Food Documentaries: Storytelling to combat our Obesity and Nutrition Wars
I have some favorite movies about celebrating food & eating which I’ll post on my food & travel site, Ms. Adventures in Italy. But what about the opposite end of the spectrum? Those movies which make you think twice before putting that food into your mouth? Over the past few years I’ve been very interested in learning more about where food comes from, how processing affects it, and what it means to trust big brands to supply us with nutritious food (a misnomer?) and the correct information regarding it.
While there are countless articles about what scientists are discovering, and about the impact of our agriculture processes on the food we eat and the choices we have available, I still think nothing makes as much impact as the images that movies and videos can provide us on this subject. We can read about obesity and the words stay the same shape, color, and size. When we watch something about obesity or food preparation, the colors and images are very difficult to ignore, and hit much closer to home.
Here are some documentaries and videos I’ve seen which I think have been really interesting – please share any I’ve missed in the comments. Serious Eats has an exhaustive list of environmental and food-related films which includes some uplifting / hopeful films, too.
Food, Inc. [website]
One of the first documentaries I watched which had a huge impact – particularly frightening is the focus on and ubiquitous presence of corn in America’s food.
Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead [website]
one two men used juicing of vegetables and fruit to free their bodies of toxins, get off their medicine, and reduce the impact of their (skin) disease.
The Skinny on Obesity [youtube channel]
This series is presented by the University of California and new episodes are being published even today. hat tip to Roni.
Some movies which I haven’t seen but they are on my shortlist:
The Weight of the Nation [website]
This 4-part documentary just premiered this month on HBO and you can see it online! The NPR Fresh Air interview about the film (very good, give it a listen) talked about the stories behind the obesity, and what I mentioned above – that it will start to hit home with people more than facts & figures in a black & white article. Storytelling.
King Corn [website]
Two recent college grads embark on a mission to find out where America’s food comes from, and they plant an acre of corn to see where it ends up. This is especially interesting to me because a few years ago, I noticed a lot of the food (read: candy) I loved is made with HFCS and corn is in everything. Everything. This makes me almost as angry as the fact now MSG and yeast extract are pervading food everywhere.
Here’s a good 20 minutes of the documentary:
Super Size Me [wikipedia]
A guy eats only McDonalds for 30 days.
Fast Food Nation [wikipedia]
Not a documentary, this film is a dramatization of a fictitious town, fast food company, meat processing plant, and its illegal workers. I don’t think it’s too far off the mark.