Food, Inc. and Food Matters Review

I am going to lead off this post with a disclaimer that I am not a doctor, nutritionist or dietician.  I am a person who cares about what he puts into his body and I cannot digest enough information while also trying to make heads and tails of it all.  The beauty of this idea is that my body will give me the answers to the questions that arise from consuming certain foods.

That being said I wanted to dedicate today’s post to two documentaries that I have recently watched.  The first movie I watched was Food, Inc.  According to the website for the film: Food, Inc. exposes America’s industrialized food system and its effect on our environment, health, economy and workers’ rights.  I watched this film on the recommendation of a friend and after I had already made the decision to eat a more plant-based diet and really to become vegetarian.  For those of you that are new to this site I made the change not based on a movie, being a member of PETA or any other reason than the fact that I wanted to see how my body reacted to eating a vegetarian diet.  After watching this movie I will say that my decision was confirmed.

I learned about Monsanto, ConAgra and GMOs from this movie.  I have more research to do but this was a terrific start to increase my knowledge of what I feed my body, and more importantly what my family eats.  It is amazing to find out where our food comes from and how there are only a handful of companies that actually own our food supply.  You might say that is not possible because there are thousands and thousands of items in the grocery store.  That is true but that is nothing more than marketing.  The package on the outside is different but there is a good chance that it came from the same plant.

In addition to learning about these companies I also started the process of learning what a GMO is.  Do you know what a GMO is?  Well, fortunately for you I can tell you that a simple Google search revealed that a GMO is a genetically modified organism or is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques (thanks Wikipedia.)

How does this affect you and our food supply?  Straight from Wikipedia comes this description:

To date the most controversial but also the most widely adopted application of GMO technology is patent-protected food crops which are resistant to commercial herbicides or are able to produce pesticidal proteins from within the plant, or stacked trait seeds, which do both. The largest share of the GMO crops planted globally are owned by the US firm Monsanto.[12] In 2007, Monsanto’s trait technologies were planted on 246 million acres (1,000,000 km2) throughout the world, a growth of 13 percent from 2006.

In the corn market, Monsanto’s triple-stack corn—which combines Roundup Ready 2 weed control technology with YieldGard Corn Borer and YieldGard Rootworm insect control—is the market leader in the United States. U.S. corn farmers planted more than 32 million acres (130,000 km2) of triple-stack corn in 2008,[14] and it is estimated the product could be planted on 56 million acres (230,000 km2) in 2014–2015.

It is daunting to read these numbers. It is daunting to know that this is happening and what was disturbing was the way Monsanto enforced the use of their GMOs.

The second movie that I saw was Food Matters: You Are What You Eat.  This movie spoke to me with the title.  I am not a believer in going to the Doctor for any reason outside of a physical.  When I get sick I eat my way to health.  I do get upset when I see all the commercials on TV from pharmaceutical companies touting the latest drug to curb the next problem.  In my mind some of these ‘diseases’ are created by these companies so that they can sell drugs.  The pharma industry is huge.  They spend a lot of money on research and need to turn a profit to keep their board members happy.

I watched with delight as the movie discussed dealing with disease with Niacin and Vitamin C.  We all know where we can find Vitamin C (oranges, strawberries, kale, broccoli) but where do you get Niacin.  Good sources of Niacin are mushrooms, soy sauce, asparagus, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, mustard greens, summer squash, and boiled green peas.  Want to eat meat?  No problem as tuna, chicken breast, turkey and halibut amongst other are good sources of Niacin.

The notion that vitamins and minerals can help cure your ills is not new to me or my belief but this movie reinforced that theory, the same way Food, Inc. reinforced my decision to remaining a vegetarian.

These are not in your face documentaries that will make you cringe.  They present one side of a story, like any documentary, so I encourage you to do your own research.  I can say that I have never felt better about cooking and ensuring that what goes in is what I want to feed my family and myself.  I have a responsibility to make sure that they are healthy and I take it seriously.  I do research and while not always right I will keep working to make sure that what goes on the plate is wholesome and good for them.

