Welcome to the blog for Colgate University's interdisciplinary course on food. This is the place to keep up with what students in the course are experiencing in their work at Common Thread Community Farm and through their everyday encounters with food.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Powerful New Documentary-Must Watch!


            I was recently shown the trailer of a documentary that came out in January. It was called Fed Up. I encourage everyone to check out the trailer, and watch it because it could not be any more relevant to our class. It's primary focus is our nation's growing obesity problem, but also addresses important topics from class: such as the nation's sugar problem, government and industry's roles in our food system, and many themes from Marion Nestle's work.
            I have only seen the two minute trailer, but even that contained plenty of content related to the big themes of the class. One being, sugar! Sugar is one of our nation's largest problems, and many people do not even realize it. When reading Mintz we discussed how sugar is everywhere. The many snapshots in the trailer reflected this, as well as their impressive statistic; that of the 600,000 food products in America, 80% contain sugar. The clips also showed the amount of shelf space dedicated to sugary products as Marion Nestle discussed, especially in prime real-estate spots such as near the cash register, and at end of the aisles, where customers are more likely to make spontaneous buys.
            Another very important topic that the trailer addressed was the power of the sugar industry. "The sugar industry is extraordinarily powerful. They're in business to make money." We see a parallel to our last reading from Nestle on the meat industry. The meat industry and the sugar industry are comparable. Both have their lobbyist in DC representing their interests. They are just as concerned with labeling and marketing as the meat industry. Nestle provided excellent examples of the lobbyists power. Years ago when the USDA was going to release a food pyramid, cattlemen and their lobbyists raised an uproar when they saw that the pyramid had place meat low in the hierarchy (but that meant high on the pyramid), and was encouraging smaller quantities/amounts of meats in the American diet. We could then see how the industry had the power to continuously manipulate the wording of USDA's health advice to meet their interests, but to the point that it really was no longer health advice. It went from "reduce consumption of meat" (Nestle, 148) to "choose lean meats" to "limit use of animal fats" to "Meats & Beans: Go lean on protein" (Nestle, 149). Nestle also provided examples of lobbyists from the sugar industry contacting about her misuse of the word glucose.
            Food industries have too much power, and there are still many problems with our food system, which is why documentaries like this are so important because they educate the American public and challenge industries' power.

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