Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead

Posted on by AmyKRay

Fat Sick and Nearly Dead


There are so many recent documentaries in the food and health category that you can get a bit overwhelmed trying to decide which ones are worthwhile.  And now that we can watch instant Netflix on our Apple TV, there’s such a plethora of exciting viewing options that I have to forcibly limit my screen time.   So I have to admit, I hadn’t gotten around to this one until I was contacted by one of the project’s representatives, Karen Mahmud.  I remembered my 26-year-old daughter saying she had really enjoyed watching Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, which kind of surprised me since she is young and healthy.


This morning, I figured I’d just watch the beginning of the movie, and then finish it later tonight.  One hour and thirty-seven minutes later, I was smiling as I watched the end credits roll.  Joe Cross is a charismatic guy and the story-telling aspect of the film really drew me in.  Much like Morgan Spurlock in SuperSize Me, Joe is on a self-imposed 60-day diet – in this case it’s a juice diet to reverse the effects of the supersize diet he’s been following for years.  Not unlike a scene of drug withdrawal, Joe goes through a detox during the first few days, after which he feels more energetic than before.


Spending his first 30 days in New York and then traveling across the country, Joe visits farmer’s markets, diners and rib joints, talking about diet with all kinds of Americans who seem to fall under the spell of his Aussie charm.  The general consensus from those interviews is, “I should lose weight, I know I would live longer, but I don’t want to change my diet.”  Joe’s motivation was more than weight loss.  Though we see him bare-chested with a huge gut in the opening scenes, he’s really more disturbed by a horrible skin condition that he only has under control with the help of pills – steroids that have their own side effects.  Joe’s goal is to clean up his immune system so that he can get off the meds.  Driving around with a juicer in the back of his car, Joe extolls the virtues of kale and collards, apples and carrots.  After a while, he professes to have developed a taste for the juices and he no longer misses those burgers and fries.


Like Joe, I’ve had to pay strict attention to my diet for health reasons.  I suffer from chronic migraines, and any amount of caffeine, chocolate, msg, alcohol or bell pepper may set one off.  Maybe because of this diet, I’ve been thin for most of my life.  Lately though (post-menopause!), I’ve gained some weight and, like Joe’s interviewees, I know I should pay more attention to my diet and portion control.  But I don’t feel sick. So what’s my motivation?


Nevertheless, I found myself rooting for Joe, and in the end, (spoiler alert) Joe loses a lot of weight and gets off his meds.  Along his way, Joe does make a couple of converts, both of whom are living with painful medical conditions.  And so, my conclusion is: – Unfortunately, to be as motivated as Joe was to stick to his diet, most of us need to be all three:  Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.





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Deconstructing A Nutrigrain Bar

Posted on by AmyKRay


Guest Blogger Rachel Khanna is the researcher behing the Food Fact pages for the Learning Center on our website.  Her new book,  Live, Eat, Cook Healthy provides in-depth information about how to choose the most nutritious and sustainable natural foods available. One thing to look out for:  what lurks inside some foods with healthy-sounding names…

nutrigrain cherries


by Rachel Khanna

The other day, one of my daughters brought home a snack that she had purchased at the supermarket after school.  It was a Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Cereal Bar. Not being a big fan or packaged snacks, I happened to pick up the wrapper to see how healthy this snack is before she popped it into her mouth. Continue reading →

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Finally, The Big Guns Are Suing

Posted on by AmyKRay



Although the lawyers may be motivated by the potential payoff, I think these lawsuits will get people to pay attention and maybe even hold Big Food accountable for the burgeoning cost of chronic illness in the US.  And maybe this will help school districts recognize the need to scrutinize and prioritize the school food environment.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/19/business/lawyers-of-big-tobacco-lawsuits-take-aim-at-food-industry.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120819 Continue reading →

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School Food Advocacy by the Numbers

Posted on by AmyKRay



• This generation of children will be the first in the nation’s history to live shorter lives than those of their parents. (Centers for Disease Control)



• One third of American children are overweight or obese and at risk of developing cardiovascular disease. One quarter of children age five to ten have elevated blood cholesterol or high blood pressure; both are early warning signs of heart disease.

• Type 2 (“adult-onset”) diabetes rates among children are increasing annually. The CDC reports that one in three children born in 2000 (30 percent of boys and 40 percent of girls) will develop type 2 diabetes. Continue reading →

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With Gratitude

Posted on by AmyKRay


The experience of writing a first book has been overwhelmingly positive, with just one sour note.  The Dedication and Acknowledgements pages of LUNCH WARS were accidentally omitted in the first run.  Hopefully there will be future pressings in which these pages, that are most important to me, will be included.  In the meantime, I’d like to share them with you here:


To my parents who nourished me with far more than food, my husband who taught me the pleasures of the palate and my children who inspired a movie, a book and a crusade.


I owe a debt of gratitude to the many people who have made this book possible, beginning with the hundreds of ‘angry moms’ and dads who participated in many ways in the making of the movie, Two Angry Moms.

In the wake of the movie, I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of interest and passion from students, parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents around the country and around the world, too numerous to mention by name.  These people encouraged me to stay connected with the movement for better food in schools, and beyond that, to continue gathering stories, facts and examples of model programs from small towns and big cities. Many of them begged for more information and help with advocating both locally and nationally. Continue reading →

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