In an attempt to convince my boyfriend to buy expensive organic chicken instead of cheap battery meat, I borrowed a DVD at the library: a documentary about the food industry in Europe called “Our daily bread“. Although the film was made in 2005, it’s still very relevant -especially taking into account the recent “horse-meat-in-lasagna”-scandal (www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21375594) on our continent.
There are many American documentaries about the American food industry which seem really fascinating (I’d really like to see “Food, Inc”). However, they’re not super relevant for you when you live in Europe. Not that the European food industry is ‘less bad’ or slightly more ‘ethical’ (after watching that documentary, you’ll be convinced this is certainly NOT the case), but both continents’ context and cultural background are so different that they can’t really be compared.
“Our daily bread” has no dialogue, no voice-overs, comments or testimonials: it is strictly an immersion of an hour and a half behind the scenes of the European food industry. It presents a series of minimalist tableaus from within farms, fields, salt mines, and packing plants to show naked truths about how the food many Europeans eat is harvested, slaughtered, quartered, and packaged.
Here’s what you can expect: baby chicks hatched on trays by the thousands, then hurtled live and peeping en masse onto conveyor belts as if they were widgets, enormous sealed warehouses with chemically doused peppers, forced birth of a calf by c-section…
Here is a scene from the movie:
The film synopsis: “Welcome to the world of industrial food production and high-tech farming! To the rhythm of conveyor belts and immense machines, the film looks without commenting into the places where food is produced in Europe: monumental spaces, surreal landscapes and bizarre sounds – a cool, industrial environment which leaves little space for individualism. People, animals, crops and machines play a supporting role in the logistics of this system which provides our society’s standard of living.”
As you can imagine, without any dialogues and with many long shots, the film isn’t very entertaining. It feels more like an art-house experiment than a ‘normal’ documentary. But it is still very interesting and well done. I enjoyed the fact that there is no voice-over that tells us what to think. The intention is to let viewers draw their own conclusions. Ardent animal right advocates and vegetarians will find the film -literally- very difficult to swallow…
The film didn’t convince me to become a vegetarian, but gave me a good number of reasons to spend 7 euro on organic free-range chicken and limit red meat to once every two weeks.
That said, my boyfriend has not been quite impressed by the whole thing. He intends to go on buying battery chicken because it’s cheaper…
The film’s site: www.ourdailybread.at
If you’ve seen any food documentary, which one would you recommend (Food Inc, Food matters, Super Size Me etc.)?