Tuesday, May 1, 2012

MORGAN SPURLOCK, filmaker and producer of Super Size Me, Food Revolution Summit

Monday, April 30, Day #3 of the Food Revolution Summit: How To Win Friends And Influence People - Without Being A Nag

First speaker of this day: Morgan Spurlock, filmaker and producer of Super Size Me

It is McDonald, Burger King, In-Out, Carl's Junior, Jack in the Box, Fat Burger and others from the same chain that inspired Spurlock to make this film because he experienced poor health, poor nutrition and became cosncious of the detrimental effects on these commercial cheap and fast foods that are killing Americans, slowly and gradually. Eat more for less?
"As concern about obesity was growing worldwide, McDonald’s held a press conference to publicize their concern about the issue. They announced they were launching an exercise video in which Ronald McDonald encouraged kids to exercise. Of course, the menu at McDonald’s went unchanged." ~Morgan Spurlock

Words from the Food Revolution Summit:

Morgan Spurlock ate nothing but McDonald’s meals for 30 days. He filmed the whole experience, and a team of doctors watched what happened.  He turned his story into the award-winning feature documentary Super Size Me. Find out what Morgan learned. It just might change your relationship to fast food… forever.
The following is a small portion of the interview:

Ocean Robbins: Welcome to The Food Revolution Summit where we explore how you can heal your body and your world with food. This is Ocean Robbins and I am joined by my dad, John Robbins in welcoming our guest Morgan Spurlock.  Morgan is a writer, director and producer.  His first film, Supersize Me, captured him eating nothing but McDonald’s meals for 30 days and tracking the remarkable results.  At once brilliantly entertaining and deeply disturbing, Supersize Me became a global phenomenon.  It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004 and won Best Directing Honors.  The film went on to win the inaugural Writer’s Guild of America Best Documentary Screenplay Award as well as to garner an Academy Award nomination for best feature documentary.  Morgan went on to be the executive producer and star of the reality TV series 30 Days.  He recently launched the second season of his newest series A Day in the Life, which takes viewers behind the scenes to follow a day in the life of some of the world’s most interesting people.  To culture and entertainment, Morgan is bringing forth insights and inspiration to stir up the status quo and inspire positive action.  Now Morgan, my dad and I feel so honored to have this time with you and I’m excited to welcome you onto this call and here to interview you is my dad, John Robbins.  

John Robbins: Thank you Ocean and yes I join Ocean and all of our listeners, Morgan, in welcoming you.

Morgan Spurlock: It’s an honor to be here.  Thank you very much. 

John Robbins: We have the highest rates of obesity and morbid obesity and of course this is not just an issue of aesthetics and vanity and self-image although those are important, but there are very real and serious health implications.  One of the themes that I picked up from Supersize Me was that fast food companies, McDonald’s in particular, actually have ways of encouraging people to over eat or to eat badly because that’s where their profit increases.  

Morgan Spurlock: Right and the upsizing was a big part of that.  The whole idea of supersizing and biggie sizing and king sizing and all these things that Wendy’s and Burger King all took from which kind of originated with movie theaters where supersized meals ultimately went going.  They saw the margins and by doubling or tripling the price of a popcorn as it went from one size to another to another which cost them like a nickel more to make, they were able to make a tremendous amount of more money.  They doubled the profit margin on things like this.  So the fast food restaurants said, “There’s a real business model that we should tap into.”  By giving a little more fries, by giving a little more soda – or I’m sorry by giving a lot more soda but for a little more of the price which costs them about a nickel but they charge you 50 cents they had a huge profit margin on that.  Where we pay the price is the amount of calories that we are continuing to take in and not realizing the detriment that it does for our bodies.  

John Robbins: We have a very skewed system where the calories that are least expensive for people to buy are often the least healthy.
John Robbins: Absolutely and the corn syrup you mentioned, the high fructose or otherwise and the soy lecithin that you mentioned, corn and soy are heavily subsidized products.  They are also the two products that by far are the most heavily genetically engineered in this country and they provide the basis of most livestock feed in this country.  In fact most of our corn that isn’t going to biofuels is going to feed animals; hogs and beef cattle and dairy cows particularly and also poultry.  The same is true for our soy crop and it’s not going to tofu, very little of it is, it’s going to livestock to feed.  By subsidizing this we subsidize meat, we subsidize high fructose corn syrup and that’s one of the reasons it was so widely substituted for cane sugar as it came in to the detriment of everybody’s health.  There are so many ways in which we subsidize the wrong things.  I’ve been proposing, I wonder what you think of this, what if we, for example, were to raise taxes on white bread and use that revenue to lower the cost to subside in effect whole wheat bread so that people who have to be very price conscious in their food choices would be able to access in this case whole wheat bread?  We could also put taxes on soda pop and other junk food and use the revenue from that, the income from that to lower the cost to the consumer of fresh fruits and vegetables.  We could put taxes on pesticides and use the revenue from that to lower the cost of organic food.  There’s so many ways. These are all revenue neutral solutions and they would tilt the playing field.  Right now it’s tilted in the wrong direction.  I don’t want to just level it.  I’d like to see it tilted in the right direction.  

Morgan Spurlock: Yes, but what do you think is the biggest thing that’s keeping that from happening?  Is it just big business lobby?  Is it all the money that’s basically pumping into our system in DC making sure that no one is ever voting for what’s best for a carrot?  Is that really what it comes down to?John Robbins: Yes, it’s true.  Yes, I think it is money.  And the money is so strong and the lobbying is so powerful.  The Big Ag, The Sugar Association, The National Livestock and Meat Board, Cowmen’s Association, The Beef Council, The Dairy Council, The Milk Board, all of these groups have so much power and influence over the Farm Bill, over any kind of legislation that takes place.  

Morgan Spurlock: That’s why I love the debate that continues to happen over the food pyramid.  There’s so much money.  I would love just to see a breakdown of how much money and influence goes into the creation of the food pyramid which is now like the food plate.  But still everybody’s weighing in and throwing their lobby dollars towards that.  It’s unbelievable.  There’s no one really being the voice of what is really good for you outside of writing a check.

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