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During a meal on an average day, do you think about how the chicken in your chicken parmigian was raised and slaughtered? Whether or not it lived a comfortable life? Do you think about the fruit you eat and whether it was raised organically or using GMOs?

Personally, I don’t think about any of these things. In fact, I try not to think about the details of how my meat got to my plate because it just makes me sad and nauseous. But I enjoy meat too much to give it up.

While Food Inc., shed light on several ethical misdeeds committed by the modern day food industry, such as the frightening tactics the food industry employs to prevent people from knowing the true origins of food or the widespread use of chemicals and hormones, it also appears to be a bit of a propaganda to force the public into vegetarianism and being environmental activists. By showing you all the stuff you don’t want to know about your food they claim to hope you will be inspired to eat healthier and greener, but how do they achieve this goal for the members of the audience who are already wealthy and educated enough to know to eat better than fast food?

They use what I call the Gross-Out and Guilt factors. By showing you cute little animals roaming in a field and telling you how miserable their lives are, and then showing a farmer slitting a chicken’s throat, they are inherently trying to make you either feel so guilty or so repulsed that you will stop eating chicken.

They point out the horrible conditions that most of the livestock face and then mention how almost all of the animals that become food are raised like this. So you have that twinge of guilt but there doesn’t seem to be a viable alternative unless you raise farm animals yourself or cut meat out of your diet altogether.

My questions for discussion therefore are:
How will watching Food Inc change the way you eat, if at all? Should the world stop consuming any food that has any impact on the welfare of any animals and/or the environment? And finally, is there really a viable option to do otherwise?

3 Responses to “The Guilt and Gross Out Factors”

  1. jkorn says:

    In some ways I agree that the film tried to pull on the viewers emotions and guilt but I think overall Food Inc. made very viable and just points that they weren’t just making up to make us all vegetarians. I think their message was much larger than that. The creator of the film himself was shown eating a burger and fries and proclaimed it was his favorite meal! I think that this film did definitely gross me out and I probably wont eat meat for a while. But, I dont think Food Inc was trying to make us vegetarians but more that they were trying to get the message out to the public that these things happen behind closed doors. The public wasn’t really getting the proper information on slaughter houses and the awful conditions of the workers as well.

  2. kirho says:

    I agree with you that they really did put a lot of emphasis on the guilt and gross factors, but I’m not entirely sure that it is for the purpose of converting people to vegetarianism and environmentalism. I just think they wanted people to be aware of what is going on behind the scenes and be a little more conscious about the food you consume. Your point about the guilt and gross out factors brings up one problem I had with the movie, which was an unbalanced argument. Yes, all the content in the movie is very good, convincing evidence, and I definitely support this cause, but what about the other side of the argument? Throughout the movie I was curious about what the corporate side had to say. Granted, they all declined to interview, but I still wanted some insight into what they thought they were doing for society or maybe how society has benefited from their actions.

  3. Amandalk@umich.edu says:

    I completely agree that the documentary Food Inc. used the “Gross-out” and “Guilt factors” to show people why they should stop eating meat. I personally already don’t eat red meat, and also have a very hard time eating meat if it is attached to a visible bone. Because of this, there were many times where I had to cover my eyes because I was so grossed out to what was going on in the film and could not believe what actually goes on behind the veil. One of the parts that truly made me feel the worst, and most guilty, was when the working women took a little baby chick one by one, grabbed them, and stamped their face with a sort of green ink. This to me was terrible – looking at these little baby chickens who have no idea what is going to come next, who have no life at all, and who are about to be eaten. I think it is very good that this film is shown to the public in some ways but not others. It definitely shows what is going on behind the veil, as well as gets many people to stop eating meat because of the way the animals are treated and made. What I do not like about this video though, is how it makes you see things and learn things that you may not want to know – I preferably did not want to see many scenes of the live animals being slaughtered.

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