Watching the documentary "Food, Inc.” is like noshing a giant serving of chicken livers and Shock Tarts at 3 in the morning.
The film overstuffs the viewer with rich food for thought but leaves you with the unsatisfied feeling that it missed the mark. And the liberal sprinkling of scare tactics gives a sour taste.
"Food, Inc.” is showing this weekend at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.
Filmmaker Robert Kenner asks an important question: "How much do we really know about the food we buy at our local supermarkets and serve to our families?”
From the outset, he dispels the myth that much of our food comes from the idyllic family farms pictured on the side of butter containers and cheese wrappers. Now, a few multinational corporations grow, raise, slaughter, process, package and ship from highly mechanized settings the vast majority of what we eat.
Efficiency is the bread and butter. Yes, it’s disturbing that making lots of money and lots of cheap food seems much more important than food safety standards, humane treatment of animals and workers, the livelihood of farmers and decent environmental practices.
Several corporations in question refused to be interviewed for the film. Kenner focuses most of the screen time on two writers, Michael Pollan, author of "The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” and Eric Schlosser, author of "Fast Food Nation.” He occasionally features a farmer, crop council representative or corporate suit. His most effective interviews are with a grieving mother whose son died of E. coli infection, making her an advocate for tougher meat-processing safety laws, and an independent farmer using organic methods.
The film tours overcrowded chicken coops, various slaughterhouses and supermarket aisles. A somber narrator, urgent music and lingering shots of doomed cows and pigs often are used to ramp up the shock value. Kenner’s apparent determination to scare Americans onto a starvation diet often overshadows good information he wants to convey.
But some of the film’s information is not good, or at least it is one-sided.