After “Our daily bread”, Austria comes back with another not so yummy documentary about the industrial production of the food we chow down every day. It features interviews with alter-globalization protagonist Jean Ziegler and former CEO of the Nestlé Group Peter Brabeck. In this 96 minutes documentary, Wagenhofer takes the spectators on a journey that goes through France, Spain, Romania, Switzerland and Brazil.
The Google Earth coordinates of tomato greenhouses, roughly the size of Luxembourg, in Almeria, Spain. Go take a look. You’ll see it from outer space just like the Palm Islands in Dubai.
The country of the Tomatina hosts in its deep south what is commonly called the plastic sea : here 90 000 seasonal workers, most of them from Morocco, half of them without residence permit and all of them being paid by the hour, pick the reddish-greenish vegetables that will travel a couple of 1000 kilometers to reach our supermarkets.
Okay, we saw all this already one year before in Our Daily Bread. Do Austrians all have VIP passes to slaughterhouses? Or is their political and ecological awareness one we should look up to?
We feed the world, not “Nestlé feeds the world”. Wagenhofer really wanted to confront his viewers with themselves. Critics have said that the movie is “overly gloomy” and “not that enlightening”. They say Wagenhofer is painting his documentary in black and white, using the power of editing in order to make the situation worse than it actually is. You get to see large soy bean plantations in the Brazilian rainforest, cut, a guy states that the soil he is standing on isn’t suitable for soy bean production, cut, a subtitle reads that large parts of the rainforest have been cut down (what a scoop!), cut, dirt-poor Brazilian youngsters who don’t have food nor water, cut. Assembling the puzzle in our heads we are sure to now know that Brazilian rainforest is being cut down for soy production, growing soy is making the soil unsuitable or that the soil was bad anyway, and that favela kids are somehow badly affected.
I’m not even going to try to talk about what happens to truth in the process of cutting. Documentaries and advertisements have studied our receptive strategy and are obviously playing with the way we mentally organize our perceptions.
So let’s say nobody can be blamed for displaying an absurd consummation system, where it doesn’t take a De Lorean to see that the future is not looking so awesome… You did not make me turn vegan Erwin, but thank you anyway.
Maximilien Van Aertryck