Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Robert Kenner|
|Edited by||Kim Roberts|
|Distributed by||Magnolia Pictures|
|Box office||$4.6 million|
Food, Inc. is a 2008 American documentary film directed by filmmaker Robert Kenner. The Academy Award-nominated film examines corporate farming in the United States, concluding that agribusiness produces food that is unhealthy, in a way that is environmentally harmful and abusive of both animals and employees. The film is narrated by Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser.
The film's first segment examines the industrial production of meat (chicken, beef, and pork), calling it inhumane and economically and environmentally unsustainable. The second segment looks at the industrial production of grains and vegetables (primarily corn and soy beans), again labeling this economically and environmentally unsustainable. The film's third and final segment is about the economic and legal power, such as food labelling regulations, of the major food companies, the profits of which are based on supplying cheap but contaminated food, the heavy use of petroleum-based chemicals (largely pesticides and fertilizers), and the promotion of unhealthy food consumption habits by the American public. It shows companies like Wal-Mart transitioning towards organic foods as that industry is booming in the recent health movement.
- Patricia Buck
- Diana DeGette
- Vince Edwards
- Phil English
- Gary Hirshberg
- Larry Johnson
- William P. Kealey
- Barbara Kowalcyk
- Richard Lobb
- Carole Morison
- Gonzalez Family
- Moe Parr
- Eduardo Peña
- Stephen R. Pennell
- Michael Pollan
- Michael Renov
- Eldon Roth
- Troy Rousch
- David Runyon
- Joel Salatin
- Eric Schlosser
- Rosa Soto
- Allen Trenkle
Michael Pollan was a consultant and appears in the film. Eric Schlosser co-produced and appears in the film. Participant Media was the production company. The film took three years to make. Director Kenner claims that he spent large amounts of his budget on legal fees to try to protect himself against lawsuits from industrial food producers, pesticide and fertilizer manufacturers, and other companies criticized in the film.
An extensive marketing campaign was undertaken to promote the film. A companion book of the same name was released in May 2009. Stonyfield Farm, an organic yogurt maker located in New Hampshire, promoted the film by printing information about it on the foil lids of 10 million cups of its yogurt in June 2009.
Releases and box office
The film was shown as a preview at the True/False Film Festival in Columbia, Missouri, in February 2009. It also screened at several film festivals in the spring before opening commercially in the United States on June 12, 2009, in New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. It made $61,400 in its first week. It expanded to an additional 51 theaters in large cities in the U.S. and Canada on June 19. It made an additional $280,000 its second weekend.
The producers invited on-screen rebuttals from Monsanto Company, Tyson Foods, Smithfield Foods, Perdue Farms, and other companies, but all declined the invitation. Monsanto says it invited the filmmakers to a producers' trade show, but they claimed that they were denied press credentials at the event, and were not permitted to attend. An alliance of food production companies (led by the American Meat Institute) created a website, SafeFoodInc.org, in response to the claims made in the film. Monsanto also established its own website to specifically respond to the film's claims about that company's products and actions. Cargill told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the company welcomed "differing viewpoints on how global agriculture can affordably nourish the world while minimizing environmental impact, ensuring food safety, guaranteeing food accessibility and providing meaningful work in agricultural communities." But the company criticized the film's "'one-size-fits-all' answers to a task as complex as nourishing 6 billion people who are so disparately situated across the world."
Fast-food chain Chipotle responded to the documentary in July 2009 by offering free screenings of it at various locations nationwide and stating that it does things differently, which it hopes customers will appreciate after seeing Food, Inc.
The film's director, Robert Kenner, has denied attacking the current system of producing food, noting in one interview: "All we want is transparency and a good conversation about these things." In the same interview, he went on to say, "...the whole system is made possible by government subsidies to a few huge crops like corn. It's a form of socialism that's making us sick."
The film has been highly rated by critics collectively, with a combined rating of 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, and 80 out of 100 on Metacritic. The Staten Island Advance called the documentary "excellent" and "sobering", concluding: "Documentaries work when they illuminate, when they alter how we think, which renders Food, Inc. a solid success, and a must-see." The Toronto Sun called it "terrifying" and "frankly riveting". The San Francisco Examiner was equally positive, calling the film "visually stylish" and "One of the year’s most important films..." The paper called the picture's approach to its controversial subject matter "a dispassionate appeal to common sense" and applauded its "painstaking research and thoughtful, evenhanded commentary..."
The Los Angeles Times, too, praised Food, Inc.'s cinematography, and called the film "eloquent" and "essential viewing". The Montreal Gazette noted that despite the film's focus on American food manufacture, the film is worth viewing by anyone living in a country where large-scale food production occurs. The paper's reviewer declared Food, Inc. "must-see", but also cautioned that some of the scenes are "not for the faint of heart".
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted that other documentaries and books have examined similar issues before; however, the film was still worth seeing: "The food-conglomerate angle was covered in a less-ambitious documentary called King Corn, and a more-ambitious documentary called The Corporation touched on the menace of the multinationals; but this one hits the sweet spot, and it does it with style." The review concluded that the most powerful portion of the film focused on Monsanto's pursuit of legal action against farmers it accuses of improperly saving and reselling or replanting Monsanto’s patented seed, in violation of a signed stewardship agreement and contract not to save and resell or replant seeds produced from the crops they grow from Monsanto seed.
The San Francisco Chronicle, while noting the film has a "flair for the dramatic", concluded: "...it throws out one zinger after another, making its case with the methodical and unremitting force of muckrakers trying to radicalize—or at least rouse—a dozing populace." The Environmental Blog sympathized with the film's message and urged viewers to "vote to change this system."
Other reviews have not been as positive. A commentator at Forbes magazine found the film compelling but incomplete. The picture, the reviewer found, "fails to address how we might feed the country—or world" on the sustainable agriculture model advocated by the filmmakers, and that it failed to address critical issues of cost and access. A reviewer for the The Washington Times said the movie was "hamstrung" because few corporate executives wished to be interviewed by those documentarians, although the reviewer agreed that the film was aiming for balance.
- A Place at the Table (2012), documentary film
- Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (2007), nonfiction book by Barbara Kingsolver
- Deconstructing Dinner (founded January 1, 2006), multimedia project
- Food Matters (2008), documentary film about nutrition
- Taste the Waste (2010), documentary film written and directed by Valentin Thurn
- The Future of Food (2004), documentary film
- The Jungle (1906), novel exploring the American meat-packing industry, by Upton Sinclair
- Fast Food Nation (2001), nonfiction book by Eric Schlosser
- "Food Inc. (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. January 13, 2010. Retrieved August 22, 2016.
- Box Office Information for Food, Inc. The Wrap. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
- "Food, Inc." BoxOfficeMojo.com. February 27, 2010. Accessed 2009-02-27.
- Severson, Kim. "Eat, Drink, Think, Change." The New York Times. June 3, 2009.
- Biancolli, Amy. "Review: 'Food, Inc.' Not for the Squeamish." San Francisco Chronicle. June 12, 2009.
- Chesterman, Lesley. "A Film That Will Make You Think Before You Eat." Montreal Gazette. June 20, 2009.
- "New Film Offers Troubling View of US Food Industry." Associated Press. June 7, 2009.
- Simmons, Krista. "What Really Goes Into the Bag: Behind the Movie 'Food, Inc.'." Los Angeles Times. June 7, 2009.
- There is some dispute as to how long the film was in production. In another interview, director Robert Kenner claims the film took six years to make. See: Math, Mara. "The Right to Know About What We Eat." San Francisco Examiner. June 11, 2009.
- Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food Is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer—And What You Can Do About It. Karl Weber, ed. New York: PublicAffairs, 2009. ISBN 1-58648-694-2
- Levine, Allen. "Little Ag vs. Big Ag? Best Bet On Both." St. Paul Pioneer Press. June 18, 2009.
