A few weeks ago, Fed Up, a documentary about America’s obesity crisis, opened in theaters with a whole lot of media buzz and and a promise that the film will change the way we eat forever.
I won’t be holding my breath.
The goal of the film seems to be to expose Big Food but who will actually see this movie? Mark Bittman agreed to be interviewed because he thought the film might reach a broad audience. You know, all of those people who love Katie Couric (a producer of the film) and don’t read the New York Times. And perhaps there are hoards of Katie Couric fans who are unaware of the role nutrition plays in this country’s obesity crisis, but my guess is that this film will mostly attract people who are already compulsive about their nutritional choices.
Fed Up goes after sugar and sugar is the most reviled villain that compulsive stevia cupcake makers have ever faced. The movie features Robert Lustig — that guy who taught us sugar is poison (but consider this) — and the movie’s website comes with a pop-up imploring you to go sugar-free for ten days.
Why sugar? Why not encourage people to eat more whole foods? What about giving up soda or junk food? Wouldn’t either of those be a better and more realistic first step for folks who want to adopt healthier eating habits? The best thing about Mark Bittman is the way he makes healthy food seem simple and intuitive. Roast some vegetables. Toss together some whole grains. No need to hunt for artisanal agave or coconut sugar. The man makes simple, wholesome dishes sound like not just a revelation, but a revelation that we might all be able to actually experience. If that were the primary focus of the Fed Up Movie, perhaps the film might make some good on its promise. As it is, it’s just another means of validation for nutritional fascists everywhere.