The Future of Food

2004
Distributed by The Video Project, PO Box 411376, San Francisco, CA 94141-1376; 800-475-2638
Produced by Deborah Koons Garcia
Directed by Deborah Koons Garcia
DVD, color, 88 min.
Sr. High - Adult
Agriculture, Bioethics, Food Studies, Sociology


Reviewed by Kim Stanton, University of North Texas Libraries

Highly Recommended  Highly Recommended   
 
Date Entered: 12/17/2009

The Future of Food is a scathing account of modern industrial agriculture practices. Focusing primarily on corn, soybean and other grains, the film provides an overview of how food production in the United States has transformed over the last 50 years. An in depth case is laid out against agriculture industry giants (Monsanto, ConAgra) and government entities (Department of Agriculture, Food & Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency) for using deliberate tactics to control and radically change the market.

The pace of the film is quick and a lot of ground is covered. The introduction of chemicals to fertilizers and other farming products opened the door for what would eventually become the wide spread genetic modification of fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides and seed. The money and business savvy required for gene experimentation and patenting allowed only the largest companies to compete in this new age of bio-ag and individual farmers soon found themselves at the mercy of corporations who now owned the seed. One of the more interesting and underlying issues addressed by the film is the ideological debate over gene patenting, which Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety refers to as "the largest private taking of what should be the commons." Interviews with farmers in Mexico and Canada reveal the international impact of U.S. food subsidies, which have increased the spread of GMO seeds worldwide. Health and safety issues are discussed in depth, including the dangers associated with monocultures and under tested, unlabeled GMO foods. The international reaction to the U.S. exporting unlabeled GMO foods is also briefly explored.

Originally produced in 2004, The Future of Food continues to hold an important place among other more recent North American-centric food exposť documentaries. It is more damning than Food, Inc and a bit broader in focus than King Corn or The World According to Monsanto. The educational version of the film includes an interesting selection of short films on food related topics such as community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, a Santa Monica elementary school's gardening program and several short portraits of independent farmers. This film is highly recommended for high school and higher education institutions with programs focusing on food studies, globalization, public health or environmental studies.