Monday, November 30, 2009

Inspirational documentary of the month: Food, Inc.

First came An Inconvenient Truth, which turned me into a tree-hugging, earth-loving hippie for a couple of years.  And then I changed my mind and pondered making my own documentary entitled "So Spring Comes a Little Earlier Each Year: What's So Bad About That?".*

Then I saw Sicko, and jumped on the universal health care bandwagon.  Yeah, I've pretty much done a "John Kerry" 180-degree flip-flop on that one.  While I definitely like the idea of covering as many people as possible (I'm a softie for taking care of the people), Tim convinced me that health insurance should basically not be treated differently from car insurance, home insurance, or any other type of disaster insurance.  I could go on more about this, but that's out of scope for this blog entry.

Now, it's about the food we eat.  This topic was first broached by King Corn, which documented the industrialization of corn, how it has killed the family farm, and how corn now permeates the majority of the food we eat.  Food, Inc., further, "examines large-scale agricultural food production in the United States, concluding that the meat and vegetables produced by this type of economic enterprise leads to inexpensive but unhealthy and environmentally-harmful food" (description stolen from the linked Wikipedia article because I'm too unoriginal to come up with a better one).

Food, Inc. is definitely a movie worth seeing, if only to raise awareness and/or stimulate discussion.  My first instinct after seeing it is to become a vegetarian or only eat organic produce.  But I've had this reaction before, and it didn't last very long.  It seems that the lifestyle that I prefer (often on the go, never cooking for myself) is not very compatible with this choice.  And then there's the worry (briefly dismissed by one of the organic farmers in the movie) of whether we could feed everybody if the system shifted to organic policy.  I have some other solutions to the overpopulation problem that drives this concern, but I fear those are too radical for dissemination.

In any case, I invite anyone who has not seen this movie to do so.  Afterward (or if you've seen it already), you can engage me in rational discourse to convince me that I am overreacting, or underreacting, to it.

* - I should confess that I'm still a bit of an environmental hippie, but not for the same reasons.  In general, I think reusing, reducing, and recycling is a good thing, but a lot of my motivations are more financial these days (even though I still pay more for electricity), as opposed to attempting to save the world from impending doom.


  1. With regards to health care, I recommend listening to this podcast of This American Life.

    Honestly, I don't know what I think of "Universal" health care, but I do not think that health insurance should be just like auto or home insurance. For one, you don't have nearly as much control over your health risk factors as you do your fire or driving risk factors. I don't think the current bill before congress is perfect by any means, but I do think the rules of the health insurance market need a significant overhaul. Like eliminating pre-existing conditions, maximum payouts, etc... As long as the health care reform bill fixes thoes issues, I'll support it.

    Yeah, you didn't blog about health care, but you did mention it, and I couldn't stop myself.

  2. Uh, this is just because I forgot to click that email follow up comments to me tic box.

  3. Thanks for the link. I'll try to get to it sometime this winter.

    I agree that health insurance shouldn't be the exact same as other hazard insurance, which is why I tried to condition it with "basically". The more I think about it, the more I agree that there are "pre-existing conditions" out of our control. I think legislation that bans penalizing these would be a good thing. However, the part that I think should be more like the other hazard insurance is divorcing health insurance from your employer and allowing freedom to shop around for it. And if you engage in behavior that's riskier to your health (e.g., drinking or smoking) it should make sense for your premiums to be higher in the same way that bad drivers have higher premiums.

    My thoughts on this issue are not fully developed, so I have been avoiding writing about it. I'm just gonna try not to think about it and let the people in Washington fix it (or mess it up) as best they can.

  4. Obi, if you're interested in some rational discourse, check out the planet snewpy forum. We've actually covered a few of these topics in recent weeks. We'd love to have you join the discussion!


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