Films about Food
Film is an incredible tool for effecting change in the food system with its unique ability to educate, inspire, and grow the movement for sustainable food and farming. Film can transport viewers to unseen territories, from Colombian coffee-growing regions to the bottom of the ocean, and unveil the stories, struggles, and triumphs of those working in the hidden fabric of the food of system.
Powerful films can help spark worldwide awareness and debate on some of the most pressing food and agriculture issues, as well as reinforce and reenergize environmental and sustainability activism efforts. Food Tank has curated a list of 16 recent food films that inspire, outrage, and mobilize. Help grow this list by adding favorite films and suggestions in the comments section.
“A Place at the Table” investigates the issue of hunger in the United States and how it affects nearly 50 million American lives. The film follows the stories of three people suffering from food insecurity: Barbie, a single Philadelphia mother, Rosie, a Colorado fifth-grader, and Tremonica, a Mississippi second-grader with several health problems. With appearances by Jeff Bridges, Raj Patel, chef Tom Colicchio, and many other food activists, the film demonstrates how the problem of hunger can be solved once and for all if the American public and government mobilize to make healthy food available and affordable for all citizens.
A film two years in the making, “Blue” travels across Indonesia, the Philippines, Hawaii, and Australia to capture stand-out ocean and marine life stories. Featuring passionate advocates for ocean preservation, “Blue” explores subjects such as industrial-scale fishing, marine habitat destruction and species loss, and the world’s plastic pollution problem, diving deep into the issues that are driving mass ocean change around the globe. A combination of investigative journalism, underwater cinematography, and public awareness campaign, “Blue” both documents and encourages a global movement to save the world’s oceans.
“Bugs” follows chefs and researchers Josh Evans, Ben Reade, and Roberto Flore from the Nordic Food Lab around the world as they explore how to forage, farm, cook, and taste insects. Film director Andreas Johnsen traces their journey across Europe, Australia, Mexico, Kenya, Japan and beyond to learn from some of the two billion people who eat insects worldwide. Throughout their experiences and conversations in the field, the lab, at farm visits, and international conferences, the team explore the possibilities and challenges for scaling-up insect production.
Focusing on the social and cultural components of the coffee supply chain, “Caffeinated” takes viewers on a journey from the farmers responsible for growing a perfect bean to the roasters and baristas responsible for brewing a perfect cup. Working with one of the foremost green coffee buyers in the world, Geoff Watts, filmmakers Hanh Nguyen and Vishal Solanki travel to leading coffee producing countries and America’s most populous coffee-drinking cities, interviewing farmers, researchers, and connoisseurs alike. “Caffeinated” reveals that farmers are the lynchpin to the more than 1 billion cups of coffee enjoyed each day and affirms the necessity for sustainably produced coffee beans.
“Dolores” tells the story of lifetime activist Dolores Huerta, who worked alongside Cesar Chavez for better working conditions for Latino farmworkers and women’s rights. Directed by Peter Bratt, the documentary chronicles Huerta’s time with the United Farm Workers union—which she co-founded with Chavez in the 1960s—and the racial and economic injustices she experienced in California’s agricultural Central Valley. It also captures Huerta’s key achievements, including her central involvement in a national grape boycott and the historic farmworkers march to Sacramento in 1966, as well as receiving The Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in 2012.
“Farmland” takes an intimate look at the lives of six young American farmers and ranchers, all of whom are under the age of 30 and responsible for running their farming business. Director James Moll travels across the United States to profile those who have not only carried on their family’s profession for generations but are also at the forefront of a new era in American agriculture. The documentary, made with the support of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, aims to tell the farmers’ side of the agriculture production story, detailing the high-risks and high-rewards inherent in getting food from farm to fork.
7. Fed Up
Narrated by Katie Couric, “Fed Up” is an American documentary film focusing on the causes of obesity in the U.S., and the government’s role in both its prevention and spread. The film traces the history of processed foods, the dangerous and increasing levels of sugar and sweeteners that have been added to them over time, and their contribution to childhood obesity and diet-related disease. It also follows the rise of the major companies and players in the sugar industry, pointing to the lobbying power of “Big Sugar” in blocking and influencing policies and regulations for sweetened food and drinks.
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