One brilliant element among many in “Food, Inc.” was the segment of Eric Schlosser biting into a burger with fries. That kind of too-up-close-and-personal scene usually makes me gag (I’d almost rather watch food come out the other end), but it sent a message for the rest of the 90-some minutes: No one is saying you have to give up the freedom food. You just have to give a damn where it comes from. Which I hope finally ends the argument I have had with friends who think I’m ridiculous for resisting whole roast chicken for $10 in a restaurant when I pay more than that for a raw one for my consort and cat. If you calculate 30 percent food costs, you’re talking feet up, feathers in manure.
My second favorite scene was the one of Joel Salatin interviewed as his pigs porked out. After all that had come before, it slowly sinks in that he is lounging next to pigs, and no one is wearing a mask or gagging for air. Raised right, even the filthiest animals are bearable. Which of course got me thinking about a long-ago trip to Paris, one of my consort’s unlamented corporate boondoggles, when the boss’s wife commented on the second or third day: “It smells different in the bathroom here.” No shit. Garbage in, garbage out. I’m not going to romanticize the French, but a country with street markets and seasons and small farms is on the right track. With luck, even its growing love affair with le fast food will not end tragically. The villains can still reform.