Food & Drink

Frozen Mixed berry Pie

By Heidi Sutton

Memorial Day celebrations should stress-free and these no-bake desserts will give you plenty of time to attend a parade and spend time with family and friends. Fast and fabulous recipes like these assemble in minutes. Here are some delicious choices, courtesy of Eagle Brand.

Fresh Fruit Cream Cheese Pie

Fresh Fruit Cream Cheese Pie

YIELD: Serves 6 to 8


1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1/3 cup lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 9-inch frozen deep-dish pie crust, baked

Fresh fruit (blueberries, strawberries, bananas*)

Seedless red raspberry jam


Beat cream cheese in large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla. Pour into baked pie crust. Refrigerate 3 hours or until set. Arrange fruit on top of pie. If coating berries, stir jam until smooth. Brush berries with jam and serve. Dip the bananas in lemon juice before placing on pie to keep them from turning brown. Do not coat with jam.

Frozen Mixed Berry Pie

Frozen Mixed berry Pie

YIELD: Serves 6 to 8


1  can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)

1/2  cup lemon juice from concentrate

1 1/2 to 2  cups assorted fresh berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc.)

4 cups frozen light whipped topping, thawed

1 graham cracker crumb crust (9 inches)


In large mixing bowl, stir together sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice until well combined. Mix in berries. Fold in whipped topping. Spoon into crust. Freeze 5 hours, or until set. Let stand 30-40 minutes before serving. Garnish as desired. Freeze leftovers.

Lemon Raspberry Ribbon Pie

Lemon Raspberry Ribbon Pie

YIELD: Serves 6 to 8


1 (10-ounce) package frozen red raspberries, thawed

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 (14-ounce) can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk (NOT evaporated milk)

1/2 cup lemon juice from concentrate

Yellow food coloring if desired

2 cups (1 pint) whipping cream, stiffly whipped

1 (9-inch) pastry shell, baked

Fresh raspberries for garnish, optional


In small saucepan, combine raspberries and cornstarch; cook and stir until thickened and clear. Cool 10 minutes. Chill thoroughly, about 20 minutes.

In large bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice and food coloring if desired. Fold in whipped cream. Spread one-third lemon mixture into prepared pastry shell; top with raspberry mixture then remaining lemon mixture.

Chill thoroughly. Garnish as desired. Refrigerate leftovers.

Frozen Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie

Frozen Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie

YIELD: Serves 6 to 8


2  squares (1 ounce each) semi-sweet baking chocolate

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)

1/4  cup creamy peanut butter

1 tub (8 ounces) frozen nondairy whipped topping, thawed

1  graham cracker crumb crust (9 inches)


In large mixing bowl, melt chocolate squares in microwave for 15 seconds, or until completely melted. Add sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter to melted chocolate; mix well. Fold in whipped topping. Spoon into crust. Freeze 6 hours. Garnish as desired. Freeze leftovers.

Online donation site is live; community collection drives begin Memorial Day weekend

PSEG Long Island, Island Harvest Food Bank and Stop & Shop are gearing up the fourth annual PSEG Long Island’s Power to Feed Long Island food drive initiative. The first in-person collection event is slated for Friday, May 24, which is also the kickoff to Memorial Day weekend. The online donation site is currently open for donations at

Collection drives will be set up at seven Stop & Shop supermarkets across Long Island, where community members can donate nonperishable food and essential care items. Any customer who makes an in-person donation will receive a free LED light bulb and a reusable shopping bag.

“We are proud to announce the 2024 kick off of PSEG Long Island’s Power to Feed Long Island food collection drive to benefit Island Harvest Food Bank,” said David Lyons, interim president and COO, PSEG Long Island. “PSEG Long Island created these events for people to support their neighbors in need in their own communities, and they have been successful thanks to the generosity of Long Islanders. Their kindness in giving to this cause has generated thousands of dollars in online donations and in person contributions of cash, food, pet food and personal care items to help their neighbors. There is hunger in every ZIP code on Long Island, and PSEG Long Island is energized to partner with Island Harvest and Stop & Shop for the fourth year to help families in our communities who need it.”

Hundreds of thousands of Long Island families struggle with hunger and food insecurity throughout the year. During the summer months, there is a significant reduction in food donations to local food banks, pantries and other programs. Compounding the issue, children are not in school where they can receive free or reduced-cost breakfast and lunch. In addition, the pandemic and increased inflation continue to strain local food pantries and emergency feeding programs served by Island Harvest.

