28 Oct Fed Up | Laurie David Wants A Level Playing Field
How would you describe yourself? I live in a lot of different worlds and I have a lot of passions. They are all connected. I feel really strongly about fairness. Things that I advocate for are based on my belief that it’s not a level playing field. I feel driven to try to fix that.
How did you get involved in this? Was there a catalyst?
I was a talent manager, worked on the David Letterman Show and then I went into developing comedies for Fox. I always loved the entertainment business.
I think the lightbulb moment happened once I became a mom. Once I became a mom I looked at the world a little differently. I had a big Momma Bear complex and I saw lots of dangers out there.
I remember the environmental thing started with me pushing a stroller down the road and seeing every second car was an SUV and I said, wait, where did these huge cars come from – and what are they doing to the environment? I started looking into it and I learned about global warming. I think my real social consciousness got ignited when I had two daughters and I felt responsible for them.
Was food production the next natural cause for you after global warming?
I think it is a natural transition because every issue crosses the dinner plate. If you have consciousness about the planet and what we are doing to it, you ultimately have to examine what we are eating and how it is produced. The incredible thing about food is that there is something we can do about it that is powerful. You could eat less meat. You can go antibiotic free, you can grow food yourself and you cook at home. There are so many choices you can make – you can buy local. I had some lightbulb moments at my own dinner table. I realized the importance of sitting down and having dinner as a family and how few people were doing that anymore. I was raised in a family that insisted you came to dinner, unless you had a doctor’s note. You were expected to be there, and dinner lasted 45 minutes to an hour. That became a priority for me when raising my kids. It’s so much easier for everyone to grow up in their own silence but every night Monday to Friday my family knew they had to be at their table. And to this day, my children at college do that with their friends.
There is a list of 50 things that you can do if you take time to have dinner together. This is the time when you pass on your values. This is how you teach language skills. This is how they learn resilience and family history.
One of the things we are fighting with is decades of marketing and advertising that cooking is not fun and that you want to get out of the kitchen – or that it takes to long. And all of these things are myths. We have to get back to the table. And the irony of it is, that it is joyful to light a candle and to cook a recipe and to sit down and eat it and laugh. We have to get back to it.
What do you say when people say they have no time to cook. I know I’m guilty of that.
You can cook quickly. On the days you have more time, that’s the day to prep. It takes no time to make a pot of quinoa. And you keep that in the fridge. It doesn’t take long to scramble some eggs and add some broccoli to it. It doesn’t take that long to bake a sweet potato. It’s just being prepared and having the ingredients.
Let’s examine the amount of time we are spending on email and Instagram and Facebook. And this is the crux of it. What are our priorities? Isn’t it to have healthy kids and healthy bodies? That has to be our priority because without health we have nothing. We have to shift our gears, figure what our values are and put them into action.
How do you help kids from becoming picky eaters?
Involving kids in the process of making dinner will make them better eaters. That’s number one. There’s no question about it. They’ll try things they’ll eat more. But I’ll say this about parenting today. I can not remember a time when kids had more say over what they ate, than today. And it’s gotten out of control. Kids aren’t supposed to like things. And that’s why you have to take control. It takes 10 times eating something to develop a taste for it but we give up after the second tasting. We say, oh she won’t eat this or she wont eat that and then it all becomes self-fulfilling. You stop making those things, they stop tasting them and next thing you know, you have a picky eater. We have to make sure of what we are enforcing and reinforcing at the dinner table. Here’s the thing – does your child decide what time they go to sleep at night? It’s our job to continually present to them great tasting food, and to get them to love it.
There’s a lot of pressure from the big food companies to push kids into eating more sugar. Tell us your views on that.
The same thing happened with tobacco companies. We know these products are unhealthy and we know they lead to obesity and diabetes. And yet we are still sitting back and allowing these companies to harm children. It’s absolutely outrageous. How is it a level playing field? A kid’s favorite athlete or musician is advertising a can of soda. Or the Girl Scouts, which is a trusted institution, have their logo on a sugary chocolate drink. I don’t understand why this country is not up in arms about this. Because we are seeing the results of this; 1 in 3 kids is obese and we are seeing skyrocketing disease rates. Care costs are going to bury this country.
I think there is a food movement happening in this country but it needs to get some serious gas in it because very soon children are going to have a shorter lifespan than their parents and that is a sober, sober thought.
It’s an important movie for anybody who eats food. It basically follows 3 kids who are struggling with varying degrees of being overweight, and what they are up against. And it traces back to the beginning. What has happened to our food to make people sick, and what is the government and food industry’s involvement in this? We came up with some really compelling answers.
What will it take for things to change?
I think it will change. You see the girl scouts putting their logo on a 12 teaspoons of sugar, chocolate drink. That’s more sugar than a child should have in 4 days. We should say enough is enough. That’s outrageous. I think things will change I think in the next 10 years we will look at soda and sugary drinks in the same way that we looked at tobacco. Look at places like Mexico, which has a sugar tax on soda now. And soda sales are going down every single day. I think people are getting more educated, and it’s a great opportunity for healthy products to grow. Any one person can put pressure on the market by not buying this stuff. The other side of this is that those products are addictive. They are formulated to addict you. So if you bring them in the house, it’s like having alcohol around if you are an alcoholic. We have to start voting with our wallets and not buy these products anymore.
The food companies aren’t going to be leading the change unless the marketplace demands it. You have to complain about candy by the checkout and you have to work at making the food at your school sugar-free.
What are your plans for the future Laurie?
I don’t know what the future will bring. I’m a believer that when one door closes another one opens. I’m focused on growing food and saving the seeds. I have a farm on the East coast and I grow vegetables, like sweet potatoes, and I give them to the local schools and the food pantry.
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