The Truth Behind Food: The Cruelty Behind its Aesthetic Outer Appearance

The Cove is a documentary film that focuses on Taiji, Japan’s dolphin industry. In this movie, Ric O’Barry, former dolphin trainer in the 1960s who captured and trained 5 dolphins to play the international popular television series “Flipper”, has come to realize the danger and cruelty of capturing and using dolphins for human entertainment purposes. After a long search of redemption, he came across Taiji, Japan and discovered a shocking secret behind Taiji’s mysteries and playful dolphins industry. On the outside, Taiji seemed to be engaging in a wonderland of dolphin entertainment performances; however, in a more remote cove near Taiji, surrounded by barbed wires and signs that say “keep out” showed a dark and cruel reality. Ric O’Barry discovers that the fishermen of Taiji, motivated by a multi-billion dollar dolphin entertainment industry and illegally selling mercury-tainted dolphin meat, hunt dolphins in the cove during nighttime. Because those fishermen knew the danger and nature of their actions, which is hurting the dolphins and human health, they are willing to do anything to prevent anyone from discovering their darkest secret. Ric O’Barry, upon learning this truth, gathers many colleagues who shared the same passion and goals as himself, and devised many plans to try to rescue the dolphins and expose the dark reality of the Taiji dolphin industry to the public. They are willing to go through great lengths in order to save the dolphins and human lives.

The dolphin meat that was falsely advertised as expensive whale meat

The Cove’s relation to food is not like any other usual movies or films, which usually illustrate the aesthetic and beauty of food and advertise the deliciousness of the cuisines, instead, this documentary film is not hesitant to publicly demonstrate the food in another angle, its ugly and cruel side. In The Cove, Ric O’Barry and his other colleagues discover the high amount of mercury, which is extremely harmful to human health, is hidden inside the dolphin meat that Taiji fishermen use to sell to other markets in other parts of Japan. Ric

Ric O'Barry interviewed random Tokyo pedestrians to see if they knew dolphin meat was sold

O’Barry and his crew interviewed random pedestrians in Tokyo and asked them whether they knew the meat they eat everyday are actually dolphin meat with dangerous amount of mercury; to many Japanese people’s surprise, they admitted that they have no idea what kind of meat they are consuming. They are not afraid to expose the truth and dark secret behind the delicious looking and aesthetically beautiful Japanese meal. This illustrates that food may look pretty on the outside, but it in fact may be really ugly on the inside.

Another scene that demonstrates the point of food is not always as pretty as it looks is during the short excerpt from the Minamata Disease. Minamata Disease is a neurological syndrome due to extreme mercury poisoning; it can greatly affect the physical appearance and mentality of those who were infected. The release of methylmercury in the industrial wastewater from the Chisso Corporation’s chemical factory was what caused the Minamata Disease in the first place. These

The victims who suffer from the Minamata Disease

extremely toxic chemicals got into the shellfish and sea animals that the people of Minamata consume for survival and thus affected those who came in contact

with the seafood. The Cove incorporated the Minamata Disease excerption into its documentary film to depict the danger and cruelty of underhand selling of mercury filled dolphin meat to other people. This also further shows that the aesthetically appealing food and/or cuisine that people always see may have a dark and cruel side behind it.

The Cove is unlike any other documentary film; it is very educational and informative in terms of exposing the real truth behind the supposedly wonderful dolphin entertainment industry and appetizing seafood. Its method of showing everything to the public make others realize that people may need to think twice before they decide to do anything, including the next time they see good and delicious food because behind its aesthetic outer appearance, the cruel and ugly truth may lie.


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