Penn & Teller: Bullshit!

Season 1 Episode 11

Eat This!

Aired Monday 10:00 PM Apr 04, 2003 on Showtime
out of 10
User Rating
43 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

In this episode, Penn and Teller offer you a new diet-that you don't eat until the show is over. Sounds like bullsh**? Well it is and so are many health products that claim will make you a healthier person and loose weight. Such as the Hollywood diet, where you don't eat anything for 48 hours except for water and the Hollywood diet shake. Penn and Teller take a look into this diet and see one person's weekend on it.
Also in this episode, Penn and Teller take a look into the movement to ban genetically engineered food, even though it may produce more food for the poor and may even make it healthier. Special Guest Experts include: Fred Anderson (Dieter) Charles Margulis (Greenpeace Spokesperson) Leah Walton (Regional Organizer, Greenpeace LA) Terri Lomax (Professor of Botany and Plant Pathology, Oregon State University) Robyn Anderson (Dieter) Laura Fraser (Author) Phillip Barnett, MD, PhD (Endocrinologist) Norman Borlaug (Agricultural Scientist, Nobel Prize Winner) Juliano (Raw Foods Chef) Alex Avery (Director of Research and Education, Center for Global Food Issues) Simon Harris (Field Organizer, Organic Consumers Association) Carolyn Katzin (Nutritionist)moreless

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  • One of the most succint arguments made by the entire series.

    The first half of the episode is the typical warning against fad diets and exercises. However, the second half of the episode is a very revealing expose of the truth behind food technology: virtually everything we eat is genetically modified in some way. The argument Penn makes, that scaring the Third World out of advanced food technology that can prevent hunger is racism, is right on. These are the words that somebody needed to say. Penn has a very intelligent way of debating for or against subjects, even if he needlessly uses more colorful language to do so. But this argument is definitely his most compelling and most logical as of yet.moreless
  • The dieting half is dead on, the GMO part is horribly biased. So it's five for the diet, zero for the rest.

    I am not going to touch the first half of the episode, since I feel it's dead on (as is indeed the case with most episodes I've seen, save the one about recycling). The other half, on the other hand...

    It may indeed be argued that it's one way to look at GMO. However, it's not the only one and telling fed people to shut up if they beg to differ is just irresponsible. The fed people may actually have something worthwhile to say. Instead, Penn and Teller have found the weirdest kooks and present them as the main force behind organic food.

    It's true that many people in the GMO industry honestly believe that they are addressing the hunger issue and healing the world. There are other issues that need to be paid attention to. The solution to world hunger comes with strings attached. The strings are attached to Monsanto et al. It wouldn't have taken too much research to find out that in many third world places where the GM crops are introduced the local poor communities simply vanish, become extinct, move, die, whatever, to be replaced by the American GM crop fields and their imported farmers. The traditional specied also become extinct, having been replaced by the US imported genetically modified (and more expensive) species.

    Then there's the monoculture issue that any biologist worth of his/her salt would have explained, had Penn and Teller not been heavily prejudiced and gathered only evidence that supports their bias. In essence, a monocultural crop (that the GM crops represent) is very vulnerable towards changes in environment, so that it can be wiped out in its entirety on a very large scale, leaving the dependents... Well, quite hungry and without alternative options.

    It's not to say that GM organisms do not have their merits. There are GM trees grown in China. They grow fast, they're quick money, they are more or less identical and old forests are not being cut. Hopefully. But that, too, could've added to Penn and Teller's argument. Why not research a bit?

    There's no need to go into an anthropological and socio-political argument about the reason why there are so many starving people in the so-called third world. Suffice it to say, providing more food has not remedied the problem so far, it has only created more starving people.

    So what am I on about? For the pro-GM viewpoint, Penn and Teller interviewed some scientists. For the pro-organic viewpoint, they interviewed kooks and gave them derogatory voice-overs (though often for a reason). Why not interview some contra-GM top notch scientists as well? There's an abundance of them, and they're well outspoken. But they may want to actually be able to finish their sentences... So that may be too much to ask for.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • The footage of the long shelf of diet products was apparently filmed inside a Wal-Mart, as seen by the yellow tags and visual design of a glimpsed overhead sign.

