Starting at Thanksgiving and running all the way to the New Year, the holiday season is consistently highlighted by one thing: eating. But before you sit down at your holiday table, take a look at this list of great documentaries about food—some that celebrate what and how we eat, and others that will make you think twice about your relationship with food.
10. The Real Dirt on Farmer John (2005)
Free spirit Midwestern farmer John Peterson struggles to save his farm in the face of the declining agricultural system in America. Friend and director Taggart Siegel effectively uses John’s story to depict the larger picture of the decline of agrarian life and the rise of the community-based, local/organic food movement in the U.S. today.
9. Food Fight (2008)
Chris Taylor’s slick, ambitious documentary uses star-studded testimony by food celebrities like writer Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma) and Wolfgang Puck to tell the story of how food has changed in America, and to tout the growing organic-food movement. A worthy film, it makes effective arguments even if the dazzling array of culinary stars and the wide breadth of information sometimes leaves out the particulars.
8. All in This Tea (2007)
A lifelong obsession with tea takes aficionado David Lee Hoffman on a journey to the tea plantations and factories of China. Celebrated documentarian Les Blank follows him, using his hand-held camera to create an intimate, evocative film about the tastes, scents and, ultimately, people behind the best tea in the world.
7. The Price of Sugar (2007)
This devastating film about the deplorable, oppressive conditions of immigrant Haitian sugar cane workers in the Dominican Republic will make you think twice before sweetening your coffee. Paul Newman narrates the film directed by Bill Haney.
6. Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers (1980)
This ode to all things garlic is a sumptuous, loving tribute to the smelliest bulb that we eat. The famed Les Blank alternates visceral shots of garlic dishes being made with testimony about its health and culinary virtues from garlic experts in a passionate portrayal of all things pungent.