The important new documentary Food, Inc. isn't sickening in the way you expect: the scenes of chicken coops and slaughterhouses are brief and not as bad as they've appeared in other media. What's stomach turning is the way corporations have gotten the government to make it illegal to criticize, discuss, or even accurately label the way food is made today. Another dark corner we've turned is that for the first time companies can patent their new hybrids of crops, so suddenly for farmers to do the simple, thrifty task of saving their natural seed's from one year's crop to plant the next season is now theft. Monsanto employs a division of 75 people who investigate and prosecute farmers, often ratted out by their neighbors who report them saving seed. These struggling individuals are themselves a vanishing breed. As the Southern woman who on her own raises massive numbers of hormone-fed chickens says, "This isn't farming. It's factory work." Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser provide excellent, articulate commentary throughout, some of which is actually hopeful. Last year Wal-Mart followed Starbucks, Safeway, and Kroger in banning milk from cows injected with a synthetic growth hormone. The use of bovine growth hormones was already illegal in Canada and Europe.
I reached a milestone of sorts in Wyoming over the weekend, seeing myself portrayed on screen by Ryan Reynolds. In the otherwise skippable The Proposal, he plays someone who works in book publishing and divides his time between Manhattan and Alaska. The utter inauthenticity of the Alaskan characters is matched only by the ludicrous fantasy version of the publishing industry. Do not go thinking at least you can enjoy it as a travelogue: the role of "Sitka, Alaska" was played by Rockport, Massachusetts.
You might reasonably think after my years of criticizing Woody Allen for erasing gay men from his vision of New York that I'd watch Whatever Works just to see Ed Begley's character. Wrong. Not going to endure his contrived romance between Allen-stand-in Larry David and a Soon-Yi stand-in young woman 41 years his junior. (Besides, it sounds like Begley is straight and his coming out is what passes for a punchline.) If you go, let me know.