If you haven't seen some or all of the documentaries we are recommending here, for you to watch, know that the food documentary experience is definitely a journey.
When I, Chef Janine, first began reading food industry books and watching food related documentaries some 10+ years ago, I was first surprised how little I knew as a food professional. Empowered with knowledge, I was then fascinated and ticked off at the same time.
People’s willpower and desire to live healthy lives has never changed, yet the food environment has changed. Food manufacturers are evidently about maximizing profits, not maximizing public health. Ironically today, while unhealthy foods are cheap and literally everywhere --checkout lines, at the gas station, and available for quick pickup on the way home from anywhere with drive-thrus-- we are forced to pay considerably more for real food (natural, organic, raw, unprocessed, etc.) that our grandparents ate.
So, if you haven't done so already, give a few of the documentaries listed below a try, or at least watch the trailers. You will be enlightened about what goes into your mouth each day.
In Food, Inc. (2008), filmmaker Robert Kenner shows us the not-so-pretty underbelly of our nation’s food industry. The American food system is about mega-corporations producing huge amounts of uniform foods at the cheapest price for consumers. In Food Inc. Kenner shows us the real costs of putting profits ahead of everything else, including our health, the livelihood of American farmers, food industry workers, and the environment.
Filmmaker Jeremy Seifert travels to Haiti, Paris, Norway, and even to agri-giant Monsanto to ask questions about genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In OMG GMO, Seifert also explores the systematic takeover of seeds. Who owns the future of our crops? And how does this affect public health? Is our food system being hijacked? Or is there a movement to take back the purity and biodiversity of our food? This movie has its critics, and all documentaries like to go to the extreme to influence; however, I have my opinions about genetically engineered (GE) food. OMG, more on that to come.
What the Health
What the Health was written, produced, and directed in 2017 by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, and is deemed as “The Health Film That Health Organizations Don’t Want You To See.” It doesn’t take a PhD to understand that big dollars are behind prescriptions, procedures, and animal-based foods, and these industries fund the very health organizations trying to combat chronic diseases. Another key takeaway from What the Health— if you think excess sugar is the primary cause of diabetes, you might be surprised, as several leading physicians link insulin resistance to fat (consuming lots of meat and dairy).
Hungry for Change
This 2012 film helps you better understand “the Diet Trap” and how we are surrounded by marketing myths about diet and nutrition (hint: diet cola won’t help you lose weight and neither will a chocolate energy bar). The labels “sugar free” and “fat free” bombard us from all directions, yet these foods are filled with unhealthy ingredients to make us crave more “diet food.” Who’s hungry for change?
There are over 600,000 food products offered in the United States, and over 80% of those products have added sugar. Fed Up explores how the government has overlooked the impact that sugar and processed foods has had on the increasing risks of obesity and diabetes, particularly in children. As the relationship between a high-sugar diet and poor health continues, industries that profit pour endless lobbying dollars into preventing parents, schools, and lawmakers from offering healthier options. But as long as we’re calling pizza a vegetable, then we’re all eating healthy, right?
TED Talks – Chew On This
These 15-20 minute short clips are on You Tube and Netflix, featuring 8 speakers who have given TED Talks on various food-related topics. Episode 1 will grab your attention as chef Jamie Oliver dumps a wheelbarrow of sugar representing the 5-year elementary school intake of sugar for one American child—and that’s just from milk. The winner of the 2010 TED Prize, Oliver is on a mission to teach families about eating better and living healthier lives.