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‘Food, Inc. 2’ Review: Pollan and Schlosser Return



How many gory details about groceries can any moviegoer digest? The 2009 documentary “Food, Inc.” drew on the muckraking of Michael Pollan (“The Omnivore’s Dilemma”) and Eric Schlosser (“Fast Food Nation”) to reveal major problems with industrialized food production. The system, it argued, may keep supermarkets well-stocked, but most people have scant insight into how that food is made — and what it does to our health.

“Food, Inc. 2,” directed by Robert Kenner and Melissa Robledo, doesn’t merely regurgitate those ideas, although it begins by describing how the last few years have shown the risks of letting a small number of mega-suppliers dominate the market. The baby formula shortage? Cramped meatpacking plants that became Covid-19 hot spots? An industry less prone to gigantism might have avoided those horrors.

In some ways, the sequel is a more hopeful film. Pollan, who, along with Schlosser, is among the producers, notes the proliferation of farmers’ markets and grass-fed beef since the last movie’s release. (The credits list separate articles that the authors wrote in 2020 as inspiration.) “Food, Inc. 2” is also wonkier than the original: Its proposed solutions don’t simply boil down to finding better sources, but also enforcing antitrust policy, supporting fair-labor practices and finding new ways to return to time-tested farming methods.

Pollan visits sites where meat alternatives are manufactured and explains how those products present their own trade-offs. Elsewhere, experts testify to how foods can confuse our brains’ reward systems and how U.S. companies, faced with a food supply that provides more calories than anyone needs, have an incentive to make consumers eat more. You might devour less after watching “Food, Inc. 2,” and what you eat will probably be healthier.

Food, Inc. 2
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 34 minutes. Rent or buy on most major platforms.

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