Monday, February 6, 2012

"American Meat"

This afternoon My Farmer and I went to our local high school for a screening and discussion of the documentary film American Meat.  We were asked to be on a panel discussion with other local farmers, a representative from Niman Ranch, our County Youth Coordinator from Extension, and our local veterinarian.  The entire school body of grades 7-12, three other area FFA chapters and members of the public were in attendance, totaling around 200 people.


American Meat is a documentary film that looks at meat production in the United States, mainly focusing on pork and poultry production.  I went into the screening preparing myself to see an updated Food Inc. film.  While yes, there was a strong support and bias towards grass-fed meat production, the film didn't actively discount modern meat production, or as the film liked to refer to it as - commodity production.  I believe there was some mis-information in the film about modern agriculture as it referred to subsidies, animal health, taste of product, farmer's income and reasons for small towns disappearing.

Originally, like I stated earlier, we were suppose to be on a panel discussion following the film; instead we split up the audience into small groups and discussed a series of questions posed by the director of the film, Graham Meriwether:

  • Do you know anyone that has lost a farm?
  • Why are small towns disappearing?
  • What are the advantages of commodity agriculture?
  • What are the disadvantages of commodity agriculture?
  • How does the egg mobile (an invention by Joel Salatin) work?
  • What are the advantages of grass-based farms?
  • What are the disadvantages of grass-based farms?

The small group I talked with was a group of seniors and juniors in high school.  None of them knew of anyone that had lost a farm.  They believed small towns were disappearing due to lack of jobs, which I believe is true and because peoples habits are changing - such as distance they are willing to drive.  I believe the film made an image that the reason small towns are disappearing was entirely due to "big ag."  The group said the advantages of modern agriculture were that a large number of animals are able to be produced at a cheap price.  The disadvantage the group thought, based on the film, was that animals were sick and it is making farmers poor - both things I disagree with and I explained why to them.  The concept of the egg mobile is that you bring a group of chickens out to a paddock that just had cattle on it.  The chickens are able to eat the bugs and insects in the manure from the cow.  The manure then gives nutrients to the pasture, that then the cattle go back and rotate on to eat the grass and make manure - restarting the cycle.  I explained to my group that we have the same cycle with our confinement barns.  The pigs make manure, the manure is spread onto fields, the corn benefits from the manure, the corn is fed to the pigs, and the cycle continues.  The group decided the advantages of grass-based farms was that the animals were healthier, the food tasted better and was of higher quality, which they would have gotten the sense of from the film.  The disadvantage of grass-based farms they saw was that not enough people were doing it, which I believe was a main goal of the film.  When discussing these last two questions with the group I reinstated with them that we get safe and high-quality products from all types of production.  I also talked about how the market will dictate the ways of farming.  The one issue that I couldn't convince them was untrue was the taste; they all believed without a doubt that grass-fed animals tasted better.

Overall, I am happy that I was able to be there today to correct some of the mis-truths of the film, but at the same time, I'm worried what information each small group had during the discussion time.  I was amazed how even "farm kids" were accepting of all the information and views in the film.  I also find it interesting that this film is being promoted through FFA in Iowa.  I talked with Graham after the film and he said he is on a 40 site viewing schedule with FFA chapters and education institutes.  His next project is a documentary on young farmers.

In the end, the United States is a great place because it offers consumers choices and this film showed different choices available.  And as of now, the United States pretty much allows you to make choices on how you raise animals on your farm.  In the United States we are lucky to have such an abundant, safe, consistent and high quality food supply.  I am happy that there was respect between everyone in attendance, despite differing views.  To check if a screening of American Meat is coming to your local area, check the film's website's screenings schedule.

33 comments:

  1. I enjoy your blog! I have a blog and was hoping to write about our farm, but it's been really hard to keep up with and, I don't want anything I write to come out 'wrong.' I'm glad you are part of the industry and know what the 'real' situation is out on our farms!!

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  5. I highly recommend American meat to anyone who appreciates high-quality, delicious meat. The quality was outstanding, and you could tell that a lot of care and attention went into the preparation.

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    "American Meat" is a captivating documentary that offers an eye-opening exploration of America's complex food system. The film offers a diverse perspective on farming methods, highlighting the importance of sustainable practices and their potential benefits for health, the environment, and animal welfare. It advocates for food chain transparency, environmental impact, ethical dilemmas in meat production, and practical solutions for a more sustainable and humane food system. The documentary is well-researched, with engaging visuals and storytelling. It leaves viewers with plenty of food for thought, inspiring discussions about consumer choices. The film has the potential to spark positive change in the way we view and consume food. Overall, "American Meat" is a must-see for anyone interested in the food they eat and the impact of their choices on the world around them.

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    "American Meat" is a documentary that delves into the complex world of meat production and consumption in the United States. It is a wake-up call to the reality of our food system, an insightful exploration of the meat industry, and a must-watch for those concerned about sustainable agriculture. The film challenges us to think about where our meat comes from, offers an engaging and informative look at the future of American farming, and successfully bridges the gap between farmers and consumers. It offers solutions to the problems it exposes, and its incredible storytelling keeps viewers engaged throughout. The film critiques factory farming practices and offers hope for a more sustainable food system. It is well-researched and thoughtfully presented, making it a compelling call to action for responsible meat consumption. The film humanizes farmers and their struggles in an industrialized world, and encourages mindful meat consumption. "American Meat" leaves viewers with a newfound awareness of the meat industry and inspires informed choices about their food.

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  11. Wow, what an eye-opening post about American meat! As a conscious consumer, I've always been interested in understanding where my food comes from and the impact it has on the environment. Your article provided valuable insights into the meat industry in America.
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    Thank you for shedding light on this important issue. I'm inspired to take action by supporting sustainable practices and spreading awareness among my friends and family. Keep up the great work!

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  16. The screening and discussion of "American Meat" was insightful and engaging, as the panelists addressed misconceptions and presented balanced perspectives on modern agricultural practices. The film is being promoted through FFA chapters and educational institutes, indicating a growing interest in understanding various agricultural methods among students. Graham's initiative to tour different sites with the film and his upcoming project on young farmers is an excellent continuation of this educational journey. The film showcases the diversity of choices in the agricultural industry in the United States, allowing consumers to make informed choices about their food consumption. The film emphasizes the abundance, safety, consistency, and high quality of the food supply in the US. Respecting differing viewpoints despite disagreements is crucial in discussions about agriculture and food production, leading to better understanding and appreciation of various farming methods. Engaging in discussions and offering insights into the complexities of farming practices contributes to a more informed public discourse about food production. Estatuto de Limitaciones de Lesiones Personales de Virginia

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