Food, Inc. – Wikipedia

2008 American film

Food, Inc. is a 2008 American documentary film directed by filmmaker Robert Kenner.[4] The film examines corporate farming in the United States, concluding that agribusiness produces food that is unhealthy, in a way that is environmentally harmful and abusive of both animals and employees. The film is narrated by Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser.[5][6]

The film received positive responses and was nominated for several awards, including the Academy Award and the Independent Spirit Awards in 2009, both for Best Documentary Feature.


The film’s first segment examines the industrial production of meat (chicken, beef, and pork), calling it inhumane and economically and environmentally unsustainable. The second segment looks at the industrial production of grains and vegetables (primarily corn and soy beans), again labeling this economically and environmentally unsustainable. The film’s third and final segment is about the economic and legal power, such as food labeling regulations, of the major food companies, the profits of which are based on supplying cheap but contaminated food, the heavy use of petroleum-based chemicals (largely pesticides and fertilizers), and the promotion of unhealthy food consumption habits by the American public.[4][7]
It shows companies like Wal-Mart transitioning towards organic foods as evidence that the industry is booming in the recent health movement.



Michael Pollan was a consultant and appears in the film. Eric Schlosser co-produced and appears in the film. Participant Media was the production company.[4] The film took three years to make.[8][9] Director Kenner claims that he spent large amounts of his budget on legal fees to try to protect himself against lawsuits from industrial food producers, pesticide and fertilizer manufacturers, and other companies criticized in the film.[8]

An extensive marketing campaign was undertaken to promote the film. A companion book of the same name was released in May 2009.[6][10][11]Stonyfield Farm, an organic yogurt maker located in New Hampshire, promoted the film by printing information about it on the foil lids of 10 million cups of its yogurt in June 2009.[12][13]

Releases and box office[edit]

The film was shown as a preview at the True/False Film Festival in Columbia, Missouri, in February 2009.[14] It also screened at several film festivals in the spring before opening commercially in the United States on June 12, 2009, in New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.[7][15] It made $61,400 in its first week.[16] It expanded to an additional 51 theaters in large cities in the U.S. and Canada on June 19.[7][11][15][17][18] It made an additional $280,000 its second weekend.[17]

The film was due to be released in the United Kingdom in the summer of 2009;[19] however, its release was postponed until 12 February 2010.[20]


The producers invited on-screen rebuttals from Monsanto Company, Tyson Foods, Smithfield Foods, Perdue Farms, and other companies, but all declined the invitation.[15][21][22] Monsanto says it invited the filmmakers to a producers’ trade show,[23] but they claimed that they were denied press credentials at the event, and were not permitted to attend. An alliance of food production companies (led by the American Meat Institute) created a website,, in response to the claims made in the film.[7][11][21][24] Monsanto also established its own website to specifically respond to the film’s claims about that company’s products and actions.[4][22][25]Cargill told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the company welcomed “differing viewpoints on how global agriculture can affordably nourish the world while minimizing environmental impact, ensuring food safety, guaranteeing food accessibility and providing meaningful work in agricultural communities.” But the company criticized the film’s “‘one-size-fits-all’ answers to a task as complex as nourishing 6 billion people who are so disparately situated across the world.”[26]

Fast-food chain Chipotle responded to the documentary in July 2009 by offering free screenings of it at various locations nationwide and stating that it does things differently, which it hopes customers will appreciate after seeing Food, Inc.[27]

The film’s director, Robert Kenner, has denied attacking the current system of producing food, noting in one interview: “All we want is transparency and a good conversation about these things.” In the same interview, he went on to say, “…the whole system is made possible by government subsidies to a few huge crops like corn. It’s a form of socialism that’s making us sick.”[28]

Critical reception[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 95% based on 114 reviews, with an average rating of 7.77/10. The website’s critical consensus reads, “An eye-opening expose of the modern food industry, Food, Inc. is both fascinating and terrifying, and essential viewing for any health-conscious citizen.”[29] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 80 out of 100, based on 28 critics, indicating “generally favorable reviews”.[30]

The Staten Island Advance called the documentary “excellent” and “sobering”, concluding: “Documentaries work when they illuminate, when they alter how we think, which renders Food, Inc. a solid success, and a must-see.”[31] The Toronto Sun called it “terrifying” and “frankly riveting”.[18] The San Francisco Examiner was equally positive, calling the film “visually stylish” and “One of the year’s most important films…”[32] The paper called the picture’s approach to its controversial subject matter “a dispassionate appeal to common sense” and applauded its “painstaking research and thoughtful, evenhanded commentary…”[32]

The Los Angeles Times, too, praised Food, Inc.’s cinematography, and called the film “eloquent” and “essential viewing.”[33] The Montreal Gazette noted that despite the film’s focus on American food manufacture, the film is worth viewing by anyone living in a country where large-scale food production occurs.[6] The paper’s reviewer declared Food, Inc. “must-see”, but also cautioned that some of the scenes are “not for the faint of heart”.[6]

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted that other documentaries and books have examined similar issues before; however, the film was still worth seeing: “The food-conglomerate angle was covered in a less-ambitious documentary called King Corn, and a more-ambitious documentary called The Corporation touched on the menace of the multinationals; but this one hits the sweet spot, and it does it with style.”[34] The review concluded that the most powerful portion of the film focused on Monsanto’s pursuit of legal action against farmers it accuses of improperly saving and reselling or replanting Monsanto’s patented seed, in violation of a signed stewardship agreement and contract not to save and resell or replant seeds produced from the crops they grow from Monsanto seed.[25][34]

The Environmental Blog sympathized with the film’s message and urged viewers to “vote to change this system,”[35] but other reviews have not been as positive. A commentator at Forbes magazine found the film compelling but incomplete. The picture, the reviewer found, “fails to address how we might feed the country—or world” on the sustainable agriculture model advocated by the filmmakers, and that it failed to address critical issues of cost and access.[23] A reviewer for The Washington Times said the movie was “hamstrung” because few corporate executives wished to be interviewed by those documentarians, although the reviewer agreed that the film was aiming for balance.[36]

The film tied for fourth place as best documentary at the 35th Seattle International Film Festival.[37]

The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature Film at the 82nd Academy Awards,[38] but lost to The Cove.

See also[edit]

  • A Place at the Table (2012), documentary film
  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (2007), nonfiction book by Barbara Kingsolver
  • Food Matters (2008), documentary film about nutrition
  • Taste the Waste (2010), documentary film written and directed by Valentin Thurn[39]
  • The Future of Food (2004), documentary film
  • The Jungle (1906), novel exploring the American meat-packing industry, by Upton Sinclair
  • Fast Food Nation (2001), nonfiction book by Eric Schlosser
  • What the Health (2017), a film which critiques the health impact of meat, fish, eggs and dairy products consumption


