“Food”Astrophe – a Rhetorical Analysis of Food, Inc
Food, Inc. accomplishes exposing an, almost, forced monopolization of food providers through strong artistic imagery, revealing the health risks of eating processed foods, and through testimonies of the victims directly affected by this. There is a stroke of brilliance from Robert Kenner, the creator of the revelatory documentary, Food, Inc.. Kenner is no “newbie” to the film world with 9 previous works he has written and directed, most of which are documentaries created to raise awareness to specific, world changing issues.
This feature familiarizes the watchers with the risks of eating processed foods while exposing the proposed, monopolized food industry. It is clear when watching that the writers of Food, Inc. intended this film to be viewed by anyone that eats food, as you probably have already guessed, this includes every living person. The producer’s strategy utilizes strong biased opinions from people who have been directly affected by the direction major food corporations have taken their operations to prove the point of this film.
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Artistically, this film takes advantage of the viewer’s emotions using strong color palettes and music to shape the audience with feelings that are specific to what the producers present. Food, Inc. starts with a whimsical song consisting of strings and other orchestral instruments and immediately displays a bright, green camera shot panning across rolling, lush hills. It does not take more than a minute before the song transitions into an, almost devious tune that suggests there is much more beneath the surface.
While this transition plays out the narrator, Eric Schlosser, explains how supermarkets deceive buyers using pictures of farms, animals, and green pastures on their packaging and displays but “the industry doesn’t want you to know the truth about what you are eating because if you knew, you might not want to eat it”. Schlosser is an investigative reporter with a focus mainly on large food corporations. Immediately, the colors fade and the image of a cow in a pasture transforms to reveal the same steer standing amidst thousands of cattle ankle deep in manure and urine.
According to the film, a large amount of the feces will travel through the slaughtering process and into the package ready for buying. As the movie exposes, this is the reality of where our beef comes from; “not a farm, but a factory”. The title scene shows a business man walking through a grain field and in the background of the scene is the Capital Building and two factories on each side of the screen. These are a small collection of Kenner’s magical tools to convince the audience of his cause. Kenner then introduces some of the chicken farmers who provide the product for Tyson Foods.
It quickly becomes clear the farmers who are being interviewed do not want to work with Tyson, but they cannot make this statement for fear of breach of contract. The directors suggest this using quick camera shots of the very saddened faces of the chicken farmers under Tyson. Carol Morison was the only farmer who allowed the filming crew to shoot inside of her chicken coops. She had, what seemed to be, a very disappointed outlook on how untraditional and terrifying the methods used by chicken growers has become. The colors used in this segment are very dull lacking vibrancy.
When stepping inside of a chicken house you will find an overwhelming amount of dust and feathers flying around in the air while you walk across a ground coated in feces and urine. The next shot is of Morrison leaving the chicken coop while pulling off a surgical mask and her fighting to catch her breath. According to Morison, it is common and always expected to find a handful of dead chickens’ everyday inside of the chicken holds. Tyson integrates antibiotics in the chicken feed and being around these antibiotics has built allergies towards them in Morison’s body.
It is a very unsanitary and degrading environment for any person to work in and a horrible atmosphere for any animal to be raised in. The chickens will grow from hatch to 5 pounds in just over 7 weeks. This rapid rate of growth prohibits a large selection of the chickens from building proper bone structure and the result is a lot of unnaturally large chickens who cannot walk more than a couple of steps. Tyson has mandated that all of their chicken providers build new chicken houses with no windows or light.
This is to privatize their practices of growing chickens and keep them out of the public eye. The chicken farmers are responsible to pay for these upgrades out of their own pocket. Tyson uses the debt created by this to control the farmers. Morison is one of the few chicken farmers who would not convert her chicken houses to a closed structure and in return Tyson terminated her contract. This is a very common practice with large food corporations according to this film. These companies are not known to be kind and understanding to their contracted employees.
Later in the movie we learn about a company named Monsanto. They are most known for a genetically engineered soybean that is completely resistant to the effects of the weed killer, “Roundup”. The United States government is now allowing companies to patent life making it possible for Monsanto to patent their soybeans. The movie explains how a lot of our countries top federal officials in the food industry have had heavy ties to large corporations. As a result, farmers are investigated on a regular basis by intimidating representatives from Monsanto.
Huge lawsuits are filed against anyone who would tamper with the integrity of the Monsanto soybean. Many farms have been shut down as a result. Claims of farmers who have had Monsanto beans leak into their alternative soybean fields have resulted in heavy fines that result in the forfeiting of their farms. Monsanto forces farmers to turn in information about fellow farmers who are working outside of the laws Monsanto has placed under the signed contract. The correct word for these actions is “blackmail”.
This is the monopoly we have allowed to form and that has taken over our ability to live a healthy and prosperous life. One must ask themselves what is more important; saving 10% on food or spending an extra 10% on food that supports an intact body. This is the message Food, Inc. has fought to present and this surprised viewer is left stunned.
Food, Inc. Dir. Robert Kenner. Perf. Eric Schlosser, Michael Pollan. Netflix. N. p. , n. d. Web. 6 Oct. 2012. <http://movies. netflix. com/WiMovie/Food_Inc. /70108783? trkid=2361637>.