US Premiere of Sugar Coated

On November 6, the IRN hosted the US premiere of the documentary Sugar Coated. Sugar Coated explores how the Sugar Industry used tobacco-style tactics to dismiss troubling claims about their products, influenced nutrition research outcomes, and intentionally muddied the waters of public knowledge. Stars of the film were present, including Dr. Robert Lustig, Dr. Cristin Kearns, Dr. Laura Schmidt, Dr. Stan Glantz, Dr. Jean-Marc Schwarz, author Gary Taubes, and Alexis Gomez, patient of Dr. Lustig's.

Filmmaker Michèle Hozer opened the dialogue by asking is sugar toxic and is sugar the new tobacco? With physicians, scientists, dietitians, activists, and real food enthusiasts in the room, the conversation was certainly lively. The introduction and Q and A were streamed live via Periscope and questions from our web audience were covered too. 


Blog of the event by journalist and health educator, Elaine Herscher

The premiere was preceded by the IRN's first Real Food Hackathon.


The Real Food Hackathon is a cook-off in which three teams participate to make a real food meal in under 30 minutes. The IRN provided fresh, seasonal produce, cooked proteins, and cooked grains, while the participating teams brought anything else they needed. Oils, vinegars, spices, herbs, dairy and sauces were allowed so long as they met our real food criteria:

  • No added sugar
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • No trans fats
  • No MSG
  • No foods stripped of their natural fiber



Hackathon Teams 

18 Reasons is a community cooking school who's mission is to empower the community with the confidence and creativity to buy, cook and eat good food every day. They host hands-on food experiences and offer free cooking and nutrition classes to low-income communities around the Bay Area. 

18 Reasons: Chefs Cristal BanaganIris Corina, and Jessie Wesley


Leah’s Pantry sparks the imagination and taste buds of underserved communities through culturally-competent nutrition and culinary programs. Since 2006, Leah’s Pantry has worked with over 6,000 individuals and 150 agencies to improve the diet and quality of life of low-income Californians.

Leah's Pantry: Chefs Monica BhagwanDanielle Boulé, and Radha Blackman 



Team Minimalist Cook is comprised of the Minimalist Cook herself, Johanna Dehlinger, and the Baddest Dietitian, Jill Watson. Johanna has cooked and fed herself real foods all her life. She started a blog in 2011 to extend her expertise to help others learn to quickly and inexpensively make delicious, healthy meals on a daily basis. Four years later, she took the leap to offering classes and coaching in person as well. Through her small business, she helps individuals adjust their food sourcing, selection, and eating habits in wholesome ways. Jill is a dietitian who doesn’t necessarily follow the rules. Jill will be launching a food blog soon, but for the time being you can follower her spectacular cooking on Instagram as thebaddestdietitian.

Minimalist Cook: Chefs Jill Watson and Johanna Dehlinger


Judges for the Real Food Hackathon included filmmaker Michèle Hozer; stars of the film Dr. Robert Lustig, Dr. Cristin Kearns and Dr. Stan Glantz; sponsor Dagmar Beyerlein; and youth guest Dominique Adessa.





Plates were scored on

  • Presentation, 5 points
  • Originality, 5 points
  • Taste, 10 points

Real Food Hackathon Winners


Chefs Danielle Boulé, Radha Blackman, and Monica Bhagwan of Leah’s Pantry won our first Real Food Hackathon scoring 107 points out of 120 points possible. They were awarded the Golden Fork and will defend the Fork at our next Real Food Hackathon! 

Special Guests

We’d like to thank our supporters.

Dagmar Beyerlein is a real food devotee who sponsored the event. Our guests signed an IRN apron for Dagmar. Thank you, Dagmar! 

We’d like to thank our catering partners, Chef Cindy Gershen of Sunrise Bistro and Catering and Chef Kristin Zellhart of Real Food Cup. Chef Cindy is a real food-devotee, co-author of the Fat Chance Cookbook, inspirational founder of the Wellness City Challenge, and adviser to the Hackathon. Chef Kristin is a nutrition educator turned entrepreneur who is disrupting the convenience food market with (you guessed it) real food. In her Oakland kitchen, Kristin whips up real food that can be eaten on the go delivered in eco-friendly containers. Chef Cindy and Chef Kristin were assisted by Chef Ty Pearce and culinary arts student Evan Chin. 


Chef Cindy Gershen (right) with guests 

Chef Ty Pearce (left) and Chef Kristin Zellhart (center) with guests 


The menu was real food-only. No sugar, no aritificial sweeteners, and everything made from scratch. 

In addition to the makers and stars of Sugar Coated and our Real Food Hackathon teams, we welcomed special guests Dr. Sweetstuff and Sustainable Santa. Dr. Sweetstuff represented the Sugar Industry at the event. (We’re not even sure how he got an invitation.) Dr. Sweetstuff wore his most appropriate sugar coat loaded with nearly 70 lb of sugar in processed forms. Neal Mueller kindly donned the Dr. Sweetstuff getup for a portion of the event. Thank you, Neal!

Dr. Jordan Shlain, Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board of the IRN, meets Dr. Sweetstuff.

Sustainable Santa stopped by to deliver Dr. Sweetstuff’s bag of coal early, just to embarrass him. Sustainable Santa (Richard Eckfield) is a champion for shifting the culture around the celebration of Christmas to focus on human and environmental health. Sustainable Santa seeks to recreate the image of Santa Claus. Santa as we think of him—that big, jolly man in the red suit with a white beard—was created by Coca-Cola for a marketing campaign. Sustainable Santa represents the original St. Nicholas, who wasn’t overweight and never drank Coca-Cola in his life. Sustainable Santa aspires to be a cultural icon who eschews candy canes and unhealthy food and beverages that are thrown at kids during the holiday season.


We'd like to thank our volunteer photographers, who did an amazing job: Eddie Hernandez and Elaine Herscher. We wouldn't have anything to put on this page, if it weren't for you! 

Peter DuMont, Founding President of Star Alliance Foundation for All, was present promoting goodwill values and principles that help build safer, more harmonious, healthier, and happier communities centered toward a whole society that works for everyone.

The United States Healthful Food Council tabled at the event providing information on their Real Certified program, which is a nationally recognized mark of excellence for food and foodservice operators committed to holistic nutrition and environmental stewardship.

Leah's Pantry also tabled at the event spreading their mission of providing culturally-competent nutrition and culinary programs to California's underserved communities. They generously awarded a recipe book and apron to two lucky guests.


Hint Water graciously donated their flavored waters to our guests. Hint Water has 0 calories, no sugar, and no artificial sweeteners. It’s just water and essences of fruit. Thank you, Hint Water!

Thank You

The IRN wishes to extend a big THANK YOU to all of the guests, sponsors, donors, chefs, partners, and volunteers of the Sugar Coated Premiere and first Real Food Hackathon. Thank you for making it a fantastic evening!

If you would like to be invited to our next event, join our community.



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