In Melbourne, a city full of food and obsessed by coffee, I cook, I eat, I share the good news and the bad. essjay eats

Food Inc.: Have you seen it yet?

Have you?  If not, why not?

Yes, Food Inc is disturbing.  But not so horrible that you can’t watch it. Yes it is a bit depressing, but you can feel morally superior because “that’s not how we do things in Australia” … yet.

I did think I’d heard all this before, I’ve read Omnivores Dilemma, I’ve read Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal Vegetable …Miracle”; I shop at Farmers’ Markets; I hate large scale shopping centres of any kind;  I encourage others to do the same (mostly by taking bowls of delicious “just picked – no cool room” strawberries and cherries to work); what was here for me?

Well, I needed to see this film.  I needed to say that I had sat through it, I needed to strengthen my backbone and be a bit tougher with myself. I needed to see more of Joel Salatin.

Tammi’s fantastic post on listening to Joel Salatin at the Lake House in Daylesford reminded me of some of the things I said I would do.  See, I gutted chickens for a while to help pay for Uni.  I was a vegetarian for 16 years. I don’t wear fur, don’t anthropomorphise animals, don’t think that humans are superior to anything else living on this planet, I’m OK.  Surely.  But I realised that I can, and should, do more.

The ABC’s Landline program did a story on Joel’s recent trip to Oz, not his first.  What struck me was that many of the folk in the audience at the Lake House were primary producers.  Maybe they are right, maybe we, as consumers, just have to ask for it? It’s on iView.  Go have a look.

But I want to do more, I want to do more because I’m scared of WalMart stocking organic yogurt.  Just like I’m scared of McDonalds promising to use free-range eggs. There aren’t anywhere near enough free range eggs produced in Australia to supply McDonalds.  So what happens then?

Heck, I got nervous when I read about a well known chef talking about how great Schulz’s Organic Milk is.  That’s the milk I buy at my local Farmers’ Market.  I know Simon.  What’s going to happen if “mega-famous chef” builds a huge amount of demand for Simon’s milk?

Here are a few things I’m going to do/be better at as a result of having my conscience pricked:-

  • Don’t waste food – if you buy it, use it!   I think this is the number one thing for me to work on.  It costs more than just what you spend to get that food to you, think of the fuel to move it, the paper to wrap it, the human power to prepare it.  And if that food has come from an animal, it may not have have a nice life, or death. Respect it and don’t waste it.
  • Now that I’m not wasting food, I’m going to buy more from my farmers’ market.  I typically buy most of my veg there, but I’m going to eat less meat, and buy it from someone I know. I’m going to ask about how they raise their meat, how they kill their meat, how far they transport it.  I’m going to let the person who provides me with meat know that I appreciate what they are doing.
  • I’m going to insist on grass-fed steak (at a minimum) if I order steak in a restaurant, and definitely buy grass fed beef for home.
  • I’m going to join Slow Food.  I am a vocal supporter of raw milk, and raw milk cheese – why not go one step further.
  • I’m going to keep on introducing people to their local Farmers’ Markets, by posts on this blog, and by good old one-on-one encouragement.
  • I’m going to follow Michael Pollan on twitter @michaelpollan and read his website.
  • I’m going to keep an eye on the Food Labelling Review that is going on at the moment.  I  wrote to my local members, but I’m going to keep reading the submissions and create noise if I don’t like what I read.
  • I’m going to keep searching for local, accountable food.

As consumers, we’re not powerless.  We need to ask for what we want. Ask.

What can you do?


6 thoughts on “Food Inc.: Have you seen it yet?

  • […] mentioned before that I am concerned about the effect it could have if “Big Business” respond to consumer […]

    Pingback from: essjayeats » Blog Archive » Farmers’ Market Roundup: Gasworks

  • Thought provoking post. Will endeavour to see this over the weekend. Still, I have to say that – of all the folk I know – you already inspire me as far as sustainable, local produce goes. If you don’t think you’re doing enough… how will I ever get there? Cop out thinking, I know. Self defeating and lazy.

    Will get out there and watch the film and think over my priorities. Thanks for writing this, and including useful links.

    Comment from: Injera

  • great post.

    growing your own is good if you have the room/time/water. we make jam when fruit is in season and have fig/nectarine/apricot/damson/seville orange and quince in the garden. and chooks for eggs, of course

    other than that buying local and buying what’s in season, not stuff that has been flown in to cater for our whim for watermelon and strawberries in july…

    i’ll keep thinking about this

    Comment from: lisette

  • Great post. I too had read the book (and many others besides) so the information wasn’t new, however, I was really affected by the human stories attached to the information. I think Australia will be a better place for everyone who sees the film.

    The Food Labelling Review is interesting. I think it shows how close we are to becoming like the USA there are two main conflicts (I’ve taken these from

    * One of the five members of the review panel, Nick Goddard, is from the Australian Oilseeds Federation. This peak industry body has GM companies as members ie: Monsanto, Bayer Crop Science, Dow Agrosciences. Monsanto is the owner of the GM canola variety grown in Australia. Just over 50% of consumers say they would not buy GM if they could avoid it according to a 2007 Roy Morgan Research.

    * Our food regulator, FSANZ, is expected to protect the health and safety of consumers AND promote an internationally competitive food industry (as stated in Section 10 of this report). Food regulators should ONLY be concerned with public health.

    Still, when I went to the meeting in melbourne I was heartened when the lawyer on the panel took a book recommendation for David Kessler’s the End of Overeating and told me he had been reading Marion Nestle.

    As far as things you can do, if you’re a mum you can join MADGE (Mothers Are Demystifying GE) and help campaign for the labelling of all GM, nano and irradiated food. Also, their weekly digest is a great way to keep informed.

    Thanks again for the post.

    Comment from: Katie

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Suzanne Farrell and Suzanne Farrell, Celeste. Celeste said: RT @essjayeff: For the lunchtime crowd – New Blog Post: Have you seen Food Inc yet? […]

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  • Fab! I am actually posting something on Food Inc tomorrow. Watched it and was horrified. Everyone should watch it and be aware a little more. A baby step at a time.

    Comment from: penny aka jeroxie

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