Our Daily Bread (English title) draws its title presumably from The Lord’s Prayer of the Christian Bible, and after watching it I have to ask myself–what would the Lord say about what we’re doing to our food supply? I can only conjure the oxymoron “roaring silence” to describe this completely unbiased documentary of the food production industry in Germany (probably more tame than the U.S.’). The only source of any dialogue exists in bantering and chit-chat of the laboring workers, be they in a pork slaughterhouse or deep below the Earth’s surface in a salt mine.
There is no Alec Baldwin narration, no naming of corrupt FDA traitors–simply a display of contextual truth. We, the audience, are completely encouraged to make our own conclusions on the matter. Rather than the “bread of life” that Jesus referred to in the Bible, it seems quite apparent that our modern food system revolves around a mechanized “bread of death,” with little regarded to the fact that our food was once alive. The rendering of meat, which was once very human and in perhaps an esoteric way sacred, is now enslaved to cold, stoic process–completely for the sake of yield.
As silly as it sounds I watched the perfectly-engineered, steel behemoths slaying bull after bull, pig after pig, salmon after salmon and I couldn’t stop thinking about the Terminator franchise, where humans are at war with machines. Watching the efficiency of these systems–I have to think that the war as it stands has already been lost.
If you’ve ever seen the size of a full-grown bull, seen the capriciousness of a feisty pig, or seen the majesty of a full-breadth salmon, it becomes depressing to see their lives ended so quickly, their entrails so effortlessly plucked. I see it as not only a bastardization of the entire human condition throughout history, but a blasphemy towards what this documentary may cite as divine providence.
Even the very right of reproduction is engineered with these animals. The mighty bull takes his natural mount behind the heifer only to have his essence extracted and stolen for later use–or genetic engineering. He may have even been lucky compared to the piglets, comprising one of the most graphic scenes, who are swiftly made eunuchs and left tail-less while their head clamps prevent them from protesting the matter. If only Snowball and Napoleon could see this…
Being long enough to be excruciatingly thorough (92 minutes), Our Daily Bread covers a full gamut of the industrial food chain and not just the aforementioned animals. The highly dosed and doused plant crops are shown, as are their robotic attendants. Salt mining is illustrated, olive tree harvesting demystified, and a lovely landscape scene showcases a crop duster–having its way before the combines raze the stalks in the impeding harvests.
Our Daily Bread is by no means an exciting film, nor is it necessarily invigorating as are many of the shock-value films of our current times. It is however completely honest and very thorough, making it suitable and palatable for the seasoned, food-enthusiast or the life-long factory farm diner. The verdict will of course be up for grabs.
Special thanks to Meredith Miller at Icarus Films for recommending this film for review.