The Documentary Film Review: Food, Inc., Written and Produced by Robert Kenner and Michael Pollan

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Updated: Aug 17, 2022
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The Documentary Film Review: Food, Inc., Written and Produced by Robert Kenner and Michael Pollan essay

The documentary Food, Inc., written and produced by Robert Kenner and Michael Pollan, won 7 awards and 20 nominations including the Oscars. Released on July 31st of 2009 (“Food, Inc.), the movie made over 4 million dollars at the box office and cost only 1 million for production (Food, Inc. (2009) – Financial Information). It is widely known for its focus on the unbelievable “cooperate controlled food industry”. Despite the horrors of slaughtering animals and unhealthy conditions are present within the industries, it can also be understandable that the food industry is cooperate controlled. The documentary hammers the food industry and presents all sorts of problems with no solutions rather than “grow and buy whole foods.” Thinking about high demand and starvation, how can foods that are not in season be accessed, and how can large populations of people be fed rapidly? The industry is harmful, yet helpful. Solutions are needed, but not presented in Food, Inc.

The documentary covers numerous issues within the food industry, but the most compelling is the mass production of food and how it is executed. Factories are injecting chemicals into certain foods, but it is not understood that for year-round massive amounts of tomatoes, ethylene gas is infused to ripen them quicker and pesticides are sprayed to keep insects from ruining them. People criticize the way tomatoes are “grown” but complain when the market is out of stock. Not only is the produce artificially grown, but harvested animals are as well. According to the film, the highest mass production of animals is the chicken industry. Antibiotics are put into the feed to make the product gain weight and become the plump juicy meat consumers desire. “In a way, we’re not producing chickens; we’re producing food,” states Richard Lobb who is a part of the National Chicken Council, “If you can grow a chicken in 49 days, why would you want one you [have to] grow in three months?” The high population of mouths to feed could not survive going three months without their fried chickens. These people also could not survive without their classic beef burgers.

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Cows, or the beef, naturally eat grass because it is healthy for them, it is what they are supposed to eat. Factories ignorantly feed cows the cheaper option…corn. If corn is fed to a natural grass eater, it messes up their digestive system and there is bacteria, known as E. Coli, built up. “There [is] some research [indicating] that a high-corn diet [results] in acid resistant E. Coli…[this] would be the more [form] harmful E. Coli”, states producer Michael Pollan. Fatal E. Coli for dinner, yum!

Bacterium like E. Coli and additives such as antibiotics, ethylene gases, and pesticides are not safe to ingest and could lead to death. Carole Morrison, a Purdue chicken grower, explains that “there [are] antibiotics…put into the feed and of course [it] passes through the chicken [and] the bacteria builds up a resistance, so antibiotics [do not work] anymore. I have become allergic to all antibiotics and can’t take [them].” Morrison has become immune to certain antibiotics as like the chickens, therefore if she is severely ill there may not be medicines that can help her. Despite immune systems deteriorating, mouths are being fed and who can complain? It is not to say changes should not be made and people are eating the food that kills them, but the film is very hypocritical to slam food industries while they eat a beef factorized cheeseburger themselves. “My favorite meal to this day remains a hamburger and french fries,” said by Kenner himself.

Considering these numerous problems, the documentary becomes one sided and fails to realize they cannot come up with a better way to deliver to the hungry people. The film introduces one authentic farmer named Joel Salatin, who heads his own cattle and raises his own chickens. “She’s fertilizing. She’s mowing. We don’t have to spread any manure. We don’t have to harvest it– she’s harvesting it. It’s all real time,” Salatin says referring to how natural his farm is and does not consider what people will eat while waiting for the cow to finish mowing the grass. This amount of time would cause an apocalypse and people would starve to death. Yes, people could eat other animals, but will the chicken be ready to eat? There could be a wait time for the chicken too, who wants to wait to be fed. People could become vegan or vegetarian but wait…it takes months for the plants to grow also. The population of the United States currently estimated to 330 million, increasing yearly by an estimated 2.3 million (U.S. Population (LIVE)). How could we feed an increasing population of 330 million people while waiting for seasonal fruits and vegetables and natural meats? The documentary does not suggest alternatives mass production of food…for mass population.

In two words, the film documentary Food, Inc. is one-sided. The “investigators” “expose” the corporate controlled food industry without thinking of the reasons why it is the way it is. After watching the film, the majority of people probably went to eat a McDonald’s meal with the $5 they have. Although money is a whole other issue because factors like the government, jobs, school degrees, etc.…it plays a part into how it is not easy to naturally raise animals and plant a garden without having the choice of mass-produced foods. It would impossible to feed everyone unless the documentary suggested acceptable alternatives, in which they do not. Food, Inc. is a hypocritical unknowing film to the reasons why food is mass produced. Mass production is only for the greater good….

Works Cited

  1. “Food, Inc. (2009) – Financial Information.” The Numbers – Where Data and Movies Meet,
  2. “Food, Inc.” IMDb,,
  3. “U.S. Population (LIVE).” United Arab Emirates Population (2018) – Worldometers,
  4. Food, Inc. Directed by Robert Kenner, performances by Robert Kenner, Michael Pollan, Carole Morrison, National Chicken Council, and Joel Salatin. Magnolia Pictures, 2009.
  5. Talk of the Nation. “The Unsavory Story of Industrially-Grown Tomatoes.” NPR, NPR, 26 Aug. 2011, 

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The Documentary Film Review: Food, Inc., Written And Produced By Robert Kenner And Michael Pollan. (2022, Aug 17). Retrieved from