A.A. Gill on industrial food production

The film [Food, Inc.] may be the only thing that Stella and I agree about — apart from bias cutting and asymmetric hemlines, of course. It’s an unblinking, comprehensive and clear-sighted, partisan view of the food industry in ­America. Almost everything consumed there comes from half a dozen enormous, secretive ­companies that behave like 19th-century robber barons. Afterwards, I spoke to Robbie Kenner, the director. He thinks this is the way that all food production is going. Soon, Brazil and China will dominate everything we eat. China is already looking to use Africa as an allotment.


The film points out that most people have no idea where their dinner comes from. It was certainly true of Stella’s stellar audience. The woman next to me looked as if she’d just been given a surprise bikini wax when a couple of chickens got their necks wrung. “Oh, my God,” she hissed. “That was so, so gross. I’m never eating bacon again.” Personally, I couldn’t give a second-hand toothpick for happy sheep. I can’t get aerated about measuring the projected quality of life of a hen in terms of square feet and whether they get Debussy on the Tannoy, or in giving beach balls to piglets (I didn’t make that up). They’re all ­going to die, there’s no getting around that. Whether you eat it or not, it all ends fighting for breath, and what matters is not how, or when, but why. So a goose being stuffed for foie gras is a good and noble thing, because foie gras is good and noble. Chickens being electrocuted for frozen nuggets isn’t, because frozen nuggets are vile and humiliating.

Gill goes on to invite us all to commit to making two meals a week from scratch. Pretty much every meal in our house is made from raw ingredients. Save the pasta ‘n’ sauce that’s an occasional guilty pleasure of mine. Sorry.


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