“We are grateful to have our longtime partner, PSEG Long Island, stand with us and actively support our efforts to combat hunger and food insecurity on Long Island, and its annual Power to Feed Long Island collection event demonstrates that commitment,” said Randi Shubin Dresner, president & CEO, Island Harvest Food Bank. “We continue to see families struggle to put food on the table while trying to meet other essential monthly financial obligations, and the tremendous support of PSEG Long Island and Stop & Shop, coupled with the generosity of their customers who support Power to Feed Long Island, will help provide much-needed and welcome relief to our Long Island neighbors in need.”

“Stop & Shop’s primary charitable effort is to combat hunger in the communities we serve,” said Daniel Wolk, external communications manager, Stop & Shop. “We are proud to host PSEG Long Island and Island Harvest at our stores throughout the summer in support of the Power to Feed Long Island food drive. By working together, we can help Long Islanders fight food insecurity.”

There will be collection bins and drive-up/drop-off options available at each collection site. This year, there are seven collection events:

Friday, May 24 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Stop & Shop

702 Hicksville Rd., Massapequa

Saturday, June 8 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Stop & Shop

3126 Jericho Tpk., East Northport

Friday, June 21 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Stop & Shop

3750 Hempstead Tpk., Levittown

Friday, July 12 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Stop & Shop

260 Pond Path, South Setauket

Friday, July 26 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Stop & Shop

95 Old Country Rd., Carle Place

Friday, Aug. 16 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Stop & Shop

3577 Long Beach Rd., Oceanside

Friday, Sept. 13 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Stop & Shop

365 Route 109, West Babylon

Representatives from PSEG Long Island and Island Harvest Food Bank will be available at all locations to provide information on low-income programs and money-saving energy efficiency options.

Island Harvest has a need for specific items, including:

  • Nonperishable food: Healthy varieties of canned foods, such as low-sodium beans, vegetables, soups, pasta sauces and tomato varieties, tuna and chicken, rice, pasta, nut butters, olive and canola oil, spices and pet food (no glass containers please).
  • Household essentials: Toilet paper, paper towels, hand sanitizer, laundry detergent and dish soap.
  • Personal care items: Toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, soap, shampoo, conditioner, feminine care products and shaving products, antibacterial wipes and washcloths.
  • Baby care items: Diapers, wipes, formula, creams, ointments and baby wash.

Additionally, information will be available from PSEG Long Island on electric service payment plans and programs, and ways to save money through energy efficiency options.

For additional information on Power to Feed Long Island, or to make an online monetary donation, visit Island Harvest estimates each dollar donated provides roughly two meals.


Chimichurrie Chickpea Salad

By Heidi Sutton

With spring and warmer weather comes salad season, offering a perfect canvas for creating refreshing meals centered around tasty greens, juicy tomatoes and chickpeas. A rich source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, chickpeas are high in protein and makes an excellent replacement for meat in many vegetarian and vegan dishes. Give your salads an update and create tasty meals fit for the season like this Chimichurri Chickpea Salad and Mediterranean Orzo Salad, courtesy of

Chimichurri Chickpea Salad

Chimichurrie Chickpea Salad

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


1 cup fresh cilantro

2/3 cup fresh parsley

2 tablespoons dried oregano

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2/3 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 can (14 1/2 ounces) chickpeas, drained

1 bag baby kale mix

1  cup cherry tomatoes, diced

1 medium avocado, diced

4 tablespoons Avocado Ranch Dressing


In food processor, combine cilantro, parsley, oregano, garlic, red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pulse until sauce is smooth. 

Place chimichurri sauce in small bowl with chickpeas; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight, if possible. 

Divide kale, tomatoes and avocado between four bowls. Top each bowl evenly with marinated chickpeas. Drizzle with avocado ranch dressing and serve.

Mediterranean Orzo Salad

Mediterranean Orzo Salad

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


2 cups cooked orzo

2 mini cucumbers, thinly sliced

3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered

1/2 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup arugula

1/4 cup pitted Kalamata and green olives, cut in half

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/3 cup Garlic Vinaigrette & Marinade, plus additional for serving (optional)


In large bowl, combine orzo, cucumbers, tomatoes, chickpeas, arugula, olives and feta cheese. Toss with vinaigrette. Serve with additional vinaigrette, if desired.

Pixabay photo

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Anderson Valley, an AVA (1983) grape-growing area west of Ukiah and north of Sonoma in Mendocino County, California, continues to garner praise as one of the premier regions for Pinot Noir and is one of California’s coolest climates. The valley is almost 15 miles long, with virtually no flat land and hills ranging from 80 to 1,300 feet in elevation and runs to the northwest parallel to the coast till it opens to the Pacific just south of Mendocino.

