What Are We Going to Eat Tomorrow? By Bojidar Manov
Why does West Africa eat European tomatoes produced by African immigrants in the greenhouses near to Almeria, Spain? Why is 80% of the bread in Switzerland kneaded of Indian wheat, from a country where 200 million people barely survive constant malnutrition? Why does Vienna destroy each year two million kilos of needless bread and every day dumps into the waste as much as Gratz consumes in twenty-four hours? Why in the area of El Ejido, Brazil, do tens of thousands of seasonal workers produce about 90% of the world’s soy-beans leading a miserable existence down to an extremely poor quality of life?
These and many other similar confusing questions are posed by Erwin Wagenhofer in his documentary We Feed the World (Austria, 2005, 96 min), which strike our audience awareness. Just because we cannot discover the logical answer in our usual daily life along the way from the kitchen to the store or from the office to the nearby restaurant that we use to have lunch at. Actually, we don’t even think seriously enough on these at first glance absurd findings, which in fact are a part of the daily reality in the world of business and capital.
Erwin Wagenhofer (born in 1961 in Amstetten, Austria) has a very short filmography consisting of a couple of short films and documentaries. But, with his new publicistic film, he really does put his thumb into the wound of a complex knot of very timely economic, political, social and futuristic issues, keeping the bon ton of a conscientious observer and objective commentator; although in an interview he emphasises the inevitable bias of the film. And it couldn’t be otherwise, because it treats a very complicated problem of today in the world globalization process together with a look into the unpredictable future.
So far, the food technologies industrialisation, the production concentration and the market globalization lead to unknown new aspects of the ancient issue of feeding humankind. The obvious results are: a disastrously broken balance between production and consumption on one hand and, on the other, loss of nutrient qualities due to the mass growing of hybrid varieties and genetically modified products. With clever, well-grounded and legible film structuring, Erwin Wagenhofer succeeds in convincing the audience that by following only the money philosophy and maximum profits by all means ideology, the business is not on the right track for the future. Furthermore, normal logic indicates that if we indiscriminatingly follow this line, the inevitable disaster may only be put off in time but cannot be avoided in the future.
That is why his film, without making a brilliant display of cinematographic qualities, without searching for the extraordinary visual power of expression or stunning editing structure, grabs the attention of the audience and skilfully guides it to continuous thinking on the problem and thus plays its very significant role in raising public awareness and starting an immediate discussion on the problem. And the final monologue of the General Manager of the Nestle Group (the 27th ranking company in the world in terms of economic power) from a convinced apology of profit turns into a strongly exposing point in the film.
Thus We Feed the World provokes a serious discussion on our future and keeps up public intolerance of the ruthless profits within the food industry. The ancient question “What do we win and what do we lose?” is updated with extraordinary strength and painful sharpness. This is a worthy task for a documentary and a successfully achieved public function.