What are your plans for May 9th? If your Friday night is free, you may want to check your local movie theater listings to see when you can catch a showing of the new documentary ‘Fed Up.’
In Super Size Me, Americans learned about the health risks of McDonald’s. In Food, Inc.,we saw the nutritional and environmental devastation brought on by industrial agriculture. Now, a new documentary promises to lay bare what Dr. David Kessler, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, calls “one of the greatest public health epidemics of our time”: junk food and the obesity crisis.
Produced and narrated by none other than Katie Couric, one of the most mainstream voices in American media, Fed Up appears to be a broadside against the sugar industry. In the new trailer, even First Lady Michelle Obama’s exercise-first approach to childhood weight issues is subtly mocked. Commenters ranging from Bill Clinton and Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, to Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman help build the argument that the obesity crisis was brought on by greedy junk food companies, permissive federal legislation and subsidies, and a government that tells us that systemic weight gain is all our fault.
The documentary looks at the decline in American health over the past 30 years, positing that the dietary guidelines first issued by the United States Department of Agriculture—and heavily influenced by the food industry—in the 1980s marked the beginning of the deterioration. In the ensuing years, Fed Up argues, government and industry have both contributed to creating the American diet that has led to skyrocketing rates in obesity and type 2 diabetes, among other health problems.
The “dirty little secret” of the food industry, the doc’s press kit reads, is that “only 30% of people suffering from diet-related diseases are actually obese; while 70% of us—even those of us who look thin and trim on the outside—are facing the same consequences, fighting the same medical battles as the obese among us.”
The combative approach, combined with Couric’s familiarity and talking heads such as Bill Clinton, has the film blog Indiewire asking, in a headline, “Will ‘Fed Up’ Be the Last Straw for the American Food Industry?”
“The tragedy, her film argues, is that the pervasiveness of the food industry and the misinformation it disseminates has stacked all the odds against them,” Indiewire’s Robert Cameron Fowler continues. “Personal responsibility and freedom of choice has always been Big Food’s counter to accusations of public endangerment, but if the American people has been so intricately misled, where is the personal freedom to make the right decision for one’s health?”
“The government is subsidizing the obesity epidemic,” Michael Pollan says in the trailer.
“Junk food companies are acting very much like tobacco companies did 30 years ago,” commented Mark Bittman, also in the trailer.
Seems to leave us with the question, “Are our food choices really our own?” While FoodFacts.com has certainly commented on many of the players in “Big Food,” and on the vague and hazy approval processes for food ingredients and nutritional recommendations coming out of the U.S. government, we do have to wonder how many consumers are familiar with these concepts. We hope that this new documentary can drive those messages to a much larger audience. The subject matter certainly deserves to be an important topic of conversation for the masses.