My suggestion to you is to watch these movies simultaneously as they approach our food and food supply from different angles.  In combination the movies will have you thinking and talking to your family and friends.  They won’t make you an expert but they will open your eyes to the discussion.  You may or may not agree with them but at least you will be engaged.  As most readers of my site are endurance athletes you already know about how food impacts your training and racing but this will force you to think deeper.

I enjoy talking food and the benefits of it as well as discussing recipes so please send me an email ( if you would like to talk about these movies or anything relating to food and how it has an impact on your ability to train and race.  Have suggestion of movies or books please email those as well.

Have you seen either of these movies?  What was your take?  Did the movies prompt you to making a change to your diet?

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  1. Michael says:

    Deep thoughts this morning! Thanks for giving me yet more things to think about. I have read a few books on the crap that goes into our food system which prompted me to start eating alot more organic foods last year. I have heard of the Food Inc movie, but not the other. I will have to check them out.
    Michael recently posted..Does this Post Make my Butt Look FastMy Profile

  2. MissZippy says:

    Would love to see these movies…have read about both. I am a big fan of getting the word out on these topics–now to get mainstream America educated.
    MissZippy recently posted..How sad is thisMy Profile

    • Jason says:

      The Great MissZ – I could not be more in agreement about getting mainstream America involved. The best part of these two movies are they are not in your face like Super Size Me (which I also liked) but instead are giving you the opportunity to try to learn. Yes it is told from one side but I have not heard of the other side telling their story or producing a movie to combat what is told in these movies.

      With the growth in popularity of the marathon and triathlon people will be paying more attention and hopefully able to focus more on whole-foods.

  3. Adam says:

    Great blog post Jason. I think EVERYONE should at least watch these documentaries. It doesn’t matter what side of the fence you are on.. in the end, you will certainly educate yourself. What I thought was interesting about the MBO’S is that once planted.. it allowed the farmers to spray weed killers over them and it would kill the weeds but not the crops. So the crops are resistant to commercial herbicides… and then we eat these plants/corns etc. So what is the long term effects? Who freaking knows…. and then Monsanto is pretty much taking over all the farms. In the end it’s all about profit and not nobody cares about health. If you get some kind of weird cancer, or have other problems.. you can just go to the doctor and they can stick you on some random pills.. that they don’t even know if they work right.

    Another thing I thought was crazy was the amount of corn we harvest here and feed to cattle, pigs, chickens, etc. We could damn near stop world hunger with all the corn we produce to feed mammals and make them grow as fast as possible so we can profit. We can even harvest it cheaper than Mexico of all places because of all the subsidies in place.

    I knew before I watched FOOD inc, I made the right decision to go Vegetarian… it just reinforced my decision and cemented it. I’m looking forward to seeing FOOD matters now.

  4. Michel says:

    My husband and I watched Food Inc at the beginning of the year. We now only buy grass fed beef from a farm. We are trying to go organic with our fruits and vegetables. I think Monsanto is the devil. The fact that we went from thousands of slaughterhouse’s to only 13 is horribly disgusting. Nothing from nature should be genetically altered. I can not go vegetarian but we are trying to change our eating habits.
    Michel recently posted..Weekly Weigh In and a recapMy Profile

    • Jason says:

      Thank you for stopping by and your comment. I don’t think everybody has to be a vegetarian but they do have to choose wisely. You have done that with your choice of beef. The other part of it is that people need to understand portion control as well.

      Eating grass fed beef by the pound won’t help but eating 4oz instead will.

      I am not a reformed vegetarian that syas my way is the only way and I just want to help educate people on their choices.

  5. Nora says:

    That movie changed my life! I can’t really afford grass fed beef for a family of 7 so I stick with chicken and fish mostly.
    Nora recently posted..Letting It GoMy Profile

  6. sun runner says:

    I had already switched to buying locally produced vegetables and meat before I read both “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and saw Food, Inc. I decided to unhitch myself as much as possible from big agribusiness and CAFO-produced meat about 4 years ago. That was prompted by reading “Fast Food Nation.”

