The presidential candidacy brings up many political talking points – war, environment,
healthcare. One that isn’t discussed at length is what our basic survival depends on: food. The food industry is one of the largest global industries, and as such, its business is inextricably tied to our politics, government, economy, and healthcare. For those who have already seen these 10 documentaries here are nine more, each focusing on a different fascinating section of the way food ends up on our table.
From producers Eva Longoria, Abigail Disney and Eric Schlosser, this documentary covers the exploitation of laborers in agriculture. The story focuses on a group of workers in Immokalee, Florida who form a coalition and go on a hunger strike to entreat Publix Super Market to pay a penny more per pound of tomato. It won the James Beard Foundation Award in 2015.
In Farmageddon, a mom goes on a mission to illustrate how government regulations affect small farms. The wide brush strokes for farms are applied to farms of all sizes, benefiting the large ones and hindering the small.
In 2009, a 90-minute youtube lecture, Sugar, The Bitter Truth by Pediatric Endocrinologist, Dr. Robert Lustig, went viral. In this film, Sugar Coated, he delves deeply into the country’s relationship with sugar, its effects on human health and the politics and PR at play.
You might want to put your hamburger down when you turn this movie on. This documentary, directed Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn and executive produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, demonstrates how animal agriculture affects the environment more than the transportation industry and questions why this information isn’t at the focus of environmental groups. It develops a conspiracy theory about environmentalists cowtowing to the power of the meat industry, and is cleverly titled.
Tracking the obesity epidemic in the US, this film explores the country’s relationship with weight, food and government. While there is the belief that weight gain is calories in versus calories out, the film explains how certain food causes more weight gain regardless of calories, and how the food industry’s marketing and politics seeks to have people believe otherwise.
From the brains behind the China Study nutritional guide, Professor T. Colin Campbell and Doctor Thomas Campbell, comes a film that breaks down the breakdown of American health and healthcare. The book’s thesis is that a plant-based diet helps avoid chronic illnesses that plague the US. The film goes on to express the concern that MDs don’t study nutrition in med school, and that the medical treatment of most health problems is based solely off prescription, rather than taking a look into what’s on our plates.
In the U.S., obesity and hunger ironically, and sadly, go hand in hand. Healthy foods keep
getting more expensive, while processed foods are getting cheaper. For those living below the poverty line, the choice to eat healthy food isn’t there. The documentary explores the politics and government involvement and how policy affects the production and cost of food.
GMO OMG takes a closer look into the controversial food issues with genetically modified organisms (GMOs). GMO usage has drastically altered the way we raise crops in the United States. The majority of food in American super markets contains GMOs, and the point is argued that they are used for a plentiful food supply. Its effects on health and other agriculture remain a question mark, and internationally, many countries reject foods that contain GMOs. Other controversies arise in the legal realm, where patents are put on seeds.
Water, a resource human life cannot go without, is becoming more and more of a commodity. Bottled Life investigates Nestlé’s bottled water empire, and the result comes up a little less than pristine. As if the waste created by bottled water weren’t enough to discourage consumers, this film demonstrates the damage it is doing on a socioeconomic level. The documentary goes behind the scenes, interviewing locals in the U.S. and abroad as to what happens when Nestlé purchases one of the local springs and starts bottling the water en masse.
Madina Papadopoulos is a New York-based freelance writer, author, and regular
contributor to Paste. You can follow her adventures on Instagram and Twitter.