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. As the daughter of one of the independent, traditional, commercial family farmers still in business in this country, I can tell a bull from a steer. And I’m not going to be so grossed out by slaughterhouse scenes that I don’t notice the bull. The film states as fact that feeding corn to cattle has produced powerful strains of E. coli bacteria; this is at best a theory. And while one E. coli outbreak, recall or death is too many, considering the amount of beef produced in these mega-processing plants, it seems that if corn were the culprit, we’d see more E. coli episodes. It’s fashionable to vilify corn, which my dad wants Kenner to know is not as easy or profitable to raise as the film would have you think, because it’s in so many products, including unhealthy ones. And it’s easy to laugh or scoff at the "veggie libel” laws that allowed beef producers to sue Oprah Winfrey after her episode on mad cow disease. But the film doesn’t show a farmer who lost thousands of dollars that day because of a celebrity’s dramatized-for-TV statements. For all the information — good and bad — Kenner stuffs into the film, he manages to only allude to the essential point. In one scene, the organic farmer, Joel Salatin, mentions that some customers complain about paying $3 a dozen for his eggs while swilling 75-cent cans of soda. The truth that "Food, Inc.” doesn’t push too hard is that corporations aren’t really the culprits. Consumers are. We demand that our three squares a day come dirt cheap, so we have more cash for $4 lattes and $1.25 pops. The corporations just cater to our huge appetites for junky, cheap food — and do whatever it takes to keep it as cheap as we demand it. That’s a much tougher message to swallow. — Brandy McDonnell
PG 1:34 2½ stars Starring: Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser, Joel Salatin. (Some thematic material and disturbing images) →Screenings: 5:30 and 8 p.m. today and Saturday. →Where: Oklahoma City Museum of Art, 415 Couch Drive. →Information: 236-3100 or go online to www.okcmoa.com/film.