    I am going to be in my fourth season as a shareholder in an organic CSA (vegetables) 7 miles from my house and I have been buying all of my pork, chicken, and eggs from a farm 5 miles from my house for three years. I rarely eat beef any more.

    I call them “my farmers” because I have a personal relationship with them. They know me by name. I think that’s almost as important as the food I buy from them. How many people today can say they’ve seen their vegetables growing in the ground or the chickens that lay their eggs scratching in the grass?
    sun runner recently posted..Youre Not Pinning This One On MeMy Profile

  7. katie says:

    Thanks for such a great discussion on these two movies. I haven’t seen either but I’ve seen/participated in enough discussion to really appreciate where my food comes from, and make better decisions about where I buy it.
    katie recently posted..week 5- im all drunk on itMy Profile

  8. Mandy says:

    I haven’t seen either but have read a lot of stuff about what these movies talk about. I struggle with this in the winter because of where I live, but in the summer I get all of my food from local farms (or grow my own)…well, I can’t get local avacados, but I get organic at least…which isn’t neccisarily not from one of the food giants. Scary stuff. Great post.
    Mandy recently posted..No One Ever Has Called Me StylishMy Profile

    • Jason says:

      It is crazy their tentacles are everywhere but if continue to buy locally that will eventually change things for the better. Patience and wisdom will win out.

  9. Raegun says:

    Great post, Jason. I loved both of thees movies – really made me more conscious of the choices I was making. If you haven’t read them already, you might really enjoy Michael Pollan’s books: In Defence of Food and The Omnivore’s Dilemma.
    Raegun recently posted..long overdueMy Profile

  10. Jen says:

    I did watch Food Inc and talk about an eye opening film. I will put the second one you mentioned on the list of things to watch.

    I try to really watch what I eat and take a lot into consideration – unfortunately, I’m not ready to go totally vegetarian, nor can we afford on our small budget to go totally organic on everything – we do strive to make the changes where we can.

    Some people dream of making more money for bigger homes, exotic vacations and fancy cars — I dream of it so I could really afford the luxury of eating the clean and organic way I’d like to. Slowly and surely I’m making the changes to get there.
    Jen recently posted..Not running really sucksMy Profile

    • Jason says:

      You can only do what you can do but if you make one small change at a time eventually it will all be changed. Patience is the key. Keep up the great work.

  11. lindsay says:

    i feel like monsanto has also made sure that any leftover seeds of theirs are destroyed so that farmers can’t make any sort of extra money. i don’t remember exactly… i’ve just not heard anything good about them and how they do business.

    i saw food, inc. it does make me want to watch what i eat… until i go to the store and my wallet starts aching. i should suck it up though, i can afford it (it just still hurts!). but health is a priority and i should start ‘voting’ with my money too.

    again, i need to quit being so lazy about my approach to eating/food/exercising/life in general… seriously dude, i am so lazy. about everything.
    lindsay recently posted..breaking newsMy Profile

    • Jason says:

      Don’t go all in. Do it on meal at a time and eventually you will have made more and more changes and eventually it will be priced into your wallet.

  12. I watched Food INC and was happy that I already eat organic meats after watching. I know it costs a little more, but the difference is worth it to me.
    Stephanie Anne recently posted..Home Base RaffleMy Profile

  13. Rae says:

    I’ve seen Food Inc but not Food Matters – I’ll definitely check that one out. I feel very badly for farmers; they are pretty much coerced into buying GMO seeds, and every year they have to buy them over and over. Before GMOs, farmers would plant a crop then be able to not only harvest produce from it, but also seeds for the next year. Now farmers can barely survive because not only are their crops being sold for negligible amounts, but also they have to spend exorbitant amounts on seed every year. Just like with many of the systems in the United States- this one is very much broken.

    I can’t say that I”m a vegetarian – or that I’ll ever commit to being one – but I am a Flexitarian. This means I eat meat, but not every day. In fact, I would say I eat meat about 3 times a week total, fish 1 to 2 times per week, and the rest of the time choose vegetarian options. For me, this works.

