At a time when our health and weight appears to be at its worst, you would think that our governments and organizations would be doing everything they can to push and promote the healthiest food and lifestyle habits. Yet that is not quite at all what is happening. In fact, as we look around in society the worst foods are the cheapest and most easily available, while the best foods tend to be the opposite case. This has led many people to taking their health into their own hands and becoming more conscious of the food they choose and where it comes from. The journey has thus naturally led many to farmer’s markets, CSA programs, small, local farms and organic food production. However, our choices there seem to be threatened as well.
For those of us who are not yet aware, there is something seriously wrong happening to many small, local farms. Farmers who are trying to raise or grow and produce natural, organic food products are facing some serious problems. How serious? How does having your family held up at gun point sound, or being held hostage in your own home for hours, or having your livestock killed or food taken away?
You may be thinking, surely something of this magnitude cannot be happening in our modern, developed world. Yet this is what is happening more and more to small, local, organic farmers in the United States. Farmers who are trying to grow organic vegetables, raise organic beef or produce raw milk are being threatened, harassed and bullied in ways that boggles our mind beyond belief. For surely how can a system that is so sick be persecuting the very people who are trying to offer healthy, wholesome alternatives? Surely they must have done something else wrong.
Well, the only thing they have done wrong is trying to provide food that is not chemically compromised and is as natural, as Mother Nature intended. And this is exactly what the latest food documentary, Farmageddon examines – The Unseen War on American Farms.
In this review, I share with you some of my thoughts about this issue, this film and what you can expect to take away from it.
Farmageddon was produced, directed and written by Kristin Canty and co-produced by Paul Dewy.
Kristin is a first-time film maker, small farm advocate, fresh milk drinker and a mom. One of her children was ridden with multiple allergies and asthma as a pre-schooler, and when medications couldn’t help him, she found that raw milk helped him recover. Since then, she has tried to buy most of her family’s food directly from local, organic farms. When Kristin learned that farmers and co-ops all over the country were increasingly getting raided by the government, she set out to make a film about it. She hopes that when people see it, it can change the tide of public pressure so that our government stops harassing and adding costly burdens to our small, organic farmers. As Kristin says, she made the movie to be a “cautionary tale for consumers”.
The film is about 1 hour and a half in length, and you can learn more about it at FarmageddonMovie.com
Content & Personal Commentary
Farmageddon chronicles the story of what is currently happening to various small, local, organic farms across the US. It follows the stories of several small farmers and/or food producers, who have had their food products or entire livelihoods destroyed, have been terrorized, threatened or shut down.
It begins with a few clips of the unimaginable treatment of US farmers who have done no wrong, other than trying to grow, raise or sell fresh, organic food. Kristin Canty explains how there are 2 major groups of food producers in the US – the large, corporate industrial farms and small, local farms – and how the small, local farmers are facing more and more threats against their work. This threatens our choice as consumers to choose where our food comes from, and of what quality it is. As we can all imagine, this is a serious problem that takes away a basic, fundamental freedom of each citizen.
The film features various expert interviews with farm owners, food producers, authors, restaurant owners, organization officials and consumers. It is a well balanced, in my opinion, portrayal of the situation as Kristin attempts to speak to participants from all sides of this matter.
For me watching this movie wasn’t so much a presentation of new information, as a confirmation of what I have learned thus far about the food system. And although I do not live in the US, similar cases are happening in Canada and today matters like these involve us all. We are way past the days where we only care for what happens in “my backyard”, and live today in a world where we realize that we are all interconnected. Thus an injustice against one, is an injustice against all. And for those of you who may be shocked by what you learn in this film, these are not isolated cases either, but regular occurrences today. Natural health advocate Mike Adams of NaturalNews.com, shares news about raw milk or organic farm raids on an almost weekly basis. You can read more about this in articles like, FDA’s assault on raw milk has nothing to do with food safety or Multi-agency armed raid hits Rawsome foods.