In 1851, a settler named Walter Anderson discovered the valley after getting separated from his hunting group, and it was named after him. Commercial wine production did not begin until the 1960s, when Donald Edmeades planted a vineyard to Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, French Colombard, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Husch Vineyards, established in 1971, was the first to plant Pinot Noir grapes in the Knoll Vineyard, in Anderson Valley.

Anderson Valley has almost 100 vineyards planted on 2,457 acres. The grapes grown are 69 percent Pinot Noir and 21 percent Chardonnay. Secondary grapes include Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Merlot, Sémillon, and Sauvignon Blanc. In addition to Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley produces some of California’s best sparkling wines… Scharffenberger Cellars, Handley Cellars, Navarro Vineyards, and Roederer Estate, to name but a few.

Recently tasted Pinot Noirs are…

2019 Domaine Anderson “Pinot Noir” Anderson Valley, California. (Made with organic grapes) Bouquet of dried herbs, black cherry, plum, and mulberry with flavors of mushrooms, bittersweet chocolate, and hints of smoke, and pomegranate. The aftertaste begs for another glass.

2021 Crosby Roamann Pinot Noir “Fiadh Vineyard” Anderson Valley, California. (Fiadh is an Irish girl’s name meaning “wild” and “untamed” like this small vineyard site.) Aged 18 months in new oak barrels. Ruby color with an earthy bouquet of mushrooms, black olives, leather, and tobacco. Subtle flavors of cola, cinnamon, vanilla, and dark berries with some tannin.

2021 Crosby Roamann Pinot Noir “Annie’s Old Vines” Sonoma Coast, California. (Aged 18 months in used oak barrels) Light cherry colored with a bouquet bursting with red fruit: cherries, cranberries, and strawberries. Flavors of jam, black pepper, black plums, cocoa, and mint with notes of roses and sandalwood. Very smooth finish and long aftertaste. 

2019 Handley Cellars “Pinot Noir,” Anderson Valley, California. Aromas of boysenberry, cherries, and dried fruit with a hint of bay and eucalyptus. Medium-bodied with plums, oak, jam, and some tannin to lose. Vibrant aftertaste with notes of clove and cardamom.

Bob Lipinski is the author of 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need To Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on He consults and conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at OR [email protected].

National Grid is joining Island Harvest Food Bank, the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), and the United States Postal Service (USPS) as the presenting sponsor of the annual Stamp Out Hunger® food drive, the nation’s largest single-day food collection campaign.

The Stamp Out Hunger food drive is on Saturday, May 11 and all Long Island residents are encouraged to leave non-perishable food donations by their mailbox for their letter carrier to collect. All food collected in Nassau and Suffolk counties will benefit Island Harvest by providing supplemental food support to more than 300,000 Long Islanders who face hunger and food insecurity, including nearly one-third of those who are children.

“Contributing to Stamp Out Hunger is simple,” says Randi Shubin Dresner, president and CEO of Island Harvest. Just leave nonperishable food items in a bag next to your mailbox before the regularly scheduled mail delivery on Saturday, May 11. Then, your USPS letter carrier will do the rest to help ensure that it gets onto the tables of our Long Island neighbors in need.”

“As an Island Harvest Board member, ending hunger on Long Island is not just a goal, it’s a mission we’re committed to achieving,” said Ross Turrini, COO, New York Gas, National Grid and Island Harvest Board Member. “National Grid is proud to be the presenting sponsor of Stamp Out Hunger and a steadfast supporter for over two decades. We are continuing that commitment next week; we will have 50 volunteers sorting food to be distributed to the community. Together we can make a difference.”

Nonperishable food items needed include canned goods, cereal, pasta, rice, boxed juices, and shelf-stable milk (please, no food or juices in glass containers). In addition, personal care items such as toothpaste, soap, shampoo, deodorant, and disposable diapers are gratefully accepted. All donations collected will help replenish Island Harvest’s network of food pantries, soup kitchens and other emergency feeding programs in communities throughout Long Island.

“Even if it’s a can of soup or a box of cereal, every donation, no matter the size, will help countless Long Islanders who may be struggling to put food on their tables,” explains Ms. Shubin Dresner, who noted that the food bank distributed 16 million pounds of food in 2023, a 64% increase over 2019 (pre-pandemic levels). “We are counting on the generosity of our neighbors who can spare a little extra to help make this year’s Stamp Out Hunger food drive one of the most successful.”

