Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Big Ag's Answer to Food, Inc.? America Revealed: About Food

Only collusion at CPB with some big bucks in agriculture could possibly have given us the new PBS series America Revealed's first episode on food. Perhaps they took a cue from the old series In Search of Excellence playbook (covering "brilliant" CEOs in the 1980s) that made American capitalists look like rock stars.

Today, Big Ag gets its closeup in this series. Here's the trailer:

We get glowing aerial video postcards of pesticides being sprayed over cornfields, an industrial-scale farmer from California's Central Valley talking about how high his water costs are, and a tour of a CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) in Colorado.

There are NO pesticide experts in the film, just an ag pilot who tells us how the chemical arsenal has grown from 1-2 chemicals in his predecessor's time to 50 products today. There are NO water experts in the film - just glossy aerials of the host flying over Shasta Dam (with no mention of how the combination of ag's profligate water consumption and agricultural pesticides have killed off the salmon).

There is one comment by a large-scale beekeeper on bee colony collapse being linked to pesticide use, but the narration tells us "the jury is still out." There is no mention made of groundwater depletion by big ag in the Central Valley (see NYTimes map and coverage here) and not one scientist or alternative point of view about the destruction of our soils, water and environment by industrial ag fertilizers or chemicals.

Though there are whizzy graphics showing how much transportation is built into the entire food system, there is no discussion about the carbon costs of such a system.

This show is a perversion about everything we know as responsible journalism. This is not a documentary - it is a love letter to Big Ag - with a few pretensions at covering the local and organic/urban ag/farmers market scene.

You can watch the full show on PBS.org. The sponsored ad on the PBS.org web site on the series home page is for DOW Chemical.

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