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We Feed the World

Posted by tinako on September 27, 2010

Every five seconds a child under ten dies of starvation. A child that dies of starvation is in effect murdered.

-Jean Ziegler, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food

I just watched “We Feed the World,” a documentary about the globalized food industry.  A quote on the front cover uses the word “absurdities” and I think that’s an apt description.  The first segment, showing how difficult it is for farmers trying to make a living growing wheat, which sells for a lower price than road salt, ends by showing enormous quantities of two-day-old bread being discarded; I’m talking a mountain of bread dumped by the truckload, while mentioned several times during the film is the fact that 100,000 people die of starvation every day.

I had a little trouble relating to this Austrian film with English subtitles.  Quantities were often metric, currency was in euros, and most of the complaints were about the new E.U. laws.  In a way I found it comforting that America doesn’t have the only stupid food system, but of course there is real suffering involved here.

After seeing how poorly this industry is working for so many farmers and consumers (can we call starving people consumers?), the filmmaker makes a visit to Nestle for an interview with the CEO, Peter Brabeck.  I don’t think I agreed with a single thing he said, and of course ending the movie with his out-of-touch words is the whole point.  I don’t often talk back to movies, but I gave Peter Brabeck a piece of my mind when he called the notion that people have a public right to water “extreme.”

Other topics covered in the documentary are large-scale fishing, hybrid seeds, rainforest deforestation for soybeans for animal feeds (“chickens eating the rainforest”), broiler chicken production, and greenhouse vegetables.

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