Since its inception in 1993, Stamp Out Hunger has collected more than 1.75 billion pounds of food in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, to help address the issue of hunger in America.

“The National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 6000 and the United States Postal Service are excited to once again partner with Island Harvest for this year’s Stamp Out Hunger food collection,” said Tom Siesto, Executive Vice President, NALC Branch 6000. “The members of Branch 6000 and the employees of the United States Postal Service often see firsthand the widespread issue of food insecurity on Long Island and are thrilled to take part in this very important campaign and give back to the local communities that they serve.”

“Our letter carriers stand ready to Stamp Out Hunger on Long Island. We are thrilled to be working with Island Harvest Food Bank and National Association of Letter Carriers to join the mission and ensure every resident has access to a meal,” said the Postal Service’s District Manager John Tortorice.

This year’s Stamp Out Hunger collection campaign on Long Island is generously supported by presenting sponsor National Grid, lead sponsor JPMorgan Chase & Co., and major sponsors Allstate, Bethpage Federal Credit Union, Dime Community Bank, Empire Automotive Group, Nonna’s Garden, Rheem ProPartner, and Stop & Shop, and supporting partners College Hunks Moving, College Hunks Hauling Junk, Amazon, and Steel Equities. All donations to Stamp Out Hunger are tax-deductible because all the food collected benefits Island Harvest, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Firehouse Restaurant and Bar celebrated their grand opening with a ribbon cutting on April 20. Photo from TOB

On Saturday, April 20, Brookhaven  Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Dan Panico, community members and local firefighters were in Sound Beach to celebrate the the grand opening of the new Firehouse Restaurant and Bar with a ribbon cutting .

Formerly The Hartlin Inn, the restaurant, located at 30 New York Avenue, is a tribute to fallen New York City Firefighter Joey DiBernardo, who died in 2011 from injuries sustained during a 2005 fire in the Bronx. 

Pictured with the ribbon are, from left, Councilwoman Bonner, Barbara and Joseph DiBernardo, co-owner Eddie Spagnolo, Gabriella Ingoglia, co-owner Carolyn DiBernardo Ingoglia and Supervisor Panico.

Open noon to midnight daily, the menu at the Firehouse Restaurant and Bar includes soups and salads, starters, sandwiches, burgers, entrees, desserts and more. There is also a bar menu and happy hour menu and takeout is available. 

For more information, please call 631-228-4791.

Apple Ricotta Crepes

By Heidi Sutton

There’s perhaps no better occasion to show off your kitchen skills than Mother’s Day, a perfect opportunity to turn the tables on mom and let her relax while you handle cooking duties. A homemade breakfast — or better yet, letting her sleep in for brunch — is a sure way to win her over and show how much you care.

Show your delicate side by working up a batch of Apple Ricotta Crepes, which require a soft touch to cook the light, silky batter to golden perfection. This rendition of the beloved thin pancakes calls for a ricotta spread and apple-cinnamon topping for a delightful pairing of savory and sweet.

If a full Mother’s Day celebration is on the menu, something a bit heartier may be required. A frittata provides the best of both worlds, as it’s a filling meal that’s also easy to make — just let the oven do the work. This Apple, Tomato and Goat Cheese Frittata is no exception as it calls for a handful of everyday ingredients you can whisk together in a cinch. While it’s in the oven (about 30 minutes, give or take) you can put the finishing touches on your last-minute decorations and handwritten cards.

Apple Ricotta Crepes

Recipe courtesy of Envy Apples

Apple Ricotta Crepes

YIELD: Makes 12 crepes



1 cup flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1cup whole milk

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

butter, for cooking

Ricotta Filling:

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 lemon, zest and juice only

2 to 3 tablespoons sugar, or to taste

Apple Topping:


2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 apples, sliced or cubed

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

salt, to taste

maple syrup


To make crepes: In bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt. Add milk, eggs and vanilla then, using whisk, combine thoroughly. Mixture should be silky smooth. Refrigerate.

To make ricotta filling: Combine ricotta, lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar, mix well and set aside.

To make apple topping: In pan over medium heat, heat butter and brown sugar until bubbly and golden. Add apples, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt, to taste; cook over medium-low heat until apples are soft. Turn off heat and finish with maple syrup.

In nonstick pan over medium-low heat, melt small amount of butter. Add one ladle crepe batter, cook until bubbles form, flip and cook until golden. Repeat with remaining batter. Stack crepes to keep warm and soft.

