"Fed Up": Our sweets are a bitter pill to swallow

By Jared Lovrak on June 25, 2014

Years before I got into the high-stakes, lucrative world of journalism, I once toiled in the bowels of a fast food restaurant. It wasn't nearly as glamorous as the movies portray it, and never was that more obvious than the time a rat the size of a hoagie sandwich got in after closing and jumped in the deep fryer like Sigourney Weaver at the end of Alien 3.

I won't elaborate further. Suffice it to say that if you ate fries at a fast food joint in Washington sometime during the mid-oughts and found they tasted slightly gamier than expected - a delicate amouse-bouche redolent of greasy vermin hair punctuated with a subtle undercurrent of rabies froth - now you know why.

I share that story to make a point: even if you did unknowingly eat rat fries, that isn't the worst thing you've ever eaten.

According toFed Up, the latest from writer-director Stephanie Soechtig, Oscar-winning producer Laurie David (An Inconvenient Truth) and Katie Couric, (who also narrates the film), sugar reigns supreme among the most corruptive comestibles lining shelves and plates across America, not to mention our digestive tracts and circulatory systems. And according to this documentary, we eat a lot of it, whether we know it or not.

Society's come a long way in regard to our health. We no longer use asbestos insulation or leaded gasoline, and we don't let the Flintstones hock Winston Cigarettes on TV anymore; but with our nutrition it's as if whenever somebody tries to admonish us about what we eat, all we can hear is the Archies singing "Sugar, Sugar."

There's a reason for that.

When thegovernment first issued dietary guidelines three decades ago, they were as blissfully ignorant as the rest of us to the long-term health risks excessive sugar intake could pose. The end result was virtually unregulated sugar content in our nation's food, and a generation of short-lived, sickly and obese children.

You'd think they would revise the guidelines as new information came to light, right? Perhaps they would, but "Big Sugar" is so entrenched in our government and our way of life at this point - with bottomless pockets to grease any palms - it could be that the hydra has too many heads.

Then there's the fact that we all really like sugar, and not just because it tastes good. It's addictive. Not like how Pringles are addictive. Like how crack is addictive. Sugar triggers the same biochemical responses in our brain as cocaine. If sugar were outlawed starting tomorrow morning, jonesing "sugar-tweakers" and warring cartels would make the whole country look like an episode of The Walking Dead by sundown. How do you take a generation of junkies that's grown up getting their fix daily and make them quit cold turkey?

Personally, I think I'd rather die than miss my next hit of sweet, sweet "S".

NOTE: Tacoma Farmers Market Executive Director Stacy Carkonen will be leading a post-film discussion of Fed Up following the 2 p.m. screening Saturday, June 28.

FED UP, opens Friday, June 27, The Grand Cinema, 6060 S. Fawcett, Tacoma, $5-$9.50, 253.593.4474