We spoke with Laurie David, the powerhouse producer of the newly released documentary Fed UP and incredible inspiration (she also produced An Inconvenient Truth, and authored The Family Dinner and The Family Cooks). We found out her own family’s dinner table rules, which drink upsets her, and where she loves to shop when she visits Toronto.
Do you get Fed Up often?
Every day, many times a day. (we relate – a favourite quote of ours is “If you aren’t outraged, then you just aren’t paying attention.”)
Which foods outrage you most?
I would have to say sugary drinks are the worst. Especially ones that have unnatural, bright, chemically formulated colors. When I see little children drinking orange soda or purple Gatorade I get upset.
Is soda ever ok to drink?
I used to think it was fine at parties. That was our house rule. But knowing what I know today, I would say you should never drink them. They are formulated to addict you. Should you smoke one cigarette?
Can everyone afford to eat healthy?
Yes. But everyone doesn’t have access to healthy food. The food desert problem is a terrible road block for many people.
With families busier than ever, do you think your strategy is actually feasible?
Feeding our families real food cooked at home has to be a top priority. How many hours are we all spending on our Instagram, Twitter or Facebook? In The Family Cooks we have great suggestions for organizing your week on the day you do have time, Sunday. Homecooked Sundays! is a solution.
What are your family table rules?
Everyone shows up, no screens EVER at the table, and everyone tastes everything. Also, water with all meals, and everyone contributes something either in cooking, setting the table or cleaning up. I love rules.
You have two great books, The Family Dinner and The Family Cooks. Which should people start with first?
I think the newest one, The Family Cooks, is actually the better starter book, because the recipes are simpler and with fewer ingredients. Maybe we wrote the books in opposite order. The Family Dinner cookbook is the perfect companion and will convince anyone that the dinner table is the best place to be for great food, good companionship and great conversation. Every recipe I love to cook is in those two books. Family food, not restaurant food.
When you produced Inconvenient Truth, were you already Fed UP about our food system?
Actually learning about food has been a process for me. My aha moment had a lot to do with the realization that every issue crosses the dinner plate.
If you had to choose for kids OR parents to see your film, Fed Up, which would you choose and why?
Tough choice because we want everyone to see it. But if you forced me to answer I would say kids. Ultimately what they eat is in their hands. I really want them to understand how they are manipulated into wanting junk. The sooner we can take the curtain back from the wizard, the sooner kids will have a real honest choice in what they eat. (Pre-order Fed Up on iTunes to watch with your kids, your friends, and everyone you know!)
Do you eat out at restaurants?
Infrequently. For special occasions. And because of that when I do go, it’s fun and special.
It was great to connect with you while you were in Toronto. What impressed you most about this city?
I love Toronto for the same reasons I am sure everyone loves it. It’s beautiful, but its best asset is its friendly, lovely people. Also, Indigo Books. I would live in that store if it was in Los Angeles!!
We think it’s incredible that Heather Reisman removed sugary impulse purchases from the cash at her Indigo stores nationwide. Has anyone else done anything so remarkable at retail?
Heather is a true leader and we hope that move inspires others to do it. Tesco, a giant retailer in England just did the same thing in its 6,000 stores! Every business must, must do this. its really critical we remove these food cues from every where people shop.
Are you hopeful for positive change, and should we be?
I am so hopeful! I think anyone who comes out of the theatre seeing Fed UP will shop differently, cook differently and eat differently! We have been in a food fog but it is lifting. I can see the sun!!
For more information about the Laurie’s projects, visit lauriedavid.com, You can also read Lisa’s brief thoughts on why getting Fed Up can help us all here. Tweet with her @Laurie_David and Like her on Facebook too!