  1. ^ Food Inc. (PG)”. British Board of Film Classification. January 13, 2010. Archived from the original on October 20, 2016. Retrieved August 22, 2016.
  2. ^ Box Office Information for Food, Inc. The Wrap. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
  3. ^ “Food, Inc.” February 27, 2010. Archived November 16, 2018, at the Wayback Machine Accessed 2009-02-27.
  4. ^ a b c d Severson, Kim. “Eat, Drink, Think, Change.” Archived December 5, 2017, at the Wayback Machine The New York Times. June 3, 2009.
  5. ^ Biancolli, Amy. “Review: ‘Food, Inc.’ Not for the Squeamish.” Archived June 19, 2009, at the Wayback Machine San Francisco Chronicle. June 12, 2009.
  6. ^ a b c d Chesterman, Lesley. “A Film That Will Make You Think Before You Eat.” Archived June 23, 2009, at the Wayback Machine Montreal Gazette. June 20, 2009.
  7. ^ a b c d “New Film Offers Troubling View of US Food Industry.” Associated Press. June 7, 2009.
  8. ^ a b Simmons, Krista. “What Really Goes Into the Bag: Behind the Movie ‘Food, Inc.’.” Archived June 11, 2009, at the Wayback Machine Los Angeles Times. June 7, 2009.
  9. ^ There is some dispute as to how long the film was in production. In another interview, director Robert Kenner claims the film took six years to make. See: Math, Mara. “The Right to Know About What We Eat.” Archived June 16, 2009, at the Wayback Machine San Francisco Examiner. June 11, 2009.
  10. ^ Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food Is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer—And What You Can Do About It. Karl Weber, ed. New York: PublicAffairs, 2009. ISBN 1-58648-694-2
  11. ^ a b c Levine, Allen. “Little Ag vs. Big Ag? Best Bet On Both.” Archived March 5, 2012, at the Wayback Machine St. Paul Pioneer Press. June 18, 2009.
  12. ^ “‘Food, Inc.’ Gets Promo on Yogurt Lids.” Archived June 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine The Hollywood Reporter. June 11, 2009.
  13. ^ Marrero, Diana. “Sensenbrenner Cow Tax Fears Come Out of Thin Air.” Archived January 20, 2010, at the Wayback Machine Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. June 13, 2009.
  14. ^ “Food, Inc.” True/False Film Festival. No date. Accessed 2009-07-31. Archived March 14, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ a b c Deardorff, Julie. “Food, Inc.: How Factory Farming Affects You.” Archived June 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine Chicago Tribune. June 12, 2009.
  16. ^ “Good Buzz Wins Out As ‘Hangover,’ ‘Up’ Dominate Box Office Once Again.” Archived June 30, 2009, at the Wayback Machine Los Angeles Times. June 14, 2009; Germain, David. “‘Hangover’ Hangs On As No. 1 Movie With $33.4M.” Archived May 13, 2022, at the Wayback Machine Associated Press. June 14, 2009.
  17. ^ a b Kilday, Gregg. “‘Proposal’ Accepted at the Box Office.” Archived January 31, 2010, at the Wayback Machine The Hollywood Reporter. June 21, 2009.
  18. ^ a b Braun, Liz. “You’ll Choke On This Info.” Archived June 7, 2011, at the Wayback Machine Toronto Sun. June 19, 2009.
  19. ^ Rayner, Jay. “Food Is the New Fur for the Celebrity With a Conscience.” Archived March 13, 2017, at the Wayback Machine The Observer. June 14, 2009.
  20. ^ “UK Film release schedule – past, present and future”. 2009. Archived from the original on December 31, 2010. Retrieved November 10, 2009.
  21. ^ a b Kearney, Christine. “Film Aims to Expose Dangers in U.S. Food Industry.” Archived February 12, 2021, at the Wayback Machine Reuters. June 9, 2009.
  22. ^ a b Gustin, Georgina. “‘Food, Inc.’ Chews Up Monsanto, Agribusiness Cousins.”[permanent dead link]St. Louis Post-Dispatch. June 26, 2009.
  23. ^ a b Ruiz, Rebecca. “What Food Activists Ignore.” Archived October 16, 2017, at the Wayback Machine Forbes. June 11, 2009.
  24. ^ “Web Site Takes on ‘Food Inc’.” Pork Magazine. June 12, 2009 Archived June 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine; Levin, Ann. “‘Food Inc.’ Has Sickening View of Food Industry.”[permanent dead link]Associated Press. June 21, 2009.
  25. ^ a b Monsanto site about the movie Food, Inc. Archived November 18, 2014, at the Wayback Machine Accessed 2009-06-07.
  26. ^ “Cargill’s Response to ‘Food Inc.’.” Archived February 1, 2010, at the Wayback Machine Minneapolis Star Tribune. June 20, 2009.
  27. ^ “Free Food – Food, Inc., That Is”. July 9, 2009. Archived from the original on October 7, 2017. Retrieved July 12, 2009.
  28. ^ Birdsall, John. “A Conversation with ‘Food, Inc.’ Director Robert Kenner.” Archived June 16, 2009, at the Wayback Machine San Francisco Weekly. June 12, 2009.
  29. ^ “Food, Inc. (2009)” Archived February 11, 2010, at the Wayback Machine Accessed 2010-11-30.
  30. ^ “Food, Inc.” No date. Archived May 13, 2022, at the Wayback Machine Accessed 2009-11-19.
  31. ^ Hill, Todd. “‘Food, Inc.,’ ‘Moon’ Top This Week’s Alternatives to Mainstream Movies.” Archived June 17, 2009, at the Wayback Machine Staten Island Advance. June 12, 2009.
  32. ^ a b “Drake, Rossiter. “Here’s Why Food Is Factory Fresh.” San Francisco Examiner. June 12, 2009″. Archived from the original on June 14, 2009. Retrieved June 13, 2009.
  33. ^ “Goldstein, Gary. “Movie Review: ‘Food, Inc.'” Los Angeles Times. June 12, 2009″. Archived from the original on June 16, 2009. Retrieved June 13, 2009.
  34. ^ a b Williams, Joe. “‘Food, Inc.'” Archived July 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine St. Louis Post-Dispatch. June 26, 2009.
  35. ^ Food Inc Review Archived October 26, 2011, at the Wayback Machine – The Environmental Blog
  36. ^ Bunch, Sonny. “Moore Worry Haunts Cinema.” Archived June 22, 2009, at the Wayback Machine The Washington Times. June 19, 2009.
  37. ^ Kilday, Gregg. “Seattle Fest Announces Winners.” Archived June 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine The Hollywood Reporter. June 14, 2009.
  38. ^ “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on February 6, 2010. Retrieved November 11, 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  39. ^ Taste the Waste at”. Archived from the original on December 1, 2015. Retrieved April 10, 2014.

External links[edit]