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"FOOD" Documentary - A Revealing Look at the Sourcing of Our Modern Food Supply

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Factory Farms page and our Environment and Climate Resource Center page.





"Food" is a 30-minute documentary that investigates how demand for more and cheaper food has dramatically altered the entire food chain. Today, food production revolves around efficiency-the ability to produce more for less. The ramifications of this mindset are wide-ranging and far-reaching...

As KPBS' Joanne Faryon reports, "the food chain no longer looks like it used to." Fish no longer eat other fish, and cattle eat very little grass, which is their natural food source. Instead, cattle eat corn, chickens eat corn and fish, and fish eat cows and poultry... Similarly, fresh produce like fruits and vegetables are primarily sold to foreign markets.

California oranges, for example, are exported to far flung places like Japan, while Americans eat oranges from Australia-presumably because Americans prefer the deeper orange color of Australian oranges, and the fact that they're easier to peel. As a result, the carbon footprint of most foods sold in your local grocery store is massive, having made its way thousands of miles from where it was grown.

The Beef About American Cattle Farming

While food prices appear to be on the rise, we actually spend less on our food today than we did a generation ago, thanks to modern food production practices. The ultimate price, however, may be greater than anyone ever expected.

For starters, modern agricultural practices are taking a heavy toll on soil and environmental health, and the way we raise animal foods, especially in the US, results in animal products that are far inferior compared to their ancestral past.  

The practice of raising animals in confined feeding operations (CAFOs) is also having a major detrimental impact on our environment and is a primary source of environmental pollution and rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

Last year, 63 million tons of beef was produced worldwide.1 As stated in the film, while making up only five percent of the world's population, Americans consume nearly 20 percent of all the beef produced globally.

But just how is all this beef produced? The film summarizes how the typical cow makes its way from birth to slaughter in the US. A generation or so ago, cattle would be mostly pasture-raised and sold for slaughter around the age of two or three. The meat would then be taken to the local market.

Today, California cows start out being raised on pasture for about six months before being sold, typically changing hands twice, before ending up in a CAFO feedlot. Feedlots, which were introduced after World War II, are large pens that house tens of thousands of cattle-some can hold herds up to 100,000 animals. 


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