Spread ricotta mixture thinly onto crepes and fold into quarters. Top with apple mixture and serve.

Apple and Goat Cheese Frittata

Recipe courtesy of Envy Apples

Apple and Goat Cheese Frittata

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


6 eggs

1 teaspoon hot sauce

2 teaspoons kosher salt

20 turns fresh cracked pepper

1/4 cup whole milk

1 small apple, diced

1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped

4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

2 tablespoons thinly sliced chives


Preheat oven to 350 F. In large mixing bowl, whisk eggs, hot pepper sauce, salt, pepper and milk until well combined. Stir in apples, tomatoes, goat cheese and chives until well combined. Using 1/3 measuring cup, spoon frittata mixture into oven-safe large skillet or 9-by-9-inch pan. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until eggs are set. Let cool slightly then serve.

Whales, Ales, and Salty Tales becomes Whales, Ales, and BRINY Tales!

The Whaling Museum, 301 Main St., Cold Spring Harbor announces the broadening of its classic event, Whales, Ales, and Salty Tales, now presented as Whales, Ales, and BRINY Tales! This year, the event introduces an exciting new feature: Pickles! Adults aged 21 and over are invited to this immersive indoor/outdoor experience on Sunday, June 1 from 2 to 5 p.m. at The Whaling Museum.

“We are thrilled to unveil the next chapter of our well-received, annual event,” said Nomi Dayan, Executive Director, The Whaling Museum & Education Center. “After offering new pickle-themed programs a few months ago which sold out, we realized Long Island has a crowd interested in flavorful experiences. We are excited to hybridize tastings of pickles with craft beer offerings – a tasty combination that provides a lively backdrop for historical discussions about life at sea.”

The museum’s plaza will be transformed into a hub of activity, showcasing craft brews from local breweries such as Jones Beach Brewing Company, Secatogue Brewery, Take Two Brewery, Threes Brewery, and more to come. Horman’s Best Pickles will offer pickle samples, along with the option to purchase pickles on sticks. For the adventurous, one brewer will even offer samples of pickle- flavored beer. The event will be further enriched by live sea chanteys performed by Scuttlebutt Stu, providing a lively maritime soundtrack guests can sing along to.

Inside the museum, attendees can expand their knowledge through informative talks on pickles and preservation on whaling ships. Creative minds can participate in designing scrimshaw-style keychains or select the box option for a unique keepsake. The “Tales of the Tavern” adult scavenger hunt will offer a fun and educational experience for interacting with the museum’s exhibits through QR codes and a booklet of clues.

To commemorate this special occasion, the first 150 attendees will receive a commemorative tasting cup sponsored by Mercedes of Huntington, adding a collectible element to their experience. Tickets are available for purchase online at $40, $30 for members or at the door for $45, $35 for members. Designated driver tickets are also available for $15. Event t-shirts will also be available for purchase and are sponsored by local marina, H&M Powles.

“This event has evolved over the course of 10 years, beginning as a quaint tasting event inside the museum to a tented affair featuring new vendors and activities,” said Gina Van Bell, Assistant Director at The Whaling Museum & Education Center. “We are thrilled to see the ongoing excitement from guests, sponsors, and brewers who have supported the event year after year. We are eager to continue expanding the event, connecting the community with our maritime heritage through creative and delicious experiences.”

Tickets are on sale now. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit


Honey Pecan Swirled Coffee Cake

By Heidi Sutton

This Honey Pecan Swirled Coffee Cake is the perfect addition to your Passover table. Packed with pecans, dried cranberries and chocolate chips, you can enjoy a slice with coffee in the morning or warm with ice cream for dessert in the evening!

Honey Pecan Swirled Coffee Cake

Recipe courtesy of National Honey Board

Honey Pecan Swirled Coffee Cake

YIELD: Makes 8 servings


1 1/4 cups honey, divided

1 cup toasted pecans, chopped

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

6  eggs, separated

3/4 cup matzo meal

6 tablespoons potato starch

1/2 teaspoon salt


In medium bowl, mix together 1/2 cup honey, pecans, cranberries, chocolate chips and cocoa powder.

In separate bowl, combine remaining 3/4 cup honey, egg yolks, matzo meal, potato starch and salt.

In small bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold 1/4 of whites into egg yolk mixture. Mix egg yolk mixture back into remaining egg whites.

Spread 1/3 of batter in greased 9-inch springform pan. Spoon half of pecan mixture on top. Repeat with remaining batter and pecan mixture. With spoon, gently swirl filling into batter.

