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  • Writer's pictureEMILIE KILFOIL '17 and ROSEMARIE BINGHAM '18

Need a Netflix Recommendation?

In Mrs. Porter’s Contemporary Issues in Women’s Health class, students were recently assigned to watch a documentary concerning eating habits and nutrition and to write a review. A handful of students submitted their reviews to The Light to highlight noteworthy picks. Below are some of our favorites.

Fed Up Review by Emery Shiffert '18 and Maia Bennett '17

Just 30 years ago, childhood obesity was non-existent, America’s sugar intake was half of what it is today, and cases of Type 2 diabetes were rare in children. Today, 30% of America is obese, thousands deal with sugar addiction, and at least 57,638 children have Type 2 diabetes today. At the root of these issues is the insane amount of sugar Americans consume on a daily basis.

In “Fed Up,” a documentary focused on the effects of unhealthy eating in America in recent years, a study was conducted on the addictiveness of sugar. Forty-three lab rats were given the option to drink either sugar water or cocaine water for 15fifteen days. 40Forty of them stuck with the sugar water. Sugar is a whopping 8 -times more addictive than cocaine. Mind-blowing facts like these make “Fed Up” a life-changing watch. Your perspective on foods you eat on a daily basis will change forever. For instance, Luna bars and Oreos; one is healthy, and the other is unhealthy right? Surprisingly enough, both foods contain the same amounts of added sugars.

The food industry is to blame for higher obesity rates by making sugary foods seem more appealing, making them less expensive, putting them in schools and markets around the country, and finally adding more sugar to foods that are “fat-free” or “lean”. While programs are being set up to help combat the huge problem Americans are facing, there is still a lot of work to be done. “Fed Up” is truly eye-opening and will make you rethink what you put into your body and how difficult the food industry makes it for those trying to live a healthy lifestyle.

The Future of Food Review by Kate Juliani '18

Beginning this movie, I expected it to be quite factual, statistical, and boring. As it moved along I was shocked to see how interested and excited I was for each new segment of the movie. Most people know about the dangers and health issues with processed foods, but I never realized that there are just as many issues with fresh produce. Corporations use harmful chemicals in order to yield more and get more money. It is shocking to see the science behind genetic modification of products. As the movie focuses mainly around freshly-grown produce, it reveals that corporations like Monsanto genetically modify produce and input viruses without considering how the consumer will be affected. Monsanto is able to do this because it has monopolized the industry by patenting living plants.

The movie then relates to how this can directly affect us, as consumers. GMO’s that are not listed on nutrition labels gives corporations immunity against lawsuits. Although they may be responsible if their product makes a consumer sick, by not listing the truth behind the food they cannot be tracked. Someone may buy taco shells, for example, and the corn may be genetically modified. A consumer could become severely ill but cannot track why because there were no signs on the label indicating any possible problems. This movie makes you think about what you are buying and what has been put into it.

Without being fully aware of what we are consuming, we never will know how our body can be affect and or harmed.

Forks over Knives Review by Hannah Weadick '17 and Katie Schlaak '17

To say that the documentary Forks over Knives is impactful is an understatement. In a society where cancer and heart disease run rampant, the findings in this documentary shake the whole foundation upon which our knowledge of dietary needs is based. Our schools teach us from a very young age that the some of the most important food groups are meat and dairy. However, Doctors Caldwell Esselstyn and T. Collin Campbell challenge this idea, and provide medical evidence that suggests that our precious western diets, consisting of high meat and dairy consumption, have plagued our nation with obesity and other serious diseases. Their studies show that animal proteins significantly increase our chances of developing certain cancers, such as liver and breast cancers, and coronary heart disease. By eating an entirely plant based diet, Esselstyn and Campbell have proven that unhealthy individuals can actually reverse the effects of some of the most serious health concerns, including diabetes, and greatly reduce plaque and cholesterol buildup. Forks over Knives follows the lives of a handful of individuals as they endeavor to counteract the stereotypes surrounding the benefits of animal products while simultaneously improving their quality of life. By adopting a whole foods plant based diet, the subjects of the documentary succeed in overcoming their diseases and becoming independent of their medications. Esselstyn and Campbell, who are now in their seventies, have aided hundreds of people along the recovery of their health, and are living proof of the wonders of an herbivorous lifestyle. This documentary is a must see for everyone who has fallen victim to the customary American diet, and will have you questioning why we spend trillions of dollars on healthcare each year when the simple solution is spinach.

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret Review by Emilie Kilfoil '17, Colleen Harden '17, Skyler Barton '17, and Margot Koenig '17

Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn’s documentary Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret details the striking impact that animal agriculture has on our environment and on our planet as well as the nature of confidentiality that the animal industry has maintained surrounding it. It reveals the hidden hypocrisies and corruptions within some of the world’s most prominent environmental groups.

These organizations, which are based on membership funding, are careful of sustaining their base of financial support. In order to protect this group of supporters, the organizations are cautious about promoting only those behavioral changes that are easy for people to undertake. Though they pledge to keep the safety of our environment at the top of their priorities, the organizations have sacrificed the well-being of the planet for their own economic security by hiding the impact of raising livestock. They are afraid that suggesting the importance of eating less meat will yield less supportive donors. What’s most shocking, though, is not just their refusal to showcase the impact of animal agriculture but the impact of this animal agriculture itself. A UN report highlighted in the documentary proved that raising livestock produces more greenhouse gases than the emissions of the entire transportation sector. It also requires huge amounts of water to raise beef. For example, to produce merely one pound of beef, 2,500 gallons of water are required.

As global citizens, we have the ability to halt the negative effects of this agriculture by strictly limiting the amount of meat and dairy we consume. In doing so, we have massive capabilities. A recent wind project featured in the documentary cost 18 trillion dollars and was not guaranteed to take effect for 20 years. Switching to a vegan diet is completely free and can have nearly immediate results. Overall, the documentary served to remind its audience that protecting our planet lies in our own hands as citizens, not those of the leading organizations who promise to do it for us.

Mrs. Porter’s Contemporary Issues in Women’s Health class offers opportunities such as meeting guest speakers, reading books, watching movies related to women’s health. The class culminates in completing a personalized “passion project,” an open-ended opportunity to explore a topic that interests you.

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