[Sunday Times food and TV critic. Cheerleading factory farming/animal abuse and GM foods. Talk about shallow heartless thinking, but it is the Sunday Times after all and he knows which side his bread is buttered.]
"There was a good example of soft leftism in the
first of two documentaries on a similar subject last week. The Men Who Made
Us Fat, on BBC2, was presented by Jacques Peretti. A three-part series on
the great food conspiracy, it paraphrases a well-thumbed story: we are all being
poisoned and made addicts by a consortium of supermarkets, fast-food restaurants
and agribusiness. Listening to Peretti is like being lectured to by one of those
waiters who are really actors or therapists, telling you exhaustively what your
dinner's going to be. He has a dull but insistently red-brick voice, and his
message sits snugly in a thick cotton wool of received opinion; stuff "we
all know" that doesn't need repeating. He names a man who made a bigger bucket
of popcorn in a Chicago cinema, and he, apparently, was responsible for your
middle-aged spread and your wife's bum.
The argument is simplistic to the point of idiocy. This wasn't an inquiry, it was a big fat show trial, on selective evidence, with a prewritten judgment, and it did what so many left-leaning documentaries do: it treated the viewers as victims, hapless slobs. All this is being done to you, you're one of the gullible masses. (It is another given of so many documentary-makers that all the viewers really need is education and leadership and legislation.) This series is badly made, barely researched and boringly presented. It will have been welcomed by the choir and ignored by the congregation.
The second film, PBS's America Revealed: Food Machine, on the other hand, was beautifully and slickly made, with some memorable graphics. It began with the premise that America needed feeding, fast, often and a lot. It didn't assume that was a bad thing, because it didn't make assumptions about the audience. But to do that scale of feeding, you need a huge and efficient agricultural business. The enthusiastic presenter called fields "factory floors" and explained how America had become the most successful food producer in the world. The film commended GM corn and the factory farming of cattle. It talked lovingly of crop-spraying, and mentioned organics and obesity. This was a rich, entertaining and moreish show, and it ate the BBC and Peretti's breakfast. As a film, it was just plumper, tastier, sweeter. It was supersized, which is what I want on my sofa, not some parsimonious, scraggy bit of sniffly special pleading, patronising me with do-goodery."---AA Gill (24/6/12 Sunday Times)