Coming on the heels of the superlative Food, Inc., awkwardly titled fellow documentary Food Beware: The French Organic Revolution makes a similar case for biodiversity and sustainable, safe food production, using a locally sourced children’s diet program in France as the prism through which to cast this issue as the most important moral health struggle of our time.
The movie opens in a small village in France, where the town’s mayor has decided to alter the school’s lunch menu so it is entirely organic and locally grown. Interspersed with various interviews with these children, their parents and teachers, French health care workers, farmers, elected
officials, scientists, researchers and the victims of food-borne illnesses is footage from a November 2006 ARTAC conference on occupational and environmental causes of cancer. While common ground on a multinational or even regional level is sometimes difficult to come by given the competing interests of agribusiness and public health, the detailed abuses of the food industry show that the same phenomena observed in Food, Inc. aren’t entirely uniquely American after all. Oscar-winning composer Gabriel Yared, meanwhile, contributes some original music that hammers home the encroaching menace the filmmakers mean you to feel.
Director Jean-Paul Jaud seeds his movie with some ominous facts (sperm counts are down 50 percent over the last five decades, and European cancer rates in children have risen an average of 1.1 percent per year for the past 30 years), but doesn’t always properly source them right away. He also has a somewhat hamfisted editorial instinct, for the manner in which he juxtaposes personal stories and talking head conference footage is sometimes jarring. Almost despite himself, though, Jaud’s film succeeds in making a convincing case that for the first time ever, an entire generation of the world’s children are growing up less healthy than their parents. He also tries to lay out practical solutions that can help reduce cancer and infertility rates, as well as other illnesses linked
to environmental factors. In this manner the movie is practical, and not a jeremiad. While still a bit clunky, owing to both its subtitles and awkward construction, Food Beware is still at the very least food for thought — part of an emerging scientific consensus about the damage we’re doing to our Earth and, just a bit more slowly, ourselves.
Housed in a regular plastic Amaray case, Food Beware comes to DVD presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, sadly bereft of supplemental bonus material. It has a static menu screen, and is divided into 11 chapters. To purchase the DVD via Amazon, click here. C+ (Movie) D (Disc)