Exclusive Interview With Fed Up Director Stephanie Soechtig And Producers Laurie David And Heather Reisman

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Q: There’s a big misperception that foods that are not good for you are cheaper. But as the documentary asserts, there are many places to buy cheap fruit and vegetables, yogurts, etc. How do we thwart this misperception? Why do we not know of all the good, inexpensive food we can buy?

Heather Reisman: From a business point of view, who has the money to spend? It’s the processed food industry. They have huge amounts of money to spend to market food. There’s also huge margins in the food. It’s economics. You have a food industry that has developed over 100 years. Processed foods, when they first began in the days of Kellogg’s and Post, it was a fantastic boom. It helped people to get things that they couldn’t have before, and it grew. And it did many wonderful things and it still does some things that are great. But over the last 20 or 30 years, as the technology has existed to modify and customize food, the food companies have become stronger and more powerful. They can advertise, they can commit the retailer and they have lobbies.

The people who are running the fresh fruit area of the business, they traditionally have not done much marketing. When was the last time you saw Beyoncé selling cabbage? The cabbage growers are not paying her to do that. The pop sellers are paying her to do that. You have got an economic compact that is having this huge impact and then you distort the message that comes out. Now, we need to get a counter-movement going on that brings the truth about what’s in these foods to let people make good intelligent decisions. I think eventually, if we vote with our dollars, these companies will modify what they do.

Q: Is the predicament in Canada that much different from the United States?

Heather Reisman: We all eat the same food. It’s the same global companies that are feeding us. Where I believe we have an opportunity is we don’t have the lobby groups and we don’t have that pact between the government and lobby groups. And I have to call it an opportunity, rather than a problem. As Bruce Springsteen says, “A problem is just an opportunity in work clothes.” If we can shine a light on it, then we can encourage our political leaders to do their part for some truth in labeling and eliminate some of the advertising to children, which is so pervasive.

How great would it be if we could start to at least remove the junk food from all the accessible counters? We had it at Indigo. I wasn’t even aware of how bad it was. I said, Ok, we can do a little something. We can take away candy from all of our counters. It’s a small contribution. Canada is a wonderful country, in that if we can make up our minds, we can really do it.

Q: How are you planning to distribute the film to students, their families and schools? How do we get it to the audiences who really need to see it?

Stephanie Soechtig: Two ways. One, which has never been done before, we have a Spanish-language dub coming out simultaneously with the English version. That’s the first time that’s ever happened. So it’ll be able to go to low-income and minority communities. Two, we’ll have an educational version so we can get this film in schools around the world.

Heather Reisman: If we can get everybody to say it should be in schools, then we can start building a movement. That would be great.

Stephanie Soechtig: Kids need to see the movie. We had kids in mind when we made it. I think the message is very tangible and do-able and simple enough. You make 100 decisions a day around what you’re going to eat. Before you take another bite, go see Fed Up.

That concludes our interview, but we’d like to thank everyone very much for their time. Be sure to check out Fed Up when it hits theatres on May 9th.