Monday, June 15, 2009

This Movie Changed My Life (No, it's Not Showgirls)

We interrupt this regularly scheduled Monday recipe post for an important message: go see Food, Inc.

This past weekend, the Husband-Elect and I managed to cram ourselves into a screening of the documentary at the Film Forum in Manhattan’s West Village. Directed by Robert Kenner with extensive commentary from both Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser, it’s an important film, and it changed the way we’ll eat from here on in. No kidding.

Some background: I’ve read Fast Food Nation (Schlosser), The Omnivore’s Dilemma (Pollan), and In Defense of Food (Pollan again), as well as an untold number of blog, magazine, and newspaper articles on the modern U.S. food industry. So I knew. But I don’t know if I knew. You know?

You can read about cows hitting adulthood in mere months, growing to mutant sizes, and spending their entire, miserable lives knee-deep in their own feces, but nothing prepares you for seeing it. Or seeing just how corrupt and toothless the USDA and FDA really are. Or seeing how badly farmers and factory workers are exploited. Or seeing that whatever terrible iniquities are visited upon our food system, the best of intentions are almost always behind them.

You can find several reviews of Food, Inc. over here at Eat Me Daily, and I’ll have more details about it on Wednesday. But today, I wanted to dive into how it affected the both of us – how 93 minutes (give or take a few for the credits) will change dinner for the Husband-Elect and me, maybe permanently.

1) We’re starting to buy our meat and eggs from a farmer’s market. We don’t eat much anyway, so we pow-wowed and decided it’s worth it to us to buy quality, humanely raised chicken, pork, and beef. Honestly, I’m kind of excited about this, because I have no idea what a grass-fed hamburger tastes like. (Like lunch in Xanadu, I’m betting.) The transition might be tough, especially when I JUST WANT SOME #&*$^# BACON, but the cold cut bill could be a pleasant surprise.

2) We’re raising our food budget. Right now, our weekly grocery bill hovers around $55 for two people. We’re upping it to $65 or $70. It can be swung if we’re thoughtful with our cash, take extra care to eat at home, and be sure that nothing goes to waste.

3) We’re reducing our intake of high fructose corn syrup, and sugar in general. Um … this will be difficult, largely because I don’t know all the synonyms yet. (Fructose! Maltodextrin! Sorbitol! WOOO!) In fact, I went to the supermarket today, and was pretty sure that one of the salad dressings was made entirely of sugar. Yikes. Breaking our breakfast cereal habit will be hardest of all. Mostly, we’ll miss the puzzles on the back of the box.

4) We’re becoming granola-flecked, chai-swilling hippies who live in yurts and sell hemp blankets so we can follow Phish on tour. Break out the Birkenstocks, baby. (Okay, not really. Still, we’re attempting to change our eating habits for the better, and that could involve bean sprouts. Stay tuned.)

As far as the blog goes, I honest-to-goodness don’t think it’ll change that much. Meat dishes might become scarcer, but I think I can still swing a few inexpensive recipes with higher-quality poultry, pork, and beef. (Heck, maybe even rabbit or lamb.) We’ll see.

Readers, have you seen Food, Inc. yet? Have you seen ANY movie that altered what you put on your table? How did you do with the changes? Advice and/or shared stories would be fantastic.

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