- "'Food, Inc.' Gets Promo on Yogurt Lids." The Hollywood Reporter. June 11, 2009.
- Marrero, Diana. "Sensenbrenner Cow Tax Fears Come Out of Thin Air." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. June 13, 2009.
- "Food, Inc." True/False Film Festival. No date. Accessed 2009-07-31. Archived March 14, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
- Deardorff, Julie. "Food, Inc.: How Factory Farming Affects You." Chicago Tribune. June 12, 2009.
- "Good Buzz Wins Out As 'Hangover,' 'Up' Dominate Box Office Once Again." Los Angeles Times. June 14, 2009; Germain, David. "'Hangover' Hangs On As No. 1 Movie With $33.4M." Associated Press. June 14, 2009.
- Kilday, Gregg. "'Proposal' Accepted at the Box Office." The Hollywood Reporter. June 21, 2009.
- Braun, Liz. "You'll Choke On This Info." Toronto Sun. June 19, 2009.
- Rayner, Jay. "Food Is the New Fur for the Celebrity With a Conscience." The Observer. June 14, 2009.
- "UK Film release schedule - past, present and future". www.launchingfilms.com. 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-10.
- Kearney, Christine. "Film Aims to Expose Dangers in U.S. Food Industry." Reuters. June 9, 2009.
- Gustin, Georgina. "'Food, Inc.' Chews Up Monsanto, Agribusiness Cousins." St. Louis Post-Dispatch. June 26, 2009.
- Ruiz, Rebecca. "What Food Activists Ignore." Forbes. June 11, 2009.
- The trade show operators said they did not maintain records on rejected requests for press credentials. See: Gustin, "'Food, Inc.' Chews Up Monsanto, Agribusiness Cousins," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 26, 2009.
- SafeFoodInc.org Web site. Accessed 2009-06-07.
- "Web Site Takes on 'Food Inc'." Pork Magazine. June 12, 2009; Levin, Ann. "'Food Inc.' Has Sickening View of Food Industry." Associated Press. June 21, 2009.
- Monsanto site about the movie Food, Inc. Accessed 2009-06-07.
- "Cargill's Response to 'Food Inc.'." Minneapolis Star Tribune. June 20, 2009.
- "Free Food – Food, Inc., That Is". Zagat.com. July 9, 2009.
- Birdsall, John. "A Conversation with 'Food, Inc.' Director Robert Kenner." San Francisco Weekly. June 12, 2009.
- Barbour, Sharon. "Socialites Freak at Food Film; Coralie Paul Plumps for Tomatoes". The New York Observer. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
- "Food, Inc. (2009)" RottenTomatoes.com Accessed 2010-11-30.
- "Food, Inc." Metacritic.com No date. Accessed 2009-11-19.
- Hill, Todd. "'Food, Inc.,' 'Moon' Top This Week's Alternatives to Mainstream Movies." Staten Island Advance. June 12, 2009.
- Drake, Rossiter. "Here's Why Food Is Factory Fresh." San Francisco Examiner. June 12, 2009.
- Goldstein, Gary. "Movie Review: 'Food, Inc.'" Los Angeles Times. June 12, 2009.
- Williams, Joe. "'Food, Inc.'" St. Louis Post-Dispatch. June 26, 2009.
- Food Inc Review - The Environmental Blog
- Bunch, Sonny. "Moore Worry Haunts Cinema." The Washington Times. June 19, 2009.
- Kilday, Gregg. "Seattle Fest Announces Winners." The Hollywood Reporter. June 14, 2009.
- "Taste the Waste at Oneworld.cz". Oneworld.cz.
- Official website
- Food, Inc. at the Internet Movie Database
- Food, Inc. at AllMovie
- Food, Inc. at Rotten Tomatoes
- Excerpts from the movie and an interview with director Robert Kenner on the PBS show NOW
- Interview with director Robert Kenner on the CBSNews.com political Web show, "Washington Unplugged"
- Food, Inc. website on POV