One of the first things that got me interested in food was a documentary we watched in my high school health class. I love documentaries because they bring together all the necessary facts and knowledge to illustrate someone’s point of view. Today I’m bringing you some of my favorite documentaries about food and plants. These films have changed how I eat and think about food – I hope they have a positive effect on your life, too!
Super Size Me
This was the documentary I saw in health class that got me interested in food. In this Academy-Award nominated film Morgan Spurlock eats only McDonald’s for 30 days. He checks in with doctors over the course of the month as his weight and cholesterol climb and as he experiences heart palpitations, depression and sexual dysfunction. When it’s over it takes Spurlock over a year to lose the weight he gained. Find it on Hulu.
When this movie came out I was working at Justin’s Nut Butter. We all went to see it together. It opened my eyes to the industrial agriculture we have here in the US and I’ve seen it about a half-dozen times since. Also nominated for Best Documentary, this film covers the industrial production of meat and produce and the economic and legal power of the major food companies. Focusing on issues like consumer information and monoculture, this is a must-see for anyone interested in knowing about their food. It’s narrated by Michael Pollan, a prolific author on the subject of food, most notably The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Find it on Netflix.
The Future of Food
This film focuses on genetically engineered foods and the power the comes with them. If a neighboring farm plants a patented seed, like Monsanto’s Roundup Ready Corn, and they cross-pollinate with your corn, you will be liable for patent infringement! Industrial seeds often have a terminator gene so that farmers must buy seeds to plant every year – imagine if this gene contaminated wild plants! This film also looks at the problems associated with monoculture and how subsidized US corn is driving the biodiversity of heirloom varieties of corn out of Mexico. Find it on Netflix and on Hulu.
Dirt! The Movie
Dirt is incredibly important. It makes lands fertile, keeps erosion in check and recycles nutrients. This film explores the relationship between humans and soil – how we’ve been destroying it with industrial nitrogen fertilizers, fighting over it, and destroying rainforests trying to find it. Find it on Netflix and on Hulu.
The Botany of Desire
This last film is my favorite. In his TV documentary, based on the book of the same name, Michael Pollan explores the symbiotic relationship between humans and four plants: apples, tulips, potatoes and marijuana. This film is really cerebral because it forces you to consider the plant’s point of view. Pollan goes over how each plant was discovered and how it made itself essential to humans, ensuring its propagation. Find it on Netflix and on Hulu Plus.