Our Just Youth group at Carleton University in Ottawa hosted a screening of the documentary Food Inc on campus last week.
I had never seen the film before. After having familiarized myself with the D&P campaign on food sovereignty, I figured I was fairly up-to-snuff on where my food was coming from and the injustices that are perpetuated by the way we, especially in the Global North, eat. But whoa! Is there ever a lot to learn!
Even in North America, the lack of control that farmers have over their land and the way that they use it is astonishing. Seed patents prevent farmers from being able to save their seed from year to year. The incessant corporate desire to increase “efficiency” forces farmers to construct the dankest, most poisonous environments possible in which to raise their livestock.
What a world we live in. Traditional farming practises are so undervalued.
The seemingly endless web of connections between big agri-business and government agencies that regulate food policy was astonishing as well. The sheer number of people doubling as government advocates for fewer restrictions on corporate farming and higher-ups in the actual corporations is wild.
How it came to be that farming elites with virtually no connection to on-the-ground production can exert so much control over national and international food policies is beyond me. These monetary hierarchical structures need to be changed.
The consensus within the group was that the film is really calling us to take a good, hard look at the way we eat. Every day, we vote with our dollar in grocery stores and local farmers markets.
But in addition to purchasing more organic, local food, we must also advocate for political change. Because so much of big agri-business relies on subsidies from the government (especially in the United States), we must continue to advocate for change at the policy level as well as at the local level.
Finally, the film presented an interesting perspective on the affordability of food. Essentially, the cheapest food is often also the unhealthiest. This puts people with a lower income in a severely disadvantaged position, especially health wise. In North America, the highest rates of obesity are found in poorer demographics because good quality food is simply too expensive. We must be aware of and work to correct the structures of power and privilege that are present within our society and, by extension, within our food systems.
by Kaitlyn Duthie-Kannikatt, Eastern Ontario Youth Rep