Archive for the ‘World Hunger’ Category

Fast Food Nation

Last night I had the extreme pleasure of viewing the movie Fast Food Nation for the very first time. Let me tell you, if you haven’t seen this movie, you must! I was only a tad reluctant because the movie got very mixed reviews. Many of the reviews I read on my beloved Netflix were terrible. People we’re complaining that the movie should have been made into a documentary instead but I disagree. I thought the movie was well made. In defense, the way I see it is that not many people enjoy documentaries. I in fact, love them, but I know that many people find them to be boring, slow, long, etc. Therefore taking the matter of slaughterhouses, the fast food industry, the meat industry, immigration and activism and putting it into a fictional plot seems like a good idea to me. I find that people who cannot bear to sit and watch documentaries can watch a movie that has a plot, storyline and characters that they can identify with.

For anyone who hasn’t seen the movie, it is a movie following a few different people’s lives who are all somehow affected by the meat/fast food industry. We follow around a business man who works for Mickey’s, a fast food chain, a high school girl who works at Mickey’s while becoming friends with college activists, and an illegal immigrant couple who come to America and end up working at Mickey’s beef supplier. It stars many people, including Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Wilmar Valderama, Avril Lavinge and Bruce Willis.

For whomever out there that wants to see this movie in documentary form, there is a version, called Food, Inc. This documentary is great, and was one of the first movies I saw that really concreted my decision of giving up meat. It shows you a behind the scenes look at slaughterhouses, worker conditions for immigrants and nonimmigrants, and also describes all the preservatives and hormones that you are consuming when you eat industrialized meat.

The book that both films are based off of is New York Time’s bestseller, Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. The book takes you behind the scenes to what we are really eating when we eat beef from our favorite fast food restaurants. It goes into detail about the “flavorings” that make our beef taste “cajun” or “smoked,” shows us what ingredients are in our foods, where our food comes from, and who touches our food before it gets to us. There are insights, interviews, and so much more…I love it. Because of this book, which I read many years ago, I no longer consume McDonald’s strawberry milkshake-it has over 30 ingredients and 50% of them are chemicals. Yum!

For anyone who either doesn’t have the time or patience for reading Fast Food Nation, Schlosser (along with Charles Wilson) wrote a second book, called Chew on This, which is a tamer, shorter version of Fast Food Nation. It was made to aim at teenagers and younger people, but with the same concept-to educate people on the fast food industry. I have yet to read this but plan on doing so soon.

So in conclusion, I have to recommend both films, the fictional Fast Food Nation and the documentary Food, inc. Both will broaden your horizon and knowledge on the meat and fast food industry. I feel better just knowing where meat comes from, and it helps me remember why I don’t consume it. For anyone who is reluctant because they do want to consume meat, don’t fret, just go organic. Food, Inc. will show you how a chicken is killed in a slaughterhouse versus how they are killed on a local farm. Good stuff folks.

Peace!

Other good, similar films to check out:

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Veggies Can Feed the World

One of the most depressing things to me is waste. I’m a huge advocate of recycling, reusing, and leftovers. I don’t like seeing things wasted, ever. Although I am liberal in almost all parts of my life, I am very conservative with my money-which also aids me in my ability to never waste. I don’t like to see unused water go down the drain, food go uneaten, jars in the garbage, paper not being reused, etc. So of course it kills me that we are a country of completeexcess and waste. We have more than we could ever need or want, yet we want more, need more, and certainly waste a whole lot more. While we waste there are other places in our world that do not even have enough of what they need, and never see what they want. It depresses me all the time. Especially when I think of my parents who didn’t grow up in America, in particular my dad, who never owned a pair of shoes in his youth or tasted dessert. One of the reasons why I am a vegetarian is because I think its one step closer to solving world hunger. Yes, I am aware I myself am not changing the world, but I like to think that the more of us that become vegetarians, the more our country can start growing crops for the right reason, like feeding people. Jim Motavelli from The Environmental Magazine  has said, “The 4.8 pounds of grain fed to cattle to produce one pound of beef for human beings represents a colossal waste of resources in a world still teeming with people who suffer from profound hunger and malnutrition.” Now take a look at these horrific numbers that I found the other day from Diet for a New America, by John Robins.

• Human population of United States: 270,000,000 (and counting)

• Number of human beings who could be fed by the grain and soybeans eaten by U.S. livestock: 1,300,000,000

• Percentage of corn grown in United States eaten by human beings: 20%

• Percentage of corn grown in United States eaten by livestock: 80%

• How frequently a child dies of starvation: Every 2.3 seconds

• Pounds of potatoes that can be grown on 1 acre of land: 20,000

• Pounds of beef that can be produced on 1 acre of land: 165

• Percentage of U.S. agricultural land used to produce beef: 56

• Number of children who starve to death every day: 38,000

• Number of people who could be adequately fed if Americans reduced their intake of meat by 10%: 100,000,000

• Amount of meat eaten by average person in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and Panama: Less than the average American house cat

• Water needed to produce 1 pound of wheat: 25 gallons

• Water needed to produce 1 pound of meat: 2,500

Seriously. These numbers depress me! We are stuffing our faces, overeating meat that will give us cancer and other health issues while there are others who do not have enough to eat at all.

Another thing I want to touch on is that I know a lot of people will read these numbers and go “Okay, I kind of see the connection. But there’s no proof that meat is really a reason why people are starving.” Well, I would consider that, since I’m open minded, but the facts are hard to ignore. Jeremy Rifkin, president of the Foundation on Economic Trends in Washington, DC, stated that during the Ethiopian famine in 1984, “While people starved, Ethiopia was growing linseed cake, cottonseed cake and rapeseed meal for European livestock. Millions of acres of land in the developing world are used for this purpose. Tragically, 80 percent of the world’s hungry children live in countries with food surpluses which are fed to animals for consumption by the affluent.”

And to see that everyone could eat if we all gave up meat, or at least consumed less of it, is sad because not enough people will give up meat. Why have we become so meat obsessed? Like Steve Spielberg has said “Humans are the only race that hunts when not hungry.” So wasteful, it makes me want to cry. Especially since we are doing something so greedy, so wasteful, so unhealthy and hurting animals in the process. And I am no animal person, and many people aren’t…however I don’t know too many people who would turn their backs on a hungry child. So why don’t we all do our part and reduce our meat intake and help feed the rest of the world? I’ve already talked about it over and over…going veggie for your health, for the animals, the environment…but if you don’t care about any of those, can you at least do it for the people out there who are going to go to bed hungry tonight?

Peace.