Bake at 325°F for 45 minutes, or until cake starts to pull from sides of pan and toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove cake from pan and cool on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

TIP: Strictly kosher kitchens should be sure to use certified kosher for Passover products.

'Food, Inc. 2'. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

Reviewed by Jeffrey Sanzel

In 2008, Robert Kenner co-wrote and directed the documentary Food, Inc., a searing indictment of the food industry that exposed many of the darkest elements of corporate America’s stranglehold. The film laid bare the unhealthy practices and abuse of animals and industry employees. Additionally, it exposed the handful of companies that ruthlessly controlled the entire market. The film mixed interviews with graphic imagery and segue animations. The brutal but eye-opening film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Feature. 

Bren Smith, a fisherman turned kelp farmer, is featured in the documentary.
Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

Now Kenner and producer Melissa Robledo have co-directed the sequel: Food, Inc. 2. The film opens with the impact of the pandemic: The consolidated food system revealed itself as too brittle to weather unpredictability. Further, a lack of protocols failed to protect workers from COVID-19 and the spread of contamination. This transitions into an exploration of immigrant workers manipulated by the system and treated as disposable.

Just as in Food, Inc., the film targets the largest companies. In particular, the Tyson Waterloo meatpacking plant in Iowa comes under fire for refusal to contact trace, leading to 1,300 out of 2,500 employees contracting COVID. The illness seeped into the community, causing exponential deaths. Tyson used fear tactics to pressure Washington to enact the Defense Production Act to keep their slaughterhouses open. And perhaps it is this ongoing corruption that is the heart of the sequel—the blood money that keeps monopolies in power. The four largest meat companies control 85% of the market. 

The film is a portrait of David and Goliath, with small farmers and small businesses crushed by the mega-conglomerates. In addition to dominating the markets, these companies drain water sources, destroy land, and raise animals in tortuous conditions. It is a story of nature vs. capitalism and profits vs. sustainability. Commodity crops—notably corn and soybean—are subsidized by the government. These two items are the pillars of the industrialized food system. 

Food, Inc. 2 focuses a great deal on “ultra-processed food” that relies on chemical flavoring and novelty to create synthetic, ingestible products that lead to addiction, obesity, and other systemic health strains. This destructive food environment offers larger portions, obsession with constant eating, and the cry of “Eat more! Eat more! Eat more!” 

The film touches on a workforce crushed by horrific working conditions, wage theft, and even forced labor. Kenner and Robledo address climate change and global warming. However, the film shows changes in the laws, citing the Fair Food Agreement. It offers the alternatives explored in the food sciences: meat without animals, milk without cows, honey without bees, kelp farming, etc. It highlights the closed loop of a sustainable system with a more natural approach to land and sea stewardship. 

In all this is the haunting question of whether there has been any real change over the last sixteen years—or only the appearance of change. 

Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) and Michael Pollan (The Omnivores Dilemma) host the second film. Their incisive and eloquent presences area welcome support to the narrative. There are interviews with farmers, fishermen, doctors, and scientists. An interesting thread deals with a scientist hired by PepsiCo to explore the relationship between sweetness and calories. When she reported her findings to the giant corporation, it cut off her funding.

One of the most effective testimonies is a fast-food worker who shares the plight of many Americans struggling to survive. She lived out of her car for several years, trying to feed her two children. She has worked for McDonald’s, Popeye’s, and Taco Bell. She reminds us that the average fast-food worker is not a teenager looking to break into the job market, but a thirty-year-old woman with no health care or sick leave. “I’m tired, and nobody knows how tired I am except for the people who go through it like me.” Her story is one of the most powerful in the entire film. 

Among the talking heads is New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, a member of the Agricultural Committee, who vocalizes his desire to fix the broken food system. Montana Senator Jon Tester, a farmer with a firsthand knowledge of the death of family agriculture and mass exodus off the land, complements him. 

Food, Inc. 2 is an important film but not a great one. While it covers a certain amount of new ground and ends on a more hopeful note, its impact is “less than,” and its effect strangely tacit. The immediacy is not as present, giving the sequel a meandering feel. It is not that it lacks edge, but the blade is the same and slightly duller. Cinematically, it approaches the material in an almost identical fashion. A sense of visual repetition makes the film less surprising and ultimately less engaging. Repetitive footage of farms, labs, and grocery aisles becomes predictable. 

But the final message is significant: Individuals can make a difference. “Use your fork, your vote, your voice.”

Food, Inc. 2 is now streaming on Apple TV, Amazon Prime and Vudu.