Get 'Fed Up' With the Documentary's Director and Executive Producer
By Genie Gratto on May 15, 2014
BlogHer Original Post
GG: The MPAA originally cited the film's poster as containing "offensive language," but then backed off that decision, allowing the marketing to go forward as planned. Were you surprised by their original objections? Do you see the poster as being a key to drawing people in to see the film?
LD: There is so much noise out there you really have to be clever to break through. I think the FU poster (don't forget that is our initials!) is really powerful and immediately iconic. We have gotten so many requests from people wanting to buy it! I don't think we were surprised the MPAA took issue with it because it was edgy, but we were surprised by the quick reversal.
GG: The end of the film includes action steps for people who are, indeed, fed up and ready to make change. Of those actions, which range from pressuring legislators to cooking at home, which do you think will have the biggest impact on this issue?
LD: TRY TO GET OFF SUGAR FOR TEN DAYS! That is our Fed Up Challenge and it's an important one. If you take it, you will start noticing for the first time how much sugar you are actually eating in a day. Within a week, you will start to feel better, have more energy and, dare I say it, be happier! Of course one of the most powerful ways to do this is to COOK FOOD YOURSELF! If you don't make it yourself, you don't know what’s in it.
GG: If you could get every family in America to make one, simple change to how they eat, what would that be?
LD: Eliminate all purchased drinks, juices and sodas from your life—diet and otherwise. Drink water, and you will be taking a powerful first step toward health for yourself and your family. If you always serve water with every meal, your kids will grow up craving water with food. What a wonderful gift to give them as you send them out into the world!
SS: Buy food with less than five to seven ingredients. It’s simple, it’s easy, and it made a tremendous difference in the things I bought at the grocery store.
GG: Stephanie, what about this topic drew you in as a filmmaker and director? Why did you want to tell this story in particular?
SS: My parents owned a restaurant growing up, so food issues have always been an important part of my life. When I read Diet for a New America in high school, I knew I wanted to become a filmmaker and shed light on the truth behind the food we eat. When my partners and I started Atlas Films, our goal was to make films that inform and inspire, so this was a perfect fit for us.
GG: How did you find and identify the families and kids you profiled in the documentary?
SS: We just cast a really wide net, and we called churches, synagogues, schools and hospitals just looking for families courageous enough to share such personal details of their lives with us.
GG: What did you learn along the way that shocked you the most?
SS: What shocked me the most was just how unhealthy so-called healthy food really was. So many whole-grain cereals had as much sugar as a soda, and breakfast yogurt has the equivalent amount of sugar as a bag of candy.
GG: An Inconvenient Truth had such a huge impact on how this nation talks about the environment—do you see Fed Up as having the same potential impact on the public discussion of the food industry?
LD: One can certainly hope! We desperately need an honest conversation in this country about the food we are eating and we hope Fed Up will be the catalyst for that—the situation could not be more important and dire.
GG: Do you expect the food industry to remain silent as this film is released, or do you expect them to respond?
LD: They have already responded with the typical lame diversion tactics, saying the information isn't accurate. They have put up phony websites using our URL to divert people so they can continue misinforming the public. They don't give a hoot about the health of America.
GG: Laurie, you've been writing about food—through your cookbooks and other outlets—for a while. Though you already had that broad base of knowledge, did your work on this film change your perspective or teach you anything new?
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