There are a ton of wonderful food documentaries that are streaming on Netflix and other platforms like Hulu and Amazon. What follows are on my personal “best food documentaries” list, and better yet, they’re all streaming so you can watch them immediately. As a whole, they address the various issues of healthy food, agriculture, food insecurity and big industry. I’ve listed them in no particular order:
Food, Inc. (on Amazon, Netflix and Hulu) This Academy Award-nominated movie came out in 2009 and sheds light on how corporations control our food supply. It is narrated by Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and in many ways is a sister film to that book. The movie examines the corporate role in agribusiness, animal health and welfare, and the environmental impact of the meat industry. Highly recommended.
Fed Up (on Amazon and Netflix): This film, hosted by Katie Couric, takes aim at the obesity epidemic in America, and the role of corporations in promoting unhealthy foods. It discusses how corporations essentially trick the American populace into eating addictive and sugary foods and while presented as more of an extended news segment than, say Supersize Me, has essentially the same inspiring message about how important it is to eat healthy. This film is a “call-to-action, exhorting the viewer to make a change and reject corporate-created and sponsored “food”.
Fat Sick and Nearly Dead (on Joe Cross’ own site, for free Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, Amazon and Hulu) This movie was really entertaining, inspiring and motivating. It features Joe Cross, 100 lbs overweight and suffering from an auto-immune disease, who decides to turn his life around for once and for all. For 60 days, he drinks only freshly squeezed juices and in doing so, gets off all his medication, loses 100 lbs and reverses his auto-immune disease. In some parts, it comes off a bit like an infomercial for juicing, but there is no doubt as to Joe’s sincerity or the success of his approach. He is definitely a proselytizer, but once you watch this film, you might become one too.
A Place at the Table (Amazon & Netflix) This movie received 90% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, the review site, and for good reason. A Place at the Table analyzes the issue of food insecurity in the United States–where 1 in 4 children and 49 million people have no idea where their next meal is coming from. It approaches the issue personally, following four people who have a hard time getting food on the table and its political and socio-economic causes. Experts weigh in on the tragedy and solutions are presented. Heart-rending and eye-opening. Rated PG.
Vegucated (Hulu, Netflix and Amazon) A funny, moving film that follows three meat-loving New Yorkers as they convert to a vegan diet for six weeks. See their transformation, both physically and politically, towards meat and see their family and friends’ reactions to their lifestyle change. It also addresses the issue of animal cruelty in the meat and dairy industry, and is not wholly fixated on meat as simply a health issue. Rated PG.
That Sugar Film (on Netflix and Amazon) I watched this movie with both my boys when they were 10 and 13 years old, and it really opened their eyes to the pervasiveness of sugar, and how food corporations have manipulated our taste buds to become conditioned to the presence of sugar in so many processed foods. In particular, this movie cleverly focuses on foods that many of us consider to be healthy but are actually laden with sugar. The narrator consumes only foods that are marketed as “healthy” despite their having high sugar content, and has a medical team track their effect on his health over a 60 day period. It reminds me a lot of Super-Size Me (reviewed below) but with a focus on sugar rather than fast food. Excellent movie. NR
Forks Over Knives (on Amazon and Netflix) More dense than the other movies listed here, this movie’s intent is to educate more than anything else. So while it can at time be a bit drier than the other movies on this list, it is very educational and informative for anyone considering embarking on a vegan diet.
King Corn: (on Amazon and Netflix) This movie is a bit different than the other listed here. It features two friends who move to Iowa, convince a farmer to give them an acre of land, and proceed to grow some industrial, genetically-modified corn on the land. They purchase lots of fertilizers and pesticides, too. They analyze why corn is so prevalent in the American diet, studying corn subsidies and interviewing nutritionists and scientists on the impact of high-fructose corn syrup on our health. Fun and unusual. NR.
Super Size Me. (Amazon and Netflix) This movie is considered the grand-dad of food documentaries, and Morgan Spurlock is an extremely entertaining and believable host. Morgan, who was dating to a vegan chef (of all things!) at the time, decides to eat only fast food for a whole month, and if the fast food place inquires as to whether he’d like to “super size” the meal, by his rules he is obligated to do so. A doctor takes his blood levels and health markers at the beginning of the film, so as to compare them to levels throughout the month. In the beginning of his journey, he’s pretty excited. He thinks his fast food tastes pretty darn good, actually and he thinks this won’t be such a difficult task. But as the movie progresses, poor Morgan begins to feel the effects of his drastically unhealthy diet and doctors are shocked at the toll the “food” has taken on his body. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for documentary and spurred the creation of a whole slew of ‘do it yourself” food documentaries.
Did I miss one of your favorites? Please share in the comments!