Movie director/producer Robert Kenner told attendees at the 2009 Food System Summit in Kansas City this week that he did not have a point to prove with the movie "Food, Inc.," which was very critical of agriculture, and that he only wanted to present many points of view. He said he approached 100 industrial food producers and almost all of them shut the door on him. However, when asked if he talked to “average” farmers and livestock producers (versus the large-scale “factory farms” he portrays in the film) he did not.

“People are interested in food production and there is a huge movement out there,” Kenner said. “I was not aware of it when I began. People want to know about food and there is a movement happening out there. Food producers need to listen to that and there is a lot to be gained.”

Kenner said he doesn’t think "Food, Inc." and its perceptions represent the broadest population. “People enjoy cheap food, but there are invisible costs. If one out of every three Americans has early onset diabetes that will cost us; food plays a major part in that crisis and that is of concern. It’s a growing movement but still in the minority. Things are starting to change. It’s an alternative but growing voice.”

The Food System Summit was sponsored by the National Council of Chain Restaurants and the Center for Food Integrity.

Read the Q&A with Arnot and Kenner at

I give Kenner credit for being on the stage in front of an audience of chain restaurants and those in the animal health, production and processing industries. What was disturbing is he said that he is “no Michael Moore” and he didn’t have a set point of view in making this film. If you’ve seen the film, you know the entire point of view is that big ag, conventional ag and even technology in agriculture is a bad thing.

Kenner believes there is a danger in the “monoculture” of agriculture where farms are concentrated on one type of farming, such as pork production, corn production, etc., and he believes that they should go back to being the diversified farms of yesteryear with some cows, chickens, pigs and maybe some corn and soybeans on the back 40. His total lack of understanding of efficiencies of a production system came through loud and clear. And while other industries are allowed to be “mono-industries” and specialize, agriculture is not.

Kenner’s information wasn’t all bad, however. Though he admits to not understanding how these systems work, "Food, Inc." did make one excellent point. “At the end of the film we say consumers have the power to change the system because they get to vote three times a day,” Kenner said. “Consumers have to express their desires and talk back to producers to get the food systems they want. Producers talking to consumers have a lot to be gained.” On that point, Mr. Kenner, we absolutely agree.  — Geni Wren, editor, Bovine Veterinarian Magazine