The focus of the film is specifically what is happening to small farmers who are raising organic animals for meat and dairy sales. And so, as I am not an animal product eater, I could say that this perhaps would not interest or concern me. However, there are some fundamental justice issues addressed that affect each one of us. First, the freedom to choose where our food comes from and what quality it is. Second, to keep the small, local, organic farms alive and thriving, which are the only option for all those of us who have woken up to taking care of our body, health and take what we eat seriously. Thirdly, to allow each person the freedom to grow or raise their own food and be able to share it if such a need arises. Finally, the movie is just another example of how corrupt or biased the current regulations are towards big corporations and against small food producers. The movie also explains the price differences in healthy food, especially from small, local farms versus large factory farmed foods.
One of the animal foods most at risk is raw, unpasteurized milk. Many people have become so conditioned in our society to think that the milk from the store is a safe, healthy and natural beverage that they don’t give it a second thought. When many people today hear “raw milk”, they normally cringe in disgust or question its safety. But as with everything else, we use so many ideas to rule our choice of thoughts, words and actions that are not actually our own, but conditioned upon us by society in a way that benefits the system. We know today, the pasteurization process degrades the quality and safety of milk, while raw milk has numerous health benefits, which do not apply to the health-ruining pasteurized milk. Farmer Mark McAfee of Fresh Pastures Organic Dairy from Fresno, California, explains that pasteurized milk is missing its complimentary bacteria and enzymes. This is what makes it more prone to serious bacterial contamination. Yet raw milk, which has all of its components, is the one that is being targeted as unsafe. Therefore to break the myths about raw and pasteurized milk, Kristin tracks back the history of pasteurized dairy and presents the information which many of us do not know about in the film, of how and why pasteurized milk came to be seen as the only safe choice, while raw milk as a dangerous food product. Everything in the end points to keeping the large corporations afloat, while taking down anyone or anything that threatens their survival.
I definitely enjoyed watching the movie to become further educated on the issues presented, although some parts were very tough to take in, like hearing the heart wrenching stories of what some of the families had to go through, and experience their pain and tears. Although I did find the movie a little too heavy or biased towards animals products, especially raw milk, as I stated above, the issues remain the same. One day they are threatening animal farmers, the next day it will be vegetable farmers, and in many ways with the use of genetically modified organisms it already is. And even though we know enough today, to know that animal products are in no way necessary for a complete or optimally healthy diet, I do believe that everyone should have the choice to choose what they feel is best for them. Ultimately there are levels of personal evolution that we each go through and this movie does a great job sharing the optimal step to take if one chooses to consume animal products.
Some of the interviews from the film that I enjoyed the most were with Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms, who has written numerous books on the topics of food and farming. Joel is a major advocate for safe, natural, local, sustainable farming and food. I also enjoyed hearing from Texas congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul who among other things, states:
The only way we can get this changed is that people have to get so outraged, that they get the attention of congress.
There were several messages that I walked away from after viewing this movie. One is the importance of eating proper animal products, for those who are interested in eating them. This means meat and dairy that came only from grass-fed animals, who were naturally, organically and ethically raised. Also several of the interviewed experts kept re-iterating that regulations put in place currently by the governing bodies in the US like the FDA or USDA, really only serve the industrial corporations. They do not serve the small farmers, nor do they serve the public.
In conclusion, had I not come to the point of evolution that I have to date, I would find what is happening in the US plain and simple, disgusting and very disturbing. Instead today I know that this is all happening for us to wake up and walk away from a corrupt system that is playing with people’s freedom, health and quality of life, but one that we each have allowed to get to the point it has. It is time to start taking conscious responsibility for all of our actions. This is why the best action is not to fight against anything, but take the route of non-participation. There are many parts of the “system” that I do not agree with, and hence I choose not to participate in those. This is why I am consciously aware of every dollar that I spent whether it be on food or other products and services, as this is still the most powerful way we each can vote and make a change.
In the end, the more we know, the better the decisions we can make. The public health establishment should be supporting small farmers and those trying to grow and offer consumers fresh, wholesome, natural food, rather than raiding them, harassing them and trying to put them out of business. What we eat must be our choice, but today this choice is being limited or altogether removed in various parts of the world. This is why we need to wake up. We need to stop playing ignorant or looking the other way and get serious about where our food comes from, and who it is that that we are supporting. We can change the system, by being the change we wish to see.
Farmageddon is currently shown in screenings across the US and will eventually be available for sale on DVD the fall or winter of 2011. To know if a screening is taking place in your area, you can check here. For now you can also enjoy the trailer below: