I recently came across this article about food-related movies, and I couldn’t agree with it more. It’s well worth a read and has inspired me to speak out on my thoughts as well. The premise is that a lot of the so-called “documentaries” about agriculture on places like Netflix are usually not very truthful. It saddens me and sickens me to hear that movies like “Food, Inc.” are shown in classrooms. “Food, Inc.” couldn’t be further from the truth.
A personal story about me:
In 2009 I watched this film. At this time I wasn’t yet a farmer; I actually lived in Downtown Chicago. After watching this movie, I was so horrified that I only shopped at Whole Foods and only bought organic products. If you are or were like me, you most likely would feel the same way. You come out of this movie feeling sickened, disgusted, and angry — wanting to never eat conventional foods again.
But there’s a twist. This is what movies like this want you to believe, for their own personal gain/agenda. Follow the money. Remember how beautiful they made “Stonyfield Organic” sound? Yeah, that wasn’t by coincidence — they did the funding. The entire movie (yes it’s a movie, not a documentary) was funded by the organic food industry. Rumor has it the folks behind this film did not want to listen to anyone with a different viewpoint than their own. They purposely wanted to show a very one-sided biased view. Now, there is obviously nothing wrong with organic farms. All farmers deserve respect no matter how they grow or what size they are. But this romanticized imagery of “big is bad, small is good,” and a lot of other myths in films like this are just not true. Farming boils down to management, not size or label.
Now that I’ve been farming for some time, I wish I knew then what I know now. I could’ve saved myself a lot of money and worry.
Another flick getting all the attention these days is “Cowspiracy.” People have claimed they stopped eating meat after watching, but that’s what the creators of the movie want. But if you dig in on the funding, the premise, and the data, you’ll find the main study sourced within the film was a study that was over 10 years old and was retracted. (You can find some articles debunking the study here and here.) It’s always important to be skeptical of sensationalism. As they say, “fear is easy, science is hard.” It’s a master technique that the media has down pat. Let’s not allow ourselves to be so easily influenced without digging deeper first, from all sides of the coin.
The silver lining? Movies like this that shaped my views of food and farming years ago have given me the inspiration to do what I do. To encourage everyone to actually talk to large-scale farmers. To see the farms with your own two eyes. To learn the truth directly from the people who devote their entire lives and careers to this, and not just take a movie on Netflix at face value. The conversation is ready to be had, it just takes people wanting to come to the table and keep an open mind.
Remember, there are two sides to every story. Take Netflix movies with a grain of salt and view multiple sides of the argument. If fear is driving your purchasing decisions, take a look at the source, think critically, and ask real farmers.
Michelle Miller, the Farm Babe, is an Iowa-based farmer, public speaker and writer, who lives and works with her boyfriend on their farm which consists of row crops, beef cattle, and sheep. She believes education is key in bridging the gap between farmers and consumers.