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Food, Inc., Food Revolution Make For Appointment TV

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Apr 21, 2010 8:40PM


Director Robert Kenner spent a sizable portion of the budget for his Academy Award-nominated documentary Food, Inc. on legal fees vetting his findings in order to protect himself from being sued by agribusiness giants in any of the thirteen states that have food libel laws. The film, narrated by Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser, examines corporate (or "factory") farming in the United States and concludes that much of the meat and produce produced by these farms have costs involved that are unhealthy to the environment and the consumer. In an age where we can catch E. coli just as easily from a tomato purchased at a supermarket as we do from tainted beef, Food, Inc. is a sobering look at how we've come to this point and how large agriculture giants such as Monsanto and Smithfield have gamed a system intended to protect the consumer for their own means and go after critics like Kenner, Pollan and Schlosser in court (Kenner invited Monsanto, Smithfield and other large agribusiness companies to film rebuttals of his findings, but refused). Food, Inc. makes its television debut this evening on PBS. Locally, it airs at 9 p.m. on WTTW-11.1. The film will start streaming on tomorrow.

Meanwhile, we've been thoroughly engrossed the past six weeks by Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, which chronicles the British chef's alternating Herculean and Sisyphean effort to steer the people of Huntington, WV toward healthier eating choices in schools and at home. Understanding a lot of what airs is edited to make the viewer empathize with Oliver, the moment in last week's episode that resonated with us the most was when he met with officials from the local hospital for assistance in his work, only to find those same officials seemingly more concerned with how Huntington would be perceived by others throughout the country.

Oliver certainly walks the walk — he's traveled the globe promoting healthy eating and establishing healthy eating programs in schools — but previews for this week's episode indicate that his work in Huntington may fall apart if he isn't around to oversee it. Now if only ABC (WLS-TV, Channel 7.1) would air Food Revolution in a time slot other than Friday nights at 8 p.m., maybe the show could do even more good.