"Food, Inc.": Where Do You Go From Here?

In November, the University held a screening of Food, Inc., a documentary that “reveals surprising and often shocking truths” about where our food comes from and how it’s produced.  

Directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Robert Kenner, this 2008 documentary uses reports by Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser and The Omnivore’s Dilemma author Michael Pollan to look at the growth of factory farming, lack of federal regulation, amount of processed foods, and the rising rates of chronic disease.

Abby Cocke of the Baltimore Office of Sustainability led the post-movie discussion about food security and urban agriculture in Baltimore. The event was sponsored by the Wellness Hub and UMB Go Green.

If you missed the screening or would like a refresher course, test your knowledge with the following true/false statements based on Food, Inc. facts:

True or False

  1. The modern supermarket stocks, on average, 47,000 products, most of which are being produced by only a handful of food companies.
  2. In the 1970s, the top five beef packers controlled about 25 percent of the market. Today, the top four control more than 80 percent of the market.
  3. The average American eats more than 20 pounds of meat per year.
  4. The average chicken farmer (with two poultry houses) invests more than $500,000 and makes only $18,000 a year.
  5. In 1972, the FDA conducted 50,000 food safety inspections. In 2006, the FDA conducted 75,000.
  6. E. coli and salmonella outbreaks have become more frequent in America. In 2007, there were 73,000 people sickened by the E. coli bacteria.
  7. According to Kevin’s Law, the USDA could shut down plants that repeatedly produced contaminated meat. After being taken to court by the meat and poultry associations, the USDA still has this power.
  8. Before renaming itself an agribusiness company, Monsanto was a chemical company that produced, among other things, DDT and Agent Orange.
  9. About 10 percent of processed foods have some genetically modified ingredient.
  10. Organics are the fastest growing food area, increasing 20 percent annually.
  11. According to the American Diabetes Association, one in 10 Americans born after 2000 will contract early onset diabetes.

Quiz Answers

Food, Inc. suggests voting with your choices. Here are some ways you can improve your health and demand changes within our current food system:

  • Read food labels — make it a point to know where your food comes from.
  • Buy organic or sustainable foods with little to no pesticide use.
  • Drink fewer sodas and sweetened beverages and consume fewer processed foods.
  • Go meatless at least one day a week; for recipes, visit
  • Protect family farms by visiting your local farmers market.
  • Tell your lawmakers that food safety is important to you.

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