Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Future of Food - a review, kind of

This morning I rushed as I woke up as early as Martin and before the sun, I rushed out the door at 6am slightly nauseous from the vitamins I had just gobbled down with a piece of toast and made my way into work. On my way in, I stopped at the little deli around the corner to pick up bagels for our Intern Orientation. On my way there, I couldn't help but think of the documentary I had just seen the night before from Netflix. The film was all about organic foods and a company that was trying to make all foods genetically modified, in order to feed more people and make foods cheaper in the bad state of the current economy.  Were these bagels I was about to buy organic? Were they healthy to eat? Was I contributing to the market of cheap unhealthy food by buying cheap unhealthy food?  And the answer is yes. Yes I just went against everything I had learned the night before from the film "The Future of Food" and I knew it. (Luckily, the interns who we hired were smart enough to say no thanks to the bagels and just take the OJ. I asked myself, was the world getting smarter? I hoped so.) Other than this morning, I try to buy organic, I put money aside and make it a point to go to Whole Foods or Westerly Market, but sometimes I run out of time or I just want something when I want it and organic is not available, and other times its cheaper to buy the "conventionally" grown instead of the "organic".  I guess this film just put me over the edge and helped me to really feel that pang of guilt when I went up to the counter to buy the bagels. 

The film looks into a company called Monsanto, its a company that produces genetically modified foods to feed lots of people. (While we were in Hawaii, we actually met a man who told us about their presence on Molokai and how there were big protests against them there.)  The film takes a peek into the lives of farmers in America who survive their next season by using the seeds used from their crops the years before. In short, they save their seeds for the next year. The problem with genetically modified foods is that the seeds can be used for 1 year for crops, but the crops born from those seeds, will not produce growable seeds themselves. This doesn't sound too good, especially for the farmers who save their seeds. There is a point in the film where court cases are brought up. With many of the cases, the company Monsanto visits the farm. Some time later Monsanto sues the owner of the farm saying that some of the crops grown on that farm are genetically modified and are patented by Monsanto. The owner of the farm says he hasn't taken Monsanto's genetically modified seeds but must get rid of all of his prior seed to make sure it is not contaminated with Monsanto's seed and then start from scratch. The farmers explain how frustrating this is and how much money they lose by doing this, but they must in order to keep their farms. The film looks into ideas like - how can one patent a seed? years ago it was decided that seeds because they are grown naturally and can blow in through the breeze or get pooped out from a bird in some random place, could not be patented, what happened to allow Monsanto to patent them? One of the issues I see with Monsanto becoming a giant in the seed making industry, mostly they would because genetically modified foods are cheap, they grown anywhere and usually are much larger than the normal size of a fruit or vegetable and so feed more people, the only seeds farmers stuck in the situation above will be able to buy will be Monsanto's seeds, which they will be forced to purchase again the next year, leaving many organic local farmers out of business. One argument for genetically modified foods (from a friend in my office actually) is that those foods can feed mass amounts of people in third world countries who don't have any food, so now at least they'll have something to eat. "The Future of Food" addresses this idea and says that the majority of starvation actually occurs from lack of nutrition instead of from a lack of food and genetically modified food may not be as nutrient dense as its organic counterpart. As shown in the film, Monsanto is even genetically modifying foods so that they have pesticides inside them, in their genetic makeup, to help with keeping pests away. I don't know about you, but I take in enough pollution and chemicals in my water, I don't need anymore in my food! The first part of this film is interesting to watch, very informative and a must see!  If nothing else it urges me to get my butt to Whole foods or another organic market and pay that extra dollar for a head of kale, or organic wheat bagel...

oooo something else to check out, on your fruits and veggies there is a sticker. Usually its a 5 digit number. If the number begins with a 4 it is conventionally grown (4 is poor quality is how I remember it), if it begins with an 8 it is genetically modified, and if it begins with a 9 its Organic.


  1. Wow. You had so much good info here! I love seeing someone else have the love for organic foods. I really do think the world is starting to catch on that eating processed foods are just plain BAD for you. I think people's health is the main factor, and they are linking all those awful diseases to the food they eat and the chemicals they come into contact with each day. I just wish everyone could get educated on this subject. Thanks for posting this! :)

    happy day to you!

  2. You're right, health is the main factor and I agree that diseases are totally being linked to foods we are eating. It feels good to get feedback on this! Sometimes I feel like I'm just ranting. Thanks for your comment Allyson and glad you liked the post! Happy day to you too!!

  3. Very cool Nikki. I have began eating MUCH more healthy and loved this. I have netflix and this is going on my list tonight.

  4. Interesting.

    So long as food tastes good, I'll eat it.

  5. I've been trying to eat less processed foods. Living in a small town it is very hard to find organic products. I'm trying though. And doing a lot of online shopping. (I'm ditching the "bad" beauty products, too.)

  6. I'm tired just thinking about all this!!!

  7. I know I should be concerned about this, but I just have trouble making sense of all the info that's out there. I can definitely start with the sticker thing, though. I'll figure that out!

    Thanks for the info!
    (stopped in from SITS)


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