I don’t know if this is normal or not, but sometimes after I watch a documentary I change my life. I mean maybe that’s crazy or at the very least drastic, but sometimes when presented with facts that I cannot deny or ignore, I just can’t help but act accordingly.
When Al Gore terrified America with his documentary An Inconvenient Truth.
That movie made me get real about recycling and doing what I can to minimize my carbon footprint.
When I bought my house I even started composting. And after watching Super Size Me
, the documentary where Morgan Spurlock ate only McDonalds for 30 days, I gave up McDonalds for life. I was never a “heavy user” (the term Mcdonalds themselves used in their training manuals to describe people addicted to that garbage), but trust me when I say I watched that movie once, over a decade ago and I have not eaten there since.
Most recently a documentary actually got me a job.
Several years ago I watched The High Cost of Low Prices
, an excellent tell-all about Wal-Mart and their terrible corporate practices and became livid. I refused to shop there. Moreover it was one of those movies that just stayed with me, so much so that none of my friends or family would mention Wal-Mart around me to avoid my diatribes. Of course, the person who was interviewing me for a position at the union didn’t know that this was a sore spot for me, so she mentioned it and I went off on my rant. It’s a good thing I did. Though I had never worked in labor before, I was offered the opportunity to be a community organizer. It wasn’t even the job I thought I was applying for, but I ended up work directly with Wal-Mart workers to help them know their rights and to engage the community in understanding their plight.
This is why I don’t have a TV. Clearly it’s dangerous. I never know what I might see or what it might make me do, but I do have internet now. Yesterday while perusing Netflix, I stumbled across another movie that might be the catalyst for my next major life change. It’s a film by James Colquhoun and Laurentine Ten Bosch called Hungry for Change
Hungry for Change is about food, the food industry, and how food impacts our health. Nutritionist, dieticians, weight loss experts, doctors, and many others came together to present a disturbing picture of how food and the corrupt food industry are negatively impacting our health. In short, this movie scared the shit out of me.
“People are overfed, but they are also starving to death,” explained Daniel Vitalis, natural food expert. Hearing that felt intuitive. The U.S. is globally known for our obesity. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention
, in 2010 one out of three U.S. adults could be considered obese and the numbers have just risen from there. But as one expert in the film pointed out, people around the world have lived for centuries on a variety of different diets from whale fat to nuts and fruit and managed to do so without getting fat, contracting diabetes, high cholesterol or heart disease. So the question remains what are we doing wrong?
Dr. Alejandro Junger, author of Clean
(21 day fast), explains his theory on the correlation between our food and our health. “The problem is that we are not eating food anymore. We’re eating food like products. And they are adorned, they are made to look better and smell better and be presented so that people are attracted to them, but not only that, they are also made so that they can have a long shelf life, otherwise the supermarkets would be losing money and the manufacturers as well so the objective is not really to give you a healthy product, but to give you a product that will make you buy it, last long, and make a lot of money for the companies producing it.”
So between our stressful lifestyles, where we work too much and don’t exercise enough, the food we are eating in some cases is not even real food. I am a label reader. I like to know what is in what I eat, but according to this movie, the FDA has been allowing manufacturers to exclude things from the labels so they may or may not be accurate. This movie also addressed misleading labels sighting the example of Total Blueberry Pomegranate
cereal, which contains neither blueberries, nor pomegranates, but rather a synthetic conglomerate of sugar, food coloring and chemicals made to resemble real food.
Am I the only one freaked out about this?!
And then they talked about sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Despite not having a TV, even I have managed to see one of those commercials
with the lovely, innocuous looking white people where one turns to the other who is eating a popsicle and says something like: “Don’t eat that! It has high fructose corn syrup in it.” And the other one says, “So what? It’s made from corn.” And corn is good for you right? Even though it’s been genetically modified by Monsanto and quite frankly was never really high in terms of nutritional value anyway. The first time I saw this commercial I was reminded of the Sound Garden video for Black Hole Sun
where the people are smiling too brightly and their faces contort into grotesque masks. I kept waiting for that to happen, for the sheer grotesqueness of their lies to make their faces explode, but it doesn’t. They just smile and then another commercial comes on after that and I am left feeling deeply unsettled, but not quite knowing how to articulate why.
Finally after watching this movie, I learned the reason why. In the Andes and many places in South America, people drink tea made from coca leaves. I did during my time in Chile. It’s mild, tasty, and in no way addictive. In fact, I don’t think it’s even caffeinated. And yet take those same tea leaves and run them through a chem lab and they become cocaine. White refined sugar is to sugarcane as cocaine is to coca leave. And corn syrup is the most concentrated processed version of food imaginable. Just like cocaine, not only can it be toxic to the point of being fatal, but is highly addictive. Even more frightening, it is in EVERYTHING.
Why is it in everything? Because manufacturers are making money hand over fist selling us these products that are simultaneously ruining our health and completely addictive. Where there is money, there is corruption and most importantly influence.
Think about it, why would corn syrup have or need their own lobbyist?!
This movie made me question the FDA. It made me question everything I learned in school about nutrition. It made me question what my food is really doing to me. And these are questions that cannot be ignored.
Thankfully the latter part of the movie does include some action items and suggestions for things we can do, like incorporating more whole food into our lives, perhaps juicing, and trying to find locally grown organic products. It is definitely worth watching.
Hungry For Change left me with a lot of food for thought and a list of several other documentaries in my queue. Watch at your own risk. I feel a life altering change coming on.
Reagan Jackson is a writer, artist, YA fiction aficionado, afro-punk, international educator, and community organizer based in Seattle, WA. You can find her most Wednesday nights at the Rain City Poetry Slam or maybe just being nerdy at her favorite bookstores.