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“Fed Up” is a documented food fight not to be missed

Fed Up                                                                                                                                                                         fed_up

Starring Katie Couric (narrator)

Directed by Stephanie Soechtig

Written by Mark Monroe and Stephanie Soechtig

USA, 2014

Writer-director Stephanie Soechtig inquisitively examines the scales of  injustice concerning the faulty food intake that has increased major concerns for the American nutritional crisis pound-for-pound in the revealing documentary Fed Up. Now Soechtig does not explore anything that we have not heard before as her meal plan has been tasted and digested in other forums worthy of the same cautionary tales of America’s poisonous appetite for gloom-and-doom goodies. Nevertheless, Fed Up is an effective expose on the problematic issues of the food industry’s indifference and reserved cynicism for dietary damage that is plaguing our population…particularly the impressionable youngsters in general that are being inflicted at alarming rates,

The literal “sweetness” behind Fed Up’s structured wake-up call is the culprit sugar…the escalating menace that is automatically linked to such health hazards as obesity and Type 2 diabetes in children. Soechtig, using well-known veteran media mouthpiece and affable executive producer Katie Couric as the film’s unseen narrator, suggests that corporate and governmental feet are dragging in the interest to preserve sugary treats (an obvious money-making substance so coveted in our calorie consciousness) as they divert their attention to other means of addressing the wacky nutritional outrage that exists. There is nothing exuberant or sexy about Fed Up’s straight-forward presentation as we are bombarded with notable talking heads that can contribute to the conversation at hand with relevant, absorbing  insight. An assortment of politicians, physicians, teachers, children, activists and lobbyists all weigh-in on this food-related frenzy that threatens the toxic palate of our nation’s hunger pains for forbidden munchies.

Some may recall Soechtig’s 2009 documentary Tapped where she investigated the behind-the-scenes deception of the bottled water industry. Fed Up is compelling when its targets the possible corruption or at least the convenient way that America’s poor eating habits are showcased though other distractions courtesy of the governmental operatives welcoming this smoke screen. Similarly, Fed Up echoes the sentiments that 2013’s A Place at the Table shrewdly pinpointed in how opportunistic and shady corporate officials are when using tactics to blurry the exploitative angle in salvaging the business end of getting fat off of America’s uncontrollable sweet tooth.

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As noble as Fed Up wants to be in its crusade to outline the catastrophic rise of neglected health maintenance through foolish food choices it also argues the other side that would state how individuals can overcome their demons if they can get up and get out to consider some daily exercising as an alternative way to curve the calorie-counting conflicts that present an on-going dilemma in our societal desperation. Somehow the film’s mounting skepticism feels juicy at this stage as both points of view are presented democratically more or less. After all, does the food industry mainly need to be vilified based upon the freedom for individuals to enjoy sugary snacks and other edible indulgences? Consequently, the food industry is only giving the consumers what they want and not twisting any arms to take away healthier options from them, correct? Who is to say that the underbelly of food addiction and morbid obesity solely rests on the shoulders on corporate cretins looking to turn a robust profit at the expense of junk food enthusiasts nationwide? Interestingly, the film’s reference to American First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” drive for young folks stresses the urgency for daily physical fitness/activity and less eating yet she cannot bring herself to completely label the food companies or any other federal outlets as “demonized enablers” for the food-craving crisis that hovers over us like a hypnotic sugar rush at Candy Land. Again, is it really fair to tag the food industry as ready-made scapegoats for the nation’s yearning for reckless food-abusing frivolity?

Fed Up sufficiently waxes its stark commentary about our twisted food-related philosophies through various graphics and charts that warn of the decadence that threaten to corrupt our youthful generation through hard facts, concrete statistics, expert opinions and critical observations by medical advocates that spell out the dietary detachment we routinely practice in our everyday lives. Specifically, the four case studies of severe overweight kids are provided to give further consideration into the downward spiral and self-destruction that our massive intolerance garners when not properly tackling the ubiquitous emergencies of sugar-based products and other frightful food-forming nightmares.

If Fed Up and its display of tragic tykes, lax food regulations, diseases, distrust and ill-advised food consumption is a tough pill to swallow then think of this poignant and noteworthy narrative as a yummy powdered doughnut…maybe then the dire fodder as expressed in Soechtig’s contemplative documentary will agree with your guilty pleasure-seeking taste buds.

–Frank Ochieng

 


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