A Movie That Changed Your Opinion About Something
I have two films that have changed my ideas about the food industry. It has made me question everything I put in my mouth. These are the Morgan Spurlock McDonald’s experiment, Super Size Me, and Food, Inc. that asks how much we really know about the food we buy in the supermarket. After watching both of these movies, I wanted to move to a big 40 acre farm in Montana where my family and I could grow crops and raise cattle and we could seclude ourselves. Of course, then I got hungry and couldn’t afford to be a vegan, so I settled for a double cheeseburger.
Super Size Me had great concept that I wish I was clever enough to think of: Eat nothing but McDonald’s food for 30 days straight… breakfast, lunch, and dinner. He will follow three basic rules: (1) If McDonald’s doesn’t serve it, he can’t eat or drink it. (2) He must Super-Size his meal if asked. (3) He has to eat every item on the menu at least once during his 30 days. He claims to have gotten the idea when he saw a news item about two teenaged girls whose parents were suing McDonald’s for making them obese.
This is an eye-opening and shocking look at the effects of fast food on the body, and it’s more important that ever with 60% of the United States being obese. We are literally eating ourselves to death.
Before he starts his experiment, he visits three doctors and has each of them conduct tests to get a baseline measurement of his health. He actually starts out healthier than average. He weighs about 185 lbs and stands at 6′ 2″. His cholesterol is well under 200 and his body fat is below 10%. The biggest surprise to me was the doctor’s nonchalance about his upcoming experiment. They predict minor effects: triglyceride levels will increase along with cholesterol. This suggests that even in the medical community, people didn’t know that too much easy cheap food is bad for you. Oh, and he won’t be exercising any of that fast food off, during the 30 days he will remain sedentary like most Americans.
During his first lunch, he sat in his vehicle with a Super-Sized Double Quarter Pounder meal. He is shown at 5 minute intervals attempting to complete his meal, which includes a 44 ounce Coke. He’s having a hard time, and at minute 22, loses it and vomits through the window and onto the parking lot. Gladly not every day was like this. By three days in, his mood is much better after his body adjusted to the high fat / high sugar food. Over the 30 days, he stops in for check-ups along the way. Nutritionists are surprised when he puts on about 10 lbs in one week. There are times in the 30 days that he feels palpitations, has trouble breathing, and feels constriction in his chest.
A little over halfway through the month, the doctors finally catch on to the danger and indicate that the side effects are going far beyond what they predicted. His triglycerides and cholesterol are up, but his liver also looks like he has been a heavy drinker all his life. By the end of the 30 days, he’s put on almost 25 lbs, and his body fat has increased from 10% to 18%. In the closing credits, we’re told that it took him 8 weeks to get his liver back to normal and over one year to get down to his previous weight.
Shortly after Super Size Me was released, McDonald’s announced it was going to discontinue its Super Size menu. They of course denied it had anything to do with the film. I would suggest you to buy this one so you can pop it in whenever you get that fast food craving and remind yourself that it is terrible, or you can watch the whole film online or from Hulu.
I consider myself pretty well educated when it comes to nutrition. I mean, I actually read and understand most of the stuff that is put on the nutrition labels. But I was shocked when I watched Food, Inc. and found out that some of those items that I thought were healthy could have been doctored to the point that they harbor franken-bacteria. And if I was this taken aback, I can imagine how many people who don’t take the time to educate themselves would really be stunned if they realized where their food comes from and what the food they are consuming could be doing to their bodies. Most Americans biggest concern about their food is that it is fast, cheap, and tasty. Food, Inc. examines the costs of valuing cost and convenience over nutrition and environmental impact.
Director Robert Kenner explores the profitization of food from all angles. He talks to authors like Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), who happened to co-produce the film, and Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma). And he follows the story of farmers like Gary Hirschberg (Stonyfield Farms) and food standards advocates like Barbara Kowalcyk, who has been lobbying for more rigorous procedures since her two-year-old son died from E.Coli found in meat that was recalled 16 days after he had already passed. He takes his camera, much like Upton Sinclair, into slaughterhouses and factory farms where chickens grow too fast to walk properly, cows eat feed pumped with toxic chemicals, and illegal immigrants risk life and limb to bring these products to market at an affordable cost. Kenner presents this expose in such an engaging way that Food, Inc. it is relateable and accessible to the over-scheduled American who doesn’t have the time or income to read every book or to make sure that they aren’t eating eat non-genetically modified produce every day.
Food, Inc. isn’t quite as entertaining as Super Size Me, but I believe it made a bigger impact on me and although I am not as paranoid as the film probably wants me to be, I still think of these films every time I bring the fork to my lips. So how about you? Are there any movies that have changed your mind about something? Perhaps you hated blue people until Avatar showed you that they have a softer side? Let me kno in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook.