N.C.C. gives 'Food, Inc.' two thumbs down

by Bryan Salvage
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WASHINGTON — The National Chicken Council calls a new documentary movie on the American food industry called "Food, Inc." "one-sided, negative and misleading."

N.C.C. said it promotes a model of an agricultural system that could not possibly produce enough food to feed consumers in the U.S. and around the world. The movie opened Thursday in New York and will debut in Los Angeles and San Francisco on June 12.

"The truth is the chicken industry produces, processes and markets chickens and chicken products in a safe, responsible manner that delivers wholesome, high-quality products to consumers at affordable prices," N.C.C. said in a news release.

Virginia farmer Joel Salatin, who has a "pastured poultry" operation, is shown in the movie arguing that small-scale production would produce better food. N.C.C. pointed out in a rebuttal posted to its web site, www.nationalchickencouncil.com, small-scale operations occupy only a small niche in the overall system.

"Small-scale farms and ranches simply could not provide sufficient food for 300 million Americans and millions of other people around the world," N.C.C. responded. "There is simply not enough land or labor available to make the model work."

N.C.C. estimated if the mainstream chicken industry attempted to achieve its annual production of more than 9 billion birds on a "pastured poultry" basis, it would need 45 million acres — more than all the farmland in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas combined. "There is simply no way that much land would be available," N.C.C. added.

Noting products from small-scale producers are typically more expensive than products from mainstream producers, the cost to consumers would also be prohibitive, N.C.C. added. "If a consumer wants to pay more, that is his or her business, but insisting that only expensive products from small-scale operations are worth eating is pure snobbery," N.C.C. concluded.

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