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12 food documentaries

Reviews — Posted 20/05/14

Delve into the wonderful world of food with these documentaries - and see the food we eat in a whole new light.

Food is central to life. Providing the nourishment to survive as well as playing a major cultural, social and culinary role, it’s become big business involving many players from paddock (or laboratory) to plate. From the production and marketing aspects to the sourcing and harvesting, the documentaries below remind us just how pivotal food is in our world. 

Fresh

Featuring leading food commentator Michael Pollan, Fresh focuses on the positive benefits of the sustainable food movement. Looking at ways we can all contribute to an efficient and local food production system, it champions moving away from mass produced, commercial food. 

King Corn

This doco follows two friends who move from Boston to Iowa to grow an acre of corn, looking to better understand where their food comes from. It’s an educational and, at times, humorous look at how food production is regulated and subsidised in the U.S. The documentary also follows the journey of the grain to the many food products it creates. 

Food Inc.

With the US food industry firmly in its sights, Food Inc. takes a look at the corporate farming and agriculture business. The documentary focuses on production of meat, vegetables and grains and also the commercial players impacting the food industry.

All in This Tea

A major hit at the Berlin, Amsterdam and San Francisco film festivals, All in This Tea follows the journey of David Lee Hoffman as he travels through China searching for the best handmade teas in the world. Shot on a handheld camera, the film is a raw and personal expedition through a foreign land. 

Candyman

This film documents the rise and fall of the man who invented Jelly Belly jelly beans. Eccentric candy inventor David Klein sold out before his product exploded into a billion dollar business and this doco spills the beans on why. 

The Truth About Food

For this BBC multi-part documentary, scientists were commissioned to look at the impact food has on us. From testing foods that make you healthy to foods to feed your kids, foods to help keep you slim and foods to stay young and beautiful, the series covers a range of entertaining and informative topics.

A Matter of Taste

The youngest chef to receive three stars from the New York Times, Paul Liebrandt reveals in this documentary his creative process and what’s involved in being a culinary genius. Famous chefs and critics contribute to this award-winning film. 

The Harvest

Award winning documentary The Harvest looks at the migrant children who work 12-14 hour days in farms across the U.S. The film profiles three children working to help their families survive while sacrificing their own education and childhood. 

Super Size Me

Independent filmmaker Morgan Spurlock eats only McDonald’s for one month, chowing down every item on the menu at least once. Throughout the month, Spurlock and a physician monitor the impact it has on his health, wellbeing and life. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Documentary Feature.

Ingredients

Ingredients examines the industrialised food system and the gap between the farm and the home. Noting the rise in chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease, the documentary features people who are shortening the food production chain and turning back the clock to bring it closer to home. 

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

This documentary introduces the world to Japanese sushi master Jiro and his two sons. At 85, Jiro is as passionate as ever about the art of sushi, and his 10-seat, 3 star Michelin awarded sushi restaurant is booked out months in advance. The film focuses on the intensity and respect Jiro has for his craft.

Fast Food Nation

Coupling drama and fact, this documentary film is based on a book by investigative journalist Eric Schlosser. Looking at the fast food industry, in particular McDonald’s, it hones in on the marketing and business of mass produced, fast food. With Hollywood stars aplenty, it reached a mainstream audience.

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