See where your food is from
If you’ve ever wanted to know more about the food you eat – to see what goes on behind the scenes of the modern food industry; to witness current food production and farming practices; to see inside abattoirs, hatcheries, food factories and glasshouses – then Nikolaus Geyrhalter’s wonderful, revealing, disturbing and moving Our Daily Bread is the film for you.
For those who missed its run at the ICA and single screening on Channel 4 earlier this year – or if, like me, you saw it but still want to take in its hauntingly compelling images again – the film is now now available on DVD.
Since its release in 2006, Our Daily Bread has enjoyed success and praise at film festivals and screenings around the world:
shocking and profound … crushing and sublime
(Philip Hoad, The Guardian)
the film’s formal elegance, moral underpinning and intellectually stimulating point of view also make it essential. You are what you eat; as it happens, you are also what you dare to watch.
(Manohla Dargis, The New York Times)
The inside story of food: from hatchery to abattoir
Our Daily Bread shows the production of our food with an unflinchingly dispassionate eye, lingering on scenes of giant fields and glasshouses, day-old chick packing units, abattoirs and cutting plants long enough for the viewer to take in the alien details of ordinary food.
In many scenes, the scale alone is staggering. Wide shots of rows of crops stretching into the distance and seemingly endless processions of animals for slaughter defy comprehension. Elsewhere, the baroque complexity of food processing is at odds with the mundane everyday products that result.
The human element
Industrialised food production may often be a streamlined and efficient largely mechanised process, but people still play a fundamental role. The critical actions are almost always still carried out by human hand: the harvesting of salad leaves or tomatoes, the sorting of animals, the killing of livestock, the finer elements of butchery.
Our Daily Bread successfully captures the human side of factory farming and food processing, focussing on the workers. Though the film has no commentary, leaving judgement to the viewer, it’s hard not to see many of these farm and food workers as alienated by their isolation in dehumanised surroundings, numbed by the commodification of the food – often live animals – they handle and the often repetitive nature of their work.
Not for the squeamish
The pictured stills are some of the less gruesome scenes of the film, which also shows conveyor belts laden with young chicks, pig carcasses swaying as they’re hauled around the abattoir, the swift felling of a cow by electrocution and the delivery of a calf by Caesarean section.
Dare you confront the truth beyond your plate and the supermarket shelves?