    I think that being a vegetarian, when done right, is a very healthy choice – not only for the person, but for the environment as well. However, I deem that some people may become vegetarian without knowing how to fuel their bodies appropriately. Many times people say their vegetarian but their diets consist of primarily junk food and carbs – with hardly any produce or protein. This is only concern I have for those making the leap to meatlessness.

    I’m going to recommend some books to you that I think you may enjoy:
    Food Fight by Kelly Brownell – I enjoy how this book doesn’t take side, it’s written by a professor (but is very readable) and is not wirtten in a lop-sided journalistic approach.
    Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser – Though this one is more of a journalistic approach, it’s written well and an interesting read.

    Of course the Pollan books are great reads; but these are some that came out first and are not as well-known.
    Rae recently posted..On a missionMy Profile

    • Jason says:

      Thank you so much for the information as I will be reading them very soon.

      I agree with you on becoming a vegetarian. It is not for everybody. It works for me but I do pay attention to my carbs, proteins and fats. it is a learning process that I continue to find new things about and I love that about this change in diet and perspective.

      • Rae says:

        Yeah – my biggest concern are the teenage girls who decide they want to go veg and all they eat is bread, cereal, and pasta!
        Rae recently posted..On a missionMy Profile

        • Jason says:

          Rae – Can you read Jennifer’s comment below and shed some light on your feelings? I am trying to educate myself and having two people from different perspectives will help me understand the situation better.

          Could be a situation where we have a debate on the site…..will contact you both.

  14. Jeff Irvin says:

    Gonna have to check these out! Thanks for posting.
    Jeff Irvin recently posted..My Bike Crash and Road Rash PicsMy Profile

  15. jennifer says:

    Hi Jason, good stuff. I echo Raegun’s recommendation of Omnivore’s Dilemma; I think you’d enjoy it. And I actually know a bit too much about Monsanto; they were a client of mine for 9 months. I have since left that consulting firm and started my own sustainability practice so that I can choose my own clients :-).

    I disagree with Rae; farmers do have a choice. They absolutely can buy traditional seed with no associated patents. But conventional seed doesn’t produce as much yield, so they don’t make as much money. They actually make more using GMO seed, and it’s easier to farm with it. Which is why GMO is proliferating. One positive note, corn for human consumption is never GMO.

    A few fun facts: do you know the head of the FDA who approved GMO with virtually no investigation? Yep, the head of the FDA was the former legal counsel for Monsanto. Another revolving door involved the woman who invented bovine growth hormone at Monsanto who quit, joined the FDA and approved her own submission. Interesting stuff, all public, but most people don’t know about it.

    What makes this a conundrum is that we will likely not solve for global food security without GMO at present. No easy answers on this topic. I won’t knowingly eat it… but GMO is better than nothing for starving people.
    jennifer recently posted..The run that almost wasntMy Profile

    • Jason says:

      Jennifer – Thank you so much for your comments. They are always welcomed as they are educational and spark thought.

      The reality of those lobbying and then working for that same gov’t dept is unfortunately not the first nor last it will happen. The financial mess that we are in can be traced to that as well. It is bananas but people either don’t seem to care/know or are just accepting. I am not one to just accept without thinking about and questioning and now it is time to do something about it as well. I will be writing my congress people this week to inform them about my thoughts on having more farm to table farmers getting more knowledge on GMOs and Monsanto

      Can you inform me more on your thoughts about farmers and their GMO usage? I am very interested in this as Nora asked me this question last week and I’ trying to find out more about it and educate myself.

  16. Joseph Kellum says:

    Also watch Forks Over Knives. It’s a great movie on a similar subject.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mandy Farrar, cooktraineatrce. cooktraineatrce said: Food, Inc. and Food Matters Review Do you care about what you eat? How about how it got there? […]

  2. […] I would put this movie in the same category as Food Inc and Food Matters, which I reviewed [HERE]  All three are informative without hitting you over the head and telling you that what you are […]

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