Since human history’s hunter-gatherer days, the task of acquiring food has come a long way. Food production and distribution has become a huge industry; farms all over the world and churn out tons of meat and produce each year. We know that there are more than 7 billion people on Earth, and that all of those people need to eat, but we also know that there are many issues involving the food industry that otherwise impact both human health and the environment. Most consumers are unaware of the true cost of their food. The toll that commercial farming and mass-production take on the environment is great. From polluted water run-off to the problems with monocultures, to agriculture’s impact on climate change, it’s important to understand the full ramifications of your daily diet.
Since the internet and the development of our ability to share information instantly, people have better access to knowledge about the food they’re eating, where it comes from, and what it does to their bodies and their environment. If you want to educate yourself more on the food industry and how it affects you, Ever since Upton Sinclair’s book, The Jungle was published in 1906, many thoughtful books have been written on food related topics. Many commentators have reviewed these publications over the years, but more recently, a plethora of documentaries have become available to choose from. These documentaries can provide provocative presentations on food related issues. Any viewer has to decide for him or herself what they feel is honest, objective analysis and what is not, but these thought-provoking documentaries are a few that I feel are worth exploring.
This documentary takes a hard look at the amount of sugar being pumped into food in the United States and how it affects our diets. The film examines the childhood obesity epidemic in the country and also examines how lobbyists have worked to prevent legislation that would affect the amount of sugar in food today from working its way through Congress.
More Than Honey
Whether you find bees scary or fascinating, this documentary is perfect for you! It takes a detailed look into how bee colonies and the production of honey works. Most people are unaware of the absolute dependency of many crops on healthy bee populations; this documentary highlights the pressing issue of how Colony Collapse Disorder and the dramatic reduction in bee populations could compromise global food production, and what the broader worldwide implications of this might be.
Food, Inc. gives you insight into the industry of corporate farming and how it affects the country. Divided into three parts, the documentary covers produce, meat production, and how big business exercises political power to stave off regulation of corporate farming. Be warned: this movie shows animal welfare abuses that can be quite upsetting to see.
A good follow-up to Food, Inc., this documentary takes a look at the struggles small farms face when they try to go up against the corporate farm industry. Many of these local farms are forced to shut down because they cannot compete with the mega-farms.
Super Size Me & Fat Head
Super Size Me was one of the original documentaries that addressed issues in the food industry (and it also made McDonald’s “pink paste” famous). Morgan Spurlock gained a significant amount of weight and experienced extreme health problems while filming it. Fat Head is comedian Tom Naughton’s response to Spurlock’s film. Naughton claims that he lost weight on a fast-food diet. Order a Big Mac and weigh the two documentaries to decide for yourself which is more convincing.
Sushi: The Global Catch
Sushi has become an increasingly popular food over the last few years, with more and more people all over the world desiring access to it. This documentary provides a conservationist view of the impossibility of sustaining current fishing industry practices and trends. It focuses on the problems associated with the fact that the main fish used in sushi, Pacific bluefin tuna, is in such high demand.