The post Monday Movie: Farmageddon, by West Anthony appeared first on Battleship Pretension.

Every Monday, we’ll highlight a piece of writing from our vaults. This review of Farmageddon originally ran as a home video review.

No Virginia, Bruce Willis does NOT save a farm from an asteroid in this picture.  A sort of pesky kid sister to the documentary Food Inc., Farmageddon picks up that film’s pro-organic food banner and runs a little further with it.  Director Kristin Canty, who has a personal tale to tell of raw milk’s benefits in her own family, uses that story as a jumping-off point to explore the travails of several Americans pursuing the growth and distribution of organic foods who find themselves up against the USDA… if not even greater forces.

These stories are alternately sad, harrowing and a little infuriating.  From a family who had their sheep taken away from them because of the fear of Mad Cow Disease (not Mad Sheep?), to the couple who found themselves hassled by The Man for selling their own dairy products, to the co-op entrepreneurs who were supposedly terrorized at gunpoint by law enforcement, Farmageddon shares several unpleasant misadventures amongst the organic set.  There are many tearful reminiscences and pictures of adorable farm animals interspersed with quietly outraged proclamations of despair or defiance.  But it isn’t all doom and gloom.  Farmer Joel Salatin, one of the more memorable interviewees of Food Inc., puts in his two cents with his customary ebullience about the joys and advantages of organic farming that, to this layman anyway, seem hard to disagree with.  On the other hand, when he says he wants to ask the USDA “Why do you hate freedom so much?” he teeters perilously close to the kind of scorched-earth rhetoric that turns people away from verbal extremists ranging from Bill O’Reilly to Michael Moore.

It is at moments like these that the film veers from earnest do-goodery to the kind of mustache-twirling conspiracy theory baiting that makes it such a chore to sit through.  While the reports of harassment from men with guns are indeed distressing, it all ends up feeling a little lopsided; Ms. Canty says that no one on the other side of the argument would speak with her, and that may be true, but throwing ominous low-grade horror movie music under some of the more sinister confrontations feels like stacking the deck.  What we end up with is a kind of Moore-style polemic in which lovers of nature are being trampled by the government and/or corporate agriculture without any argumentative opposition, not even from officers who were involved in any of these shenanigans; Canty, however, lacks Moore’s facility for wit and irony to distract the audience from what is ultimately only one side of a debate.  Perhaps there are very good reasons for not being allowed to transport raw milk across state lines — is it really impossible to find one person to enumerate them?  And while I am certainly no fan of any government office barging into one’s home and impounding this and confiscating that, I would like to see at least some indication that somebody on that end thought they were doing the right thing, rather than a parade of like-minded citizens telling us only that they are victims of an unjust system that doesn’t want us to have clean veggies.

I like the idea of organic farming, really I do.  (Full disclosure:  I ate a whole bag of potato chips while watching this documentary.  Hey, I can like an idea without integrating it into my life, can’t I?)  And I believe that people should be allowed to eat the food they want to eat, even if it is a whole bag of unhealthy processed crap.  So I sympathize with the participants in Farmageddon.  I just don’t think that 86 minutes of preaching to the choir is a very effective use of cinema, and in any case I would have appreciated more subtlety in the sermon.  For those who are already in the tank for organic foods, Farmageddon will merely confirm their beliefs; for those who haven’t yet made up their minds, the film may leave more even-tempered viewers a bit suspicious as to the motives of its maker.

The post Monday Movie: Farmageddon, by West Anthony first appeared on Battleship Pretension.

The post Monday Movie: Farmageddon, by West Anthony appeared first on Battleship Pretension.

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