    • Additional pieces of the interview with Juliano can be seen in the deleted scenes on the season one dvd.

  • QUOTES (12)

    • Penn: Why is anyone fighting food advance? A very small percentage of the world's population is fortunate enough to have the LUXURY of turning down food. The rest of the world spends most of its time trying to get any know why? Technological problems. They got dirt, they got water, they got sun. They lack the technical ability to till or enrich the soil. They lack the machines to plant enough to feed their families. They lack the HYBRID PLANTS that produce more food per acre. We need to spread all the technology all we can so all people, everywhere, can deal with the PROBLEM of too much food. We can't start getting picky because we've got enough food. That's just self-centered and RACIST! Unless you and yours are starving, you need to SHUT THE F*CK UP!

    • Penn: [on Greenpeace] Hey, it's fine to be anti-government! We sure are! And it's fine to be anti-corporation! But don't try to pass it off as science and compassion.

    • Penn: [on raw fooders] We can't imagine how, but somehow, these folks have forgotten that most people don't have the option of hopping on down to the Piggly Wiggly and bonding with the produce. When the whole WORLD has plenty of food, we'd love to hear this a**hole's advice. But we're certainly not gonna mistake it for information.

    • Raw Fooder: [on feeding people with genetically modified crops] What kind of people would they be? What kind of people would we be creating? You know, you are what you eat!
      Penn: Well I guess she eats SHALLOW, HATEFUL, SELF-CENTERED, BULLSH**!

    • Penn: [on Juliano] Even if this nut had some odd fruit that had grown wild somewhere, it was delivered to him on a truck! It was kept fresh through refrigeration! He washed it in his sink alongside his lettuce tortilla! Where did that water come from? Ya cut it with a knife, and cleaned it up with a cloth or paper towel! There is NO food or water without technology! None! Just SHUT THE F*CK UP and get a job!

    • Juliano: [holds lettuce leaf] Here's a burrito wrapper, ya know? That's perfect, ya know, that's a perfect tortilla. Ya know, no package, no label, ya know. This is from a garden, made by who: Mother Nature, God, whatever you believe, ya know. But, a tortilla is made in a dingy, dirty factory by some dude who hates his job, boss, life, and you. And sends that hate into the food, and you eat it and send it to the center of your core being.

    • Penn: [on Norman Borlaug] At a time when doomsayers were hopping around, saying everyone was gonna starve, Norman was working. He moved to Mexico and lived among the people there until he figured out how to improve the output of the farmers. So that saved...a million lives. Then, he packed up his family and moved to India. Where, in spite of a war with Pakistan, he managed to introduce new wheat strains that quadrupled their food output. So that, another million. Ya get it? But he wasn't done! He did the same thing with a new rice in China. He did the same thing in much of Africa as he's allowed to visit. When he won the Nobel Prize in 1970, they said he had saved a BILLION people. That's BILLION! That's Carl Sagan BILLION with a "B"! And most of them were a different race from him. Norman IS the greatest human being. And you've probably never heard of him.

    • Borlaug: You can't build a peaceful world on empty stomachs and human misery.

    • Penn: We asked all the big diet companies to talk to us about their claims...but, for some reason, the name of our show scared them off.

    • Penn: HEY! We just had a brainstorm! We're announcing the new "Penn and Teller 24-Minute Magic Diet"! You eat nothing while our show is on and...well...that's it. Hey, it works as well as any other bullsh** diet!

    • Penn: [on the raw fooders hiding what their food is from passersby] You know, that's an interesting question...why NOT tell them what it is? We got no idea, but we're pretty sure that if you live in a BEACH HOUSE in the US, you probably shouldn't be trying to tell starving people in the rest of the world that you're fighting the technology that could feed their children!

    • Penn: It's pretty easy to protest when you're not hungry.

  • NOTES (1)

    • The idea of misleading "before and after" photos would later be reexamined in the "Exercise vs. Genetics" episode of Season Two.