Thanks to the smart, expertly shot documentary "Food, Inc.," I now know why it's so hard to find a supermarket tomato that tastes like, well, a tomato. That's because tomatoes, like so much of our food, aren't farmed or grown as much as they are engineered to satisfy rigid corporate and economic mandates.
And don't get producer-director Robert Kenner started on beef, chicken, pork or that No. 1 public enemy: corn -- the manipulated mass production of each is concisely and rivetingly scrutinized here.
Suffice it to say, after the film's disturbing glimpses inside the meat industry, along with its blunt indictment of fast food giants, you'll think twice before eating just about anything nonorganic.
This is, of course, a good -- and doable -- thing, even if the handful of multinational companies that control the bulk of our nation's food supply won't be thrilled with Kenner's vivid portrayal of their near-Orwellian methods of doing business. The U.S. government doesn't get off scot-free here either.
The film also gives an eloquent array of writers, activists and farmers time to enlighten us about the perils on our plates, but not without offering hope for a safer future. "Food, Inc." is essential viewing.
MPAA rating: PG for some material and images
Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes
Playing: At Landmark's Nuart Theatre, West Los Angeles