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Founder, Natural Ovens Bakery, Inc., Manitowoc, WI; since 1976 - 300 employees
Pres., Essential Nutrient Research Corp.
Healthy diet featured in award-winning documentary "Super Size Me"
1994-WI Small Business Person of the Year; WI Business & Commerce Award
Has 5 U.S. patents
M.S., biochemistry, Univ. of Wisconsin; B.S., biology and chemistry, Beloit College, Beloit
In his Sundance Award-winning documentary "Super Size Me," filmmaker Morgan Spurlock begins a mission to eat nothing but McDonald's fast food for 30 days. He is monitored by three doctors. His comic quest sends him on an emotional rollercoaster as he gains an injurious 24.5 pounds within those 30 days and his vital signs go off the charts.
How is that possible? Paul says that is possible because the American food industry deliberately makes food that does not satisfy. "It's hollow food, food that has no substance to it," he says. That's why one feels hungry soon after eating it. In their processing, the food companies take out the nutrients, and add artificial flavorings and lots of sugar. They add stimulants that create cravings. In the film Paul says Morgan eats 5,000 calories per day! People can eat that many calories per day and still be hungry soon after because the food is specially designed to do that. That seems to be shortsighted on the part of the industry. Paul says they think in terms of making as much money as they can today, not thinking about the long-term effects of what they are doing.
Paul knows this subject firsthand because he worked for several major food companies years ago and became alarmed at what he saw as unhealthy food practices. Scientifically, he knew this was not the best way to process food. When he voiced his concerns, he was ignored at best, called a crazy radical at worst. He says they tried to ban him from speaking in the media and on TV, but they could not since there is free speech in America.
He started his own company in 1976. "I predicted this epidemic of obesity 25 years ago," he says. "Now that there is an epidemic of obesity, many call me now to speak at their conferences."
TRIED AND TRUE
In his film Morgan crosses the country talking to fast food customers, visiting schools, and interviewing many experts. Paul says he came to Morgan's attention when Morgan did a Web search to find a healthy school lunch program. He found only one, which was the one in Wisconsin's Appleton School District. In the movie Morgan shows what happens when things are done right. This bright spot is the Peak Performance school lunch program created by Paul and his wife, Barbara, which is now in its sixth year. "I am delighted to be part of Super Size Me," he says. "Morgan has humorously depicted in 96 minutes what has taken me 20 years to research."
Morgan highlighted an Illinois school lunch program where a plate of french fries or a slice of pizza are daily fare - much like the rest of the nation's. Contrast that to Paul's program where burgers and soda machines are out and salad bars and energy drinks are in. After removing every vending machine, the school hired two cooks to prepare meals based on fresh produce, whole grains, and energy drinks. School officials noted a decided change in the students' behavior - they are able to better focus in class and they feel better.
"Kids are bombarded with fast food - even in school," Paul says, "but I've proven if you give them healthy alternatives, they'll make the right choice and life-changing results will follow." Parents and educators need to accept responsibility for our exploding childhood obesity problem. "So many kids are suffering because they are obese and unhealthy," he says. In 1997 the Stitts underwrote the $100,000 five-year program in Appleton's Central Alternative High School for students identified as at-risk or with discipline problems. The school district has plans to expand the program to its 25 schools that serve 15,000 students.
When asked if eating healthy costs too much, Paul puts this in perspective. A loaf of whole grain bread averages $2.00 per loaf. Because this bread feeds and satisfies the body, one slice per meal is enough. Three slices per day (a loaf and a half) equals $3.00 per week, which totals $150 per year. Whole grain bread provides 50 percent of all the nutrients you need. Add some turnip greens, apples, bananas, chicken, or fish, and you have a healthy, satisfying meal. Contrast that to spending at McDonald's (per the movie) $27 per day on average - that is $9 per meal - and staying hungry. That totals $850 per month. Paul says fast food gives you the perception of being cheap, but it's not. To eat well you have to think ahead and plan. To enjoy a healthy pot of beans, you have to start them the day before. This is not high tech, he says, not gourmet, but just fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Paul says the Lord put in food all we need to stay healthy. We have to be wise in eating it.
Paul says he would like to encourage young people to start companies. Look at the long-term benefits. All Natural Ovens' products are certified Kosher Pareve by the Chicago Rabbinical Council Pas Yisroel.
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