I’ve made a film. A feature documentary, “Fighting For Allergy-Free Food”. It’s taken me WAY WAY longer to make it than I’d planned. I figured research a year, shoot for a year, edit quickly, get in film festivals, see what happens. Maybe 3 years tops. So here I am, I’ve lost count, maybe 7 years later? And it’s JUST finally available for anyone with a computer or smart-tv to see. I certainly had no idea it would be during a pandemic. Maybe the best time for a streaming film to be released…when everyone is home and run out of things on Netflix and Amazon. Thank you Indie Rights for making that happen.
I got delayed, and delayed, and delayed after my shooting. I edited, I ran through a bunch of editors, I had a computer crash, I turned it over to someone, Austin Anderson, and it finally got done. While I was “waiting” (and most of you know I don’t sit quietly, ever), I compiled 2 companion books to go with the film. “Fighting For Allergy-Free Food: The Extended Interviews” (for people who want extra information and read each transcript at once) and, “Fighting For Allergy-Free Food: The Cookbook”, which is my pet project I’d been working on for YEARS and thought I could kill 2 birds with one stone. Thank you to Sean Harris of Maverick Sean Photography for being my taster guinea pig and taking all the great photos for every recipe.
Why did I make this film? Thanks for asking. About 15 years ago my osteopath, Dr. George Kessler, asked if I’d ever been tested for food sensitivities. I said no. At the time, you could get a complete blood workup in NY State. Now it’s outlawed. Yup. I had so many reactions, I had no idea what was left for me to eat. Certainly nothing in my apartment. And nothing I normally ordered for delivery. And I had no clue how to cook. It was before there were Gluten Free products everywhere. Before labeling on packages of allergens. Before anyone had even heard of gluten free. It was upsetting, terrifying, depressing. However, I became an awesome cook (thank you to Chef Carla Contreras, Hipcooks and many more places), I went from sleeping 10 or so hours a night and still being exhausted all the time, to sleeping 7 hours and having lots of energy. My migraines reduced. My mood improved, my nightmares lessened, my depression reduced, my IBS reduced. It really was a miracle. Unfortunately, food allergies are ever evolving and all food is not produced the same. So I still have to pay close attention to what bothers me and what doesn’t, and keep adjusting as needed. (Dairy and coconut are evil. Wheat can make some small appearances. Don’t eat chocolate before bed, or really ever. No raw food. No beans. No bananas, blueberries or strawberries. Et al)
When I was young, my mom, Marion Kummel, suddenly, in her late 40’s? Developed a giant reaction to corn. That’s also when genetically modified corn became everywhere and in everything. My mom was suddenly calling every company asking what was in their products, because “natural flavoring”, vinegar, vegetable oil, and 100 other ingredients can be made from corn. She’s lived a nightmare the whole rest of her life (currently 93) and had to learn to cook better and to ask a LOT of questions when she went out for food. She would take antihistamines at dinner to be safe, but they also had corn in them, because they all do.
So. Clearly food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities were becoming epidemic. And what’s the difference? And why is corn not listed in the allergens on labels? And so many more questions came to mind. So I went after answers. I read a ton of books, articles, websites and pursued every person. And then every person I interviewed, I asked them whom else I should interview. My favorite farmer, Michael Snow told me early on that I wasn’t going to find answers, but I’d find more questions. He was 100% right. And it became my tagline.
Most of the interviews took place around 5 years ago. And a lot of people have switched jobs by now. A great person, Dr. Gene Stollerman passed away shortly after I interviewed him. But sadly, there still are no more answers than there were then. Farmers markets have exploded, which is fantastic. Organic food is everywhere, even Walmart. But the average person is still popping pills for heartburn, migraines, exhaustion, depression, rashes, cancer, MS and so much more. They think this is normal. It’s not. Examine what you put in your body and if it makes you sick, DON’T EAT IT!
I made this film not for all of us that already know we have food sensitivities. I made it for all the people that DON’T know. For all the people in middle America that aren’t bombarded (like the coasts) with organic food and nutritionists in every corner. I made it for everyone who hasn’t felt well for years, and their doctor has no idea why. And for my mom and all the other corn allergy suffers that have gone unheard. I asked all the questions YOU wanted answers to.
Thank you, Tamar