There are few things more satisfying to me than curling up on a comfy couch (chocolate and a glass of wine in hand) to watch another documentary on food industry practices.
When I started out as a food reporter, I preferred to “keep it light”. I rarely broached controversial topics like factory farming, veganism and GMOs. After watching and reading some of the shocking truths of our food world, I realized that my mission was no longer simply to highlight the “most delicious” food in my city.
So much is at stake: the humane treatment of our animals, our environment, and our health. I couldn’t deny it any longer. My new plan became to center my career passions of food and dining around well-informed, healthful, and ethical broadcasting.
Here’s a list of food-related documentaries to consider watching. They might change the way you eat, as well as, the way you look at the world. I’ve yet to watch them all but have learned so much from the ones already viewed. Note: the descriptions below were pulled from IMDB and the movies’ websites.
Potentially Eye-Opening Food-Related Documentaries
Using hidden cameras and never-before-seen footage, this shocking film chronicles the day-to-day practices of the largest industries in the world (food, entertainment, fashion, science), all of which rely entirely on animals for profit.
The World’s largest environmental organizations are failing to address the single most destructive force facing the planet today. Follow the shocking, yet humorous, journey of an aspiring environmentalist, as he daringly seeks to find the real solution to the most pressing environmental issues and true path to sustainability.
3. Racing Extinction
Utilizing state-of-the-art equipment, Oscar-winner Louie Psihoyos (The Cove) assembles a team of artists and activists intent on showing the world never-before-seen images that expose issues of endangered species and mass extinction.
4. Food Inc.
An unflattering look inside America’s corporate controlled food industry.
Vegucated is a guerrilla-style documentary that follows three meat- and cheese-loving New Yorkers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks and learn what it’s all about. They have no idea that so much more than steak is at stake and that the planet’s fate may fall on their plates.
6. Fed Up
An examination of America’s obesity epidemic and the food industry’s role in aggravating it.
7. Forks Over Knives
A science-based film that examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by adopting a plant-based diet and rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods.
8. Mission Blue
Feature documentary about legendary oceanographer, marine biologist, environmentalist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Sylvia Earle, and her campaign to create a global network of protected marine sanctuaries.
9. The World According to Monsanto
A film based on director Marie-Monique Robin’s three-year-long investigation into the corporate practices around the world of the United States multinational corporation, Monsanto, who’s responsible for creating many of the toxins that are responsible for diseases, cancers, dementia and more.
Farmageddon is the story of a mom whose son healed from all allergies and asthma after consuming raw milk, and real food from farms. It depicts people all over the country who formed food co-ops and private clubs to get these foods, and how they were raided by state and local governments.
Driven by passion fed from a life-long fascination with sharks, Director Rob Stewart debunks historical stereotypes and media depictions of sharks as bloodthirsty, man-eating monsters and reveals the reality of sharks as pillars in the evolution of the seas.
12. Food Matters
Food Matter examines how the food we eat can help or hurt our health. Nutritionists, naturopaths, doctors, and journalists weigh in on topics organic food, food safety, raw foodism, and nutritional therapy.
13. GMO OMG
Today in the United States, by the simple acts of feeding ourselves, we are unwittingly participating in the largest experiment ever conducted on human beings. Each of us consumes genetically engineered food on a daily basis. This film tells the story of a father’s discovery of GMOs in relationship to his 3 young children and the world around him.
14. Darwin’s Nightmare
A documentary on the effect of fishing the Nile perch in Tanzania’s Lake Victoria. The predatory fish, which has wiped out the native species, is sold in European supermarkets, while starving Tanzanian families have to make do with the leftovers.
15. Natural World: A Farm for the Future
Wildlife film maker Rebecca Hosking investigates how to transform her family’s farm in Devon into a low energy farm for the future, and discovers that nature holds the key. Realising that all food production in the UK is completely dependent on abundant cheap fossil fuel, particularly oil, she sets out to discover just how secure this oil supply is.
16. Supersize Me
While examining the influence of the fast food industry, Morgan Spurlock personally explores the consequences on his health of a diet of solely McDonald’s food for one month.
17. Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead
A hundred pounds overweight, loaded up on steroids and suffering from a debilitating autoimmune disease, Joe Cross is at the end of his rope. This inspiring film chronicles his personal mission to regain health with a juicer and generator in tow, vowing only to drink fresh fruit and vegetable juice for the next 60 days.
18. Hungry for Change
Hungry for Change exposes shocking secrets the diet, weight loss and food industries don’t want you to know about deceptive strategies designed to keep you coming back for more. Find out what’s keeping you from having the body and health you deserve.
19. Jamie Oliver Food Revolution (TV Show)
Impassioned chef Jamie Oliver is determined to take on the high statistics of obesity, heart disease and diabetes in the United States. By talking to people in their communities, Oliver will attempt to show people the incredible rewards of cooking for themselves and the people they love. Oliver invites viewers to take a stand and change the way they eat.
20. Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story
Filmmakers and food lovers Jen and Grant dive into the issue of waste from farm, through retail, all the way to the back of their own fridge. After catching a glimpse of the billions of dollars of good food that is tossed each year in North America, they pledge to quit grocery shopping and survive only on discarded food.
21. End of the Line
Documentary filmmaker Rupert Murray examines the devastating effect that overfishing has had on the world’s fish populations and argues that drastic action must be taken to reverse these trends.
22. Food Fight
A fascinating look at how American agricultural policy and food culture developed in the 20th century, and how the California food movement rebelled against big agribusiness to launch the local organic food movement.
23. Killer at Large
An overview of the politics, social effects and problems associated with the rising epidemic of American obesity.
The story of the rise and fall of David Klein, the man who invented Jelly Belly jelly beans.
25. King Corn
King Corn is a feature documentary about two friends, one acre of corn, and the subsidized crop that drives our fast-food nation. When they try to follow their pile of corn into the food system, troubling questions about how we eat and how we farm are raised.
26. The Harvest
The story of the children who work 12-14 hour days in the fields without the protection of child labor laws. These children are not toiling in the fields in some far away land. They are working in America.
27. Seeds of Freedom
Seeds of Freedom charts the story of seed from its roots at the heart of traditional, diversity-rich farming systems across the world, to being transformed into a powerful commodity, used to monopolise the global food system.
28. We Feed The World
We Feed The World is a film about food and globalization, fishermen and farmers, long-distance lorry drivers and high-powered corporate executives, the flow of goods and cash flow–a film about scarcity amid plenty.
29. Poison on The Platter
Poison on the Platter is an eye-opening film illustrating how all of our lives could be adversely affected by genetically modified foods.
30. Fast Food Baby
A film that explores the deep-seated reasons why parents resort to junk food feeding and follows three families as they desperately try and get back on the right nutritional track.
31. The Ghosts in Our Machine
The Ghosts in Our Machine illuminates the lives of individual animals living within and rescued from the machine of our modern world. Through the heart and photographic lens of animal rights photojournalist Jo-Anne McArthur, audiences become intimately familiar with a cast of non-human animals.
32. Life After Food
Some call Soylent the “future food.” This documentary features the man who invented it and showcases how it might change the way we eat. Brian, host of this small-budget documentary, is going to live on Soylent, a total food replacement, alone for thirty days straight.
And a few lighter food-related films for your entertainment…
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
El Bulli: Cooking in Progress
No Reservations: Food Porn
A Matter of Taste
I Like Killing Flies
Kings of Pastry
Chinese Restaurants: Three Continents by Cheuk Kwan
Thanks to all of you who helped compile these lists. Please keep sending food-related documentary recommendations my way (email: erin at itstodiefor dot ca or Twitter: @erinireland).