“Hungry For Change”, the newest documentary denouncing commercially produced food and encouraging natural eating habits, bills itself as “The first film in its genre to really empower and provide practical and realistic solutions.” But does it measure up to these promises?
I was one of the over 400,000 people who registered for the online premiere of this film. “Hungry for Change” is produced by James Colquhoun & Laurentine ten Bosch, the same team who brought us the controversial film “Food Matters”, which charged the pharmaceutical industry as being self-indulgent and creating chronically “sick” patients in order to maintain profitability. “Hungry For Change” takes a similar view in that the food industry is preying on people by manufacturing demand for food-like substances, that provide us little in the way of nutrition, but instead leave us craving more of these food-like substances. The film presents the argument that eating simple, wholesome foods will bring incredible health, weight-loss, and vitality to our lives.
The “you are what you eat” argument has been around a very, very long time; vegans, Paleolithic diet fanatics as well as proponent of the raw-foods movement have been telling us this for years. To quote noted author Michael Pollan: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Yet the self-declared experts that are featured in “Hungry For Change” present this as one of the most astounding discoveries of the twenty-first century. Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote in 1826: “Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es.” Translated: “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are”. The concept that “you are what you eat” is not a new one, but “Hungry for Change” manages to spin this idea out into a 90-minute documentary.
The film is actually presented in a compelling manner; we are greeted by the sight of an pallid-faced, average woman in her late twenties, who is lethargic, tired, and generally unwell. She is intended to be a mirror image of ourselves – the person who finds it hard to get out of bed in the morning, is addicted to caffeine and carbs, is self-conscious about her body image, and invests in things like diet shake powders and zero-calorie colas in an attempt to lose weight. Who among us hasn’t felt like that? By the end of the film, she has started following the advice of the experts in the documentary, has a renewed glow about her, a greatly improved self-image, and is eating natural, healthy food. I imagine she lives happily ever after, to boot. So the main message of the film is “Eat well to live well.” That’s all well and good, I suppose. But when you analyze where a lot of this information is coming from, the credibility of the film starts to nosedive.
Every single expert that is featured in this documentary has some sort of commercial interest in encouraging you to follow this path of wellness. I’ve provided the full list of “experts” at the end of this documentary so that you can draw your own conclusions as to their own personal interest in making you well; however, here are the ones that really stood out to me:
Jason Vale – initially credited as “Author and Addiction Specialist”, is later credited as the founder of “Juice Master” – an organization through which he promotes his juice bars, endorses juice extractors, and authors books with such titles as “7 lbs in 7 Days Juice Diet”.
Jon Gabriel – initially credited as “Author and Weight Loss Expert”, sells books and DVDs featuring his “Gabriel Method” – a holistic process where you identify the factors causing you to hold on to weight, and then actively decide to cast them out of your life.
Joe Cross – initially credited as “Director – Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead”, is affiliated with Breville juice extractors and promotes juicing throughout his various media sites.
It’s embarrassingly obvious at points throughout the film that the selected panel of experts have a great deal of commercial interest in helping you along the path to wellness. A great example is the emphasis on juicing. For the first half of the film, the majority of the featured experts extol the benefits of eating simple, healthy foods. Eat like our ancestors did, they tell us, and shun processed foods. Yet, the second half of the film starts to feel like an infomercial for juicing and all of its benefits; no less than half of the experts interviewed raved about the health benefits of juicing.
However, I’m pretty sure that our ancestors did not possess juice extractors. Consider the fact (not mentioned in the documentary) that juicing removes a great deal of the beneficial fibrous bulk from these raw foods, along with the point that combining too many high-sugar fruits in your juicing can result in your juice having the same caloric content as a can of soda pop, and you’ve got a glaring inconsistency in the information presented by the featured health experts. A true whole-food or Paleolithic diet would not include extracted juices.
Another stumbling block on the path to credibility is the film’s promotion of certain foods — chia seeds, aloe vera, and dark leafy greens among them — as important “detox” substances in our lives. I am usually the first person to admit that science does not necessarily hold the answer to all of life’s mysteries, but detoxification as a medical practice has not held up well under scrutiny. Although mostly harmless, detox diets propagate the false belief that years of mistreatment of your body can be reversed in three or four days of following a “detox” or “cleanse” diet.
I was honestly rather excited about this documentary; but in the end, I was very discouraged to see it descend into a showcase for juicing, detoxification, and daily affirmations. “Hungry for Change” had such potential to be a vehicle to support the idea of raw diets, veganism, Paleolithic diets, and general good eating habits, but it unfortunately collapses into yet another self-congratulatory documentary which focuses too heavily on the unproven benefits of alternative therapies.
Here’s the list of experts featured in the documentary, and their primary website as of the time of publication of this article. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to the merit of their presence in this documentary.