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The 10 Best Food Documentaries of All Time

December 14, 2009  |  7:00am
The 10 Best Food Documentaries of All Time
5. King Corn (2007)

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The most subsidized and ubiquitous American crop is explored in this documentary about two friends who plant an acre of corn and follow it from seed to food products. Director Aaron Woolf presents a provocative film about America’s increasingly controversial agricultural staple.

4. The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil (2006)

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In the face of economic embargo from the West and the fall of the Soviet Union in 1990, Cuba’s access to fossil fuels dropped dramatically. In an effort to remain self-sufficient in this crisis, the island country managed to transition successfully from huge, oil-dependent plantations to small organic farms and urban gardens. Filmmaker Faith Morgan centers her story on agriculture, not politics, in an instructive and hopeful film about how to deal with the economic and environmental uncertainties of our future.

3. Our Daily Bread (2006)

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Austrian filmmaker Nikolaus Geyrhalter unflinchingly presents a stark, cruelly beautiful look at industrialized food production in Western Europe. With no narration, no information about specific locations and little exposition, Geyrhalter’s unique approach skillfully and powerfully presents all the information needed to inspire the viewer to question the source of their food.

2. Super Size Me (2004)

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At turns funny, outrageous and disturbing, celebrity documentarian Morgan Spurlock steps in front of the camera to participate in a 30-day experiment in fast-food eating. Eating McDonald’s morning, noon and night causes him numerous health problems at an alarmingly immediate rate. A picture is worth a thousand words, and Spurlock’s brutally honest depiction of the multiple, often ugly, physical and emotional ailments resulting from his new diet is the most effective cautionary tale that could have been made about the most ubiquitous fast-food chain in America.

1. Food, Inc. (2009)

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Director Robert Kenner creates a persuasive and utterly effective diatribe against 21st-century food production and eating practices in the U.S. He travels from slaughterhouses to agricultural conglomerates to family farms to explore the fallout of the ways we consume food. Discussing the obesity epidemic, health disasters like e. coli outbreaks and political apathy, Kenner highlights the crises that have come from the corporatization of food production in this country. Kenner makes no attempt to veil his personal opinions on the subject, but his effective interviews with writers Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma) and Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) and with the sympathetic lobbyist whose son died of e. coli from tainted meat, Kenner makes a convincing argument. He uses witty illustrations and some eccentric, but lovable, small-time players in the production chain to make an impressive case for a movement to non-mass-produced food. Little else will make you re-evaluate your eating habits like this groundbreaking film.

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