Preview of 10 Food Documentaries
I truly believe that education is the key to change and, unfortunately, we need to educate ourselves when it comes to eating healthy. Here’s a quick review of 10 food documentaries that have helped with my education.
Food Matters https://www.foodmatters.com/films
This documentary takes a deep-dive into the subpar food we eat, from (lack of) nutrients in the ground, and in the food, all the way up to the medicines we take, claiming we have “a pill for every ill”. We think we're eating food, but we’re really just filling our stomachs. Most of the stuff we're putting in our bodies is dramatically removed from the stuff that grows in the ground or is hunted. In fact, the stuff on shelves is filled with so many artificial flavors and additives, and lacking nutrients, that it's contributing to an epidemic of Western malnutrition and chronic diseases. Food Matters exposes this health dilemma—along with pharmaceutical companies' interests—and tells us it's not a trip to the doctor that will solve our health problems. Rather, it's the foods on our plates; we just have to be conscious of our eating habits and make better choices.
Forks Over Knives (Netflix)
Forks Over Knives is perhaps the best known food documentary ever made. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times called this documentary “a film that can save your life,” and Dr. Oz said everyone needs to see it. The movie makes no bones about linking America's meat- and dairy-based diet to the rampant metabolic health crisis. Their solution is simple; a whole foods, plant-based diet that’s devoid of processed foods and oils. While this movement seems to be gaining more followers, when the film was released in 2011, it’s ideas where shocking. The film takes an aggressive stance against both the meat and dairy industries. Not only does the film claim a plant-based diet free of processed foods is necessary for optimal health, but they go so far as to say that most degenerative diseases can be controlled or reversed by ditching animal-based and processed foods.
This movie dives into how our food is made, including everything from the meat industry to large-scale production of veggies and grains. It details how the food and agricultural industries have cheapened and quickened food production over the last 50 years, which happens to be great for business. The film also reveals the laws that are in place to protect the food industry so they can place profits above everything else, including your health.
Hungry For Change http://www.hungryforchange.tv/ (also on Hulu)
As the title implies, this movie is about change. If you're tired of feeling tired and ready to make a shift toward clean eating, Hungry For Change is the documentary that will show you how to make it happen. The film explores how processed foods aren't designed to provide nutritional benefits; they're designed to make us addicted to them. They also show that we can’t trust the diet industry either. If you're not convinced that giving up processed foods will make that big of a difference when it comes to your health or weight, this film will change your mind.
Sometimes it helps to see how people similar to us can be impacted by what they eat. The next 3 films do just that. First, Vegucated follows three omnivores as they attempt a six-week vegan challenge to eliminate meat and dairy from their diet. Along the way the filmmakers expose the harmful practices of the livestock industry and showcase the long-term health benefits of eating vegan foods. In addition to tracking the weight loss of the omnivores, we hear how a plant-based diet also improved how they felt. If you’re vegan-curious, the film does a great job of explaining what "going vegan" really means and the difficulties and benefits of making this big lifestyle shift.
Super Size Me
Who hasn’t heard of Super Size Me? It’s one of the first food documentaries (2004) and is still a classic. If you’re not aware of the storyline, Morgan Spurlock decides to eat at McDonald’s three times a day for 30 days. One of his rules is that anytime the cashier asks if he’d like to supersize his meal, he has to agree – hence the title. Spoiler alert: his physical and mental health decline as the month progresses. Even his doctors are shocked by the effects of his fast food diet in such a short timeframe. Yes, eating any fast food for 90 straight meals is extreme, however, even the adage “all things in moderation” seems like terrible advice when it comes to fast food.
Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead http://www.fatsickandnearlydead.com/ (Hulu)
On the other end of the supersize spectrum, is Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead during which Joe Cross embarks on a 30 day juice cleanse. The fact that he’s 100 pounds overweight and suffers from a debilitating autoimmune disease is the impetus for his journey. Rather than just sitting at home while he makes this movie, Cross puts his juicer in his trunk and travels across the country sharing his story with the overweight people he meets along the way. As a result, the film includes a number of inspiring stories of individuals who were inspired to redesign their diet and exercise habits and earned a new lease on life. If you enjoy this movie, be sure to check out Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2.
This film takes a hard look at the government’s role in our current healthcare dilemma. For example, did you know that Congress counts pizza as a vegetable? It’s true: In 2011, Congress passed a bill that said two tablespoons of tomato paste was a vegetable, thereby qualifying pizza as a school-lunch-approved meal. The film explains how something like this can happen. Hint: the agra- and sugar-industry lobbyists are extremely powerful and they prevent any meaningful legislation that protects our health from passing. Remember when the weight loss industry pointed the finger at fat? The food industry was more than happy to develop fat-free products. In the process of removing the fat, they simply added more sugar. This Katie Couric-backed documentary looks at our staggering rates of obesity and puts much of the science-f
Simply put, you can’t call yourself an environmentalist and eat meat. Cowspiracy examines animal agriculture and explains how it is the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution, is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry, and is a primary driver of rainforest destruction, species extinction, habitat loss, topsoil erosion, ocean “dead zones,” and virtually every other environmental ill. He sits down with people from leading environmental organizations (Greenpeace, Sierra Club, Rainforest Action Network, Oceana, etc.) only to discover what appears to be an intentional refusal to discuss the issue of animal agriculture. “Cowspiracy may be the most important film made to inspire saving the planet.” – Louie Psihoyos, Oscar-winning director of The Cove. If Cowspiracy made you think, be sure to check out What the Health from the same creators. This time they find collusion and corruption in the government and big business and its impact on the healthcare industry. Also, check out What the Health which was made by the same people.
PlantPure Nation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBKnG9Y0owQ
If you watched Forks Over Knives, you’re familiar with Dr. T. Colin Campbell. This documentary takes over where FOK left off, as Dr. Campbell’s son, Nelson, attempts to introduce a bill to the Kentucky Legislature. The bill calls for a pilot program designed to use a plant-based diet in a state with one of the highest childhood obesity rates in the nation. Surprise, the bill gets turned down. Not to be deterred, he takes his program to his hometown and encourages people to participate in a 10-day “Jumpstart” program. Included in the film are the biometric test results for participants of the program. You’ll be surprised at what happens in just 10 days on a plant-based diet.
Every time I watch a food documentary I think “Why don’t we know this information?” The answer to that question deserves its own blog post. However, I do think it’s important that we take matters into our own hands and educate ourselves. These documentaries are a great place to start.