossroads Mall, I doubled over in pain.  It took doctors months to figure out what the problem was.  I couldn’t keep food down and lost over 1o% of my body weight in the first few weeks.

My immune system has gone haywire. Some doctors called it lupus, some sarcoid, some arthritis. I have become allergic to many things, and it all stems from what we’re doing to our food, especially corn. I’m allergic to corn. Many of you and your children and your friends probably are, too, and don’t know it yet. When you see Food, Inc. you’ll understand exactly why.

So I feel bad about the E.coli and the slaughter, but I cried in Food, Inc. for every flavor of Häagen-Dazs ice cream I’ll never get to taste. I cried for every tub of popcorn and Coke I’ll never enjoy, every ear of sweet summer corn I will never again savor. I cried for every time somebody will look at me like I’m being difficult and I’ll stop myself from explaining. I cried out of anger, too: it doesn’t have to be this way for me and millions of other people and no one will be held accountable.  Damn them that I can’t eat that Häagen-Dazs!

There’s good news here, too: check out and support farmers and companies that don’t use the massive conglomerates for their ingredients.  Several are featured in the film. Buy local and organic. Buy companies that refuse to use corn syrup. Some of my favorites are Newman’s Own (love the dark chocolate peanut butter cups I just tried) and Stonyfield Farm (Gary Hirshberg, Stonyfield’s current President and CE-Yo, is great in the film).

One other thing: this trend toward conglomeration and consolidation… four or five big companies owning an industry and absolutely killing it… you know, it’s not foodrenegadefist_150new.  We know the downfall of the robber barons, the downfall of the news industry today… they came from the same pattern and consequences of corporate consolidation.  Political intervention is required here.  No one is going to do this for us.  It’s not a partisan issue, it’s a public health issue.  A movement’s mounting.  You can see some of its members in Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays!

Okay, that was all the politics I’ve got. It’ll be a while until I talk politics again, probably.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Great post, Rebecca. This one hits close to home for me, because I recently had to give up gluten after discovering it was the cause of the joint pain I’ve been suffering from for the last several years. Now I’m continually having to ferret out gluten in the weirdest places….do they have to put it in flavored cream cheese? Corn flakes? Pudding?

    Of course now when I look at a certain food, the longer a list of ingredients is, the more likely I am to just put it back on the shelf. It is appalling to me how over-processed American food has become. I really had no idea until this year.

    On the upside, it’s teaching me to eat better, more nutritious foods, and I buy locally more often. But I sit and wonder about all the people who are suffering with random illnesses and symptoms that can all be solved by changing diet.

    Thanks for getting political on this one – I don’t mind one bit, especially when the issue is this personal.

  2. I read Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food and it really made me rethink my eating habits. I’m a relatively healthy (vegetarian) eater as it is, but I think twice before eating anything with high fructose corn syrup or any manufactured food with more than 5 ingredients.

    I want to see the movie but I’m afraid it will infuriate me. Good thing that Julie and Julia is also out – I think that between these two movies, it gives us some great “food for thought” when making our buying and cooking decisions.

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