Winter is a cold time of year in most parts of the country, with shorter days and more time spent indoors. One of my favorite hobbies (besides gardening) is watching movies. I have been a film buff since I was a kid and had actually contemplated going to film school. Instead, I majored in horticulture and environmental sciences. But while in college I did take a documentary film class. Documentaries about our food system are a very hot topic right now. There are many great films available for viewing that talk about food, growing, industrial agriculture, fast food, community gardens, etc. Some have a more positive view and some just present the cold hard truth of the matter. I thought I would share with you some of the films I have seen over this past year, you may want to view one or all of them during these cold months of winter. Many are available from your local rental store, library, Netflix or online.
The Future of Food is a 2-disc set is a great introduction to our food system and GMO’s. There are also some great shorts about food in our school systems, seed saving and farmer’s markets.
One of my personal favorites, Super Size Me is about the month long adventure of Morgan Spurlock eating only McDonald’s fast food. I never ate at McDonald’s before this film but if you do, you will not think about it afterwords. Morgan is a great film maker and has a unique way of bringing everyday issues to the forefront in an entertaining way. Also, check out his 30 Days films available on DVD.
Food, Inc. was a very popular documentary film in theaters this past summer and is now available on DVD. This film is a hardcore look at industrial agriculture and how it is now working. This film is not for the faint of heart, but it does show you what happens when you have to produce food in mass quantities. I love this film and the film Fresh, because they both highlight the great work of Joel Salatin. I had the privilege I hearing Joel and his family speak in the mid-90’s before he was a farming superstar. His way of farming is so unique and I think could be duplicated to varying degrees depending on what environment you are farming in. I am glad Joel has received some lime-light for the great work he has done for so many years. Fresh is also a great film and has a little more positive spin to it, than Food, Inc. If you want ideas to make some changes, Fresh is a great place to start.
King Corn is a film about how corn is so infused in our food system. This is a great documentary film; I was pleasantly surprised how well the story-lines were presented and how welcoming this small farming community was to the film makers.
The Garden is about a community garden in the heart of LA. This is an amazing documentary filmed over many years. Warning: the ending is a surprise and somewhat troubling. But the filmmakers did a great job telling an amazing story.
Ingredients really celebrates the ingredients that make up a great meal, with small, local agriculture. Some great interviews with chefs and farmers.
Urban Sustainable Living with Patti Moreno, The Gardening Girl is very inspiring. This is a great series of how to videos aimed at the urban/city gardener. After watching it, I was almost inspired to make my own yarn!
The Botany of Desire is a recent PBS special now available on DVD based on Michael Pollan’s best-selling book by the same title. Plants are amazing and mankind has been manipulating them for a long time. This film explores the world of four amazing plants and our interactions with them.
This will give you a few films to view during these cold winter months. If you want just pure entertainment, I would highly recommend the new DVD release Julie & Julia, a great film for foodies. If you want to take an outing to your local theater, the uplifting film The Blind Side, based on a true story is worth your time. Next time, some book and magazine suggestions!