Robert Kenner’s Food, Inc. is a convincing call to action, a well-argued op-ed, an act of urgent revelation. Like most documentaries in the era shaped by Michael Moore, it begins with its treatise and conclusions fully formed and fills in the evidence to support them. Unlike too many of its brethren, it also has a dogged thoroughness that makes it uncommonly compelling. It doesn’t just make an argument; it justifies it. Building on the impressive print offerings by Eric Schlosser and Michael Pollan, Kenner’s film examines the drastic ways in which the very nature of the American food supply has changed in recent years, and, more disconcertingly, the over manipulations major corporations engage in to conceal these changes from the general public. The game is rigged against consumers, pushing them ruthlessly toward unhealthy choices. Simultaneously, any food workers who try to challenge the most insidious parts of the system, even through simply trying to personally practice food cultivation in a more ethical manner, are smashed down by a battalion of lawyers and a judicial system that’s been slowly reconfigured with appalling protections for the status quo. Kenner carefully makes the case that this is approaching a level of crisis. In particular, his empathetic portrait of the true victims of this situation, those whose lives have literally been destroyed by efforts to keep profit margins protected at the expense of the whole of society, creates a profound, heartbreaking sense of the ways in which every last one of us can become a casualty of a vast industry that wants us to forget that we are what we eat.
(Posted simultaneously to “Jelly-Town!”)