Review: Our Daily Bread

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(This documentary may affect your apetite).

If you’re considering becoming a vegetarian, you might like to check out Our Daily Bread, a documentary which offers an inside peek at the lethal logistics of the high-tech food industry.

Welcoming you to a world of callously-efficient production from conception to harvest, and all for the benefit of human consumption, this emotionally-detached expose’ makes its case against cruelty to animals, and without reliance on an editorializing narrator or on judgmental commentary of any kind.

Simply allowing authentic workplace acoustics to serve as the soundtrack, the film effectively positions the viewer right inside the killing fields of assorted futuristic slaughterhouses as an almost involuntary eyewitness to the callous butchery.
Our Daily Bread graphical depicts not merely death, but the mistreatment doled out to these unfortunate factory animals at every stage of their lifecycles.

What could be more shocking than to see a baby calf birthed not from its mother’s womb, but from a gaping, man-made hole arbitrarily gouged in the cow’s side? Maybe the sight of baby chicks being jettisoned out of pneumatics tubes at breakneck speed onto conveyor belts which then drop the bewildered newborns into crates which, in turn, cart them off to another equally-mechanized, indoor environment for fattening?

Then there are the scenes of fish, hogs and cattle being shuttled to their fates, to be drawn and quartered assembly line-style, with their carcasses carefully hacked away in a fully- automated process which makes use of virtually every bit of their bodies besides the tail. The few employees featured in the film have deadened eyes, which ostensibly reflect their having long since capitulated spiritually to their soul-draining line of work. None exhibits even an ounce of compassion for any of the creatures in their care.

Our Daily Bread also devotes its attention to the present-day, antiseptic approach to agriculture, depicting the goings-on inside airport hangar-size greenhouses where fruits and vegetables are grown entirely under artificial light and sprayed with pesticides by what looks almost like astronauts in protective jumpsuits and headgear outfitted with gasmasks.

With wide-angle panoramas every bit as beautiful as Koyaansqatsi (1982), Our Daily Bread actual does that cautionary environmental classic one better, because it evokes a sense of urgency in the audience rather than allowing us to remain aloof. 

Thus, as unindicted co-conspirators in an ethical compromise of unthinkable proportions, the picture prods you to prevent agri-business from leading the planet down a path to complete moral and ecological collapse. For, if we have already rationalized treating plants and animals in this awful a fashion, it couldn’t possibly be that big a jump to ignore the implementation of mass genocide.

A most perturbing experience guaranteed to haunt you for meals to come.

Excellent (4 stars). Unrated. Running time: 92 minutes. Studio: First Run/Icarus Films

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