It’s likely we’ve all seen Food Inc or heard about Food Matters but otherwise don’t feel the need to stay up to date with the various morally taxing food documentaries that have been released in the past couple of years. Farmageddon is one of these disturbingly eye-opening documentaries. The name does not inspire much hope for our damaged food system.
It begins as a story of a concerned mother whose son suffers from many allergies and asthma. She begins giving him raw milk to drink and after drinking it regularly, he is cured of all his ailments. For reference, raw milk is milk that has been unpasteurized, unhomogenized and unprocessed in any way from cow to container. It has become more and more popular as people seek less refined and more “natural” food. Raw milk is often recognized for its health benefits which result from the myriad of good bacteria and other natural elements found in cow’s milk. This concerned mother who values raw milk so highly is Kristen Canty, and she set out to make Farmageddon in order to bring attention to the injustice and obstacles small farmers face in their humble attempts to provide wholesome food, especially raw milk, to their consumers.
“I decided I needed to tell this story. My goal was to let these honest farmers using centuries old farming practices tell their side of the stories. So, I set out to make a film. Farmageddon is in no way meant to convince anyone to drink raw milk, or eat grass fed beef, but rather an argument to allow those that want to make those choices to do so. It is simply about freedom of food choice.”
The movie’s focus is tuned towards the farms that provide their customers with raw milk, or at least attempt to. Small farms are subject to the same laws and regulations that govern large farms which disregard the difference in production and product. This leads to unwarranted inspections and seizures by government officials, often on repeated occasions, that humiliate and disrespect the farmer and their families. It sucks. This movie is depressing. Do not watch this unless you are willing to cry when a family’s whole flock of carefully inspected and tested imported sheep are taken away and killed for fear of them having mad cow disease (they didn’t have even a trace in samples tested afterwards). And mad cow disease in sheep? Come on.
Farmageddon is not an unbiased piece of journalistic investigation; it is a fair and desperate plea for us to pay attention and respect to small farmers on both political and personal levels. It is meant to provoke us to care. What happens to these real families who are trying to live real lives that are interrupted by very real faults on behalf of the government is sad.
Government regulation is, undoubtedly important, as it reformed a corrupt food system in the early 1900s when milk was adulterated and hot dogs were the scariest things ever (not that they sometimes still aren’t, but less so). However, it is no longer the early 1900s and we have honest people trying to produce honest food that is accessible to those who want it.
The way we regulate food production needs to change. We are supposed to be the ones who have the power to change it. Watch this movie if you want an inspirational kick in the shin.