While hiking through the peaks and valleys of the Smokey Mountains, J. Thomas Wenzel paused briefly to refuel on a granola bar. As had become customary , before tearing open the wrapper and munching on, he checked the ingredients list only to find that seemingly omnipresent term “partially hydrogenated” staring back at him. Little did he know that this tiny snack would change the course of the next two years of his life, which he dedicated to shooting and producing the upcoming film “Corporate InGREEDients” with partner David Burton and others at Sir Rebel Films.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Wenzel to discuss his self admitted excessive label reading -turned project, turned (hopefully) major film release. All it took was a trip to the supermarket, where he showed David just how many food items he himself consumed on a routine basis that contained trans fat, and the concept for Corporate InGREEDients was born. While trans fats formed the basis for their investigations, 8 months of pre-production research revealed that hydrogenated oils were just the tip of the nutrition iceberg. “Corporations use many things we take for granted” says Mr. Wenzel, who admits the problem does not rest solely on the shoulders of major food manufacturers or the Food and Drug administration, “People just do not understand what they eat.”
This is a positon we at Transfatspotting.com have argued from the very inception of the site. If Americans were properly informed about the things they choose to put into their body, their food decisions would ultimately be different. We need to eat everyday, and our food choices have a tremendous impact on our health and well being, yet according to Alexa.com, the FDA website has a lower traffic ranking than the celebrity gossip website TMZ.com by a fairly large margin. It just goes to show that the priorities of most Americans are somewhat out-of-whack. We care more about Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan than the contents of the food that sustains our very life. But I digress…
A la Michael Moore, the film contains interviews with n umerous sources including doctors, food producers and nutritionists as well as everyday people concerned with what they put in their body. What started as a pet project with a piddly budget turned into a two year quest with over half a million dollars of production value invested in the film. Part expose, part investigative journalism, the film is poised for an eyebrow raising debut. It has been submitted to the Sundance Film Festival and Wenzel is confident it will be approved for viewing in the January 2009 event. For more information about the film or Sir Rebel Films, please visit their website at http://www.sirrebelfilms.com.