The Belcourt's Food on Film week begins tonight with Food, Inc. After the 7 p.m. screening, the theater will host hors d'oeuvres from Whole Foods and a panel discussion with raw-food advocate Laura Button; Cindy Delvin, president of Tennessee Organic Growers Association; Will Harris, owner/operator of the grass-fed cattle farm White Oak Pastures in Bluffton, Ga.; Cassi Johnson, director of Food Security Partners of Middle Tennessee; and Marty Mesh, executive director of the Florida Organic Growers. On Saturday starting at 11 a.m., the theater turns its parking lot into an Outdoor Info/Expo Fair for local farms, producers and organizations. For a schedule of films, visit The Belcourt's website.
FOOD, INC. (June 26-July 2) If you've read Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, then you know the main characters in this sobering documentary about the American food system: Big Corn, Factory Farms and Supermarket Pastoral. Part spy thriller, part animal snuff film, Food, Inc. brings to genetically engineered and hormone-enhanced life the story of post-industrial farming, with menacing scenes of crop-dusting helicopters, aerial footage of manure-caked feedlots, and one mother's heartrending campaign to improve food safety after her toddler died from E. coli.
The political, environmental and personal themes that made Pollan's book an unexpected page-turner also make for a riveting couple of hours at the movies. (It doesn't hurt that the occasional voiceover by co-producer and Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser sounds like The X Files' David Duchovny.) Director Robert Kenner paces deftly from poorly ventilated chicken sheds in the Midwest to alabaster halls in Washington, D.C., to make the case against a web of agribusiness and consumerism--from the FDA turning a blind eye on food safety in favor of Big Beef, to Monsanto browbeating farmers who decline to use pesticide-resistant seeds.
Like any good persuasive campaign, Food, Inc. presents only one side of the story. The heavyweight industrial growers declined to speak on camera, and little voice is given to the global nutritional advances associated with industrial agriculture. Still, by the time Bruce Springsteen breaks into "This Land Is Your Land" as the closing credits roll, your high-fructose-corn-syrup-infused movie snacks won't taste as good as they once did--and Kenner will ably have made his point. CARRINGTON FOX
UPDATE: Bites will put up an open thread Monday to get your reactions to the movie (and the other films in the Belcourt series). Be there. Aloha.