Natural Foods Merchandiser

Robert Kenner talks Food, Inc. at Expo

A commitment to a balanced portrayal of the food production system combined with a tinge of humor and hope make director Robert Kenner’s film Food, Inc. an Oscar nominee and national hit.

When Kenner set out to make his documentary, he wanted to tackle the difficult subject of modern food production but without viewers needing to close their eyes. “We had so much unbelievable footage of animal cruelty, but we barely used any,” Kenner said to a packed audience that had just viewed the film Thursday afternoon at Natural Products Expo West.

Kenner wanted to create a fair and balanced film so he invited all sides to participate—big ag, organic farmers, even Walmart. “I’m no Michael Moore; I didn’t want to start with a preconceived agenda,” he said.

Kenner had no idea how popular the film would turn out to be and no idea how difficult it would be to make it. “With this film I was so shut out of the world I wanted to explore,” he said. He talked about how he became increasingly frustrated with how reluctant everyone from farmers to parents were to talk about such a seemingly benevolent subject—food. What were they scared of? Lawsuits, losing their farms, losing loans. When Walmart said it wanted to see the final cut before release and Kenner refused, the retailing giant eventually relented.

Even after coming face-to-face with animal cruelty, families sick from toxic food and farmers terrified of the power of genetically modified seed maker Monsanto, Kenner remains positive. “I’m optimistic by the changes I see happening around the country,” he said. “I think that consumers are starting to want to use their power, and are.”

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