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12 Must-See Food and Health Documentaries

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Health DocumentariesPHOTO: JORDAN KRAVITZ

As we find ourselves smack in the middle of summer, there’s no better time to be outdoors and taking advantage of great weather than right now. But on some nights, the heat can simply be TOO much. In those cases, what’s one to do? Documentary binge on Netflix and other apps, of course!

While time spent outdoors, eating the right foods and adequate exercise can keep you in shape, sometimes you don’t know what more you can do, or what you can do better, until you learn about it. For example, a plethora of products here in the US that companies somehow pass off as food are full of additives and chemicals. While you might think you have a grasp on what it means to eat healthy, you might not know the facts about how your food is produced, and how certain ingredients in that food can impact your body. Simply put, an apple isn’t just an apple. A piece of salmon isn’t just a piece of salmon. There are variables that make all the difference.

So how can you make heads or tails of how to do right by your body? This is where information from sites like ours will come in handy, as well the real-life experiences of real people. And for those, you can turn to some incredible food and health documentaries that are available to you. Here’s a list of must-see films that will change the way you perceive food and health.

1. Food, Inc.

Filmmaker Robert Kenner pulls back the curtain on the money-driven world of food production. You’ll be exposed to the realities of the multinational corporate food business, where the health and safety conditions of workers and animals are utterly shocking. Available on Netflix, or you can get Food, Inc. from Amazon.

2. Super Size Me

If you’re looking for motivation to deep-six fast food forever, this is the documentary for you. Watching Morgan Spurlock live off of Mickey D’s for a full month will make you hum a certain tune about fast food in America, and it sounds nothing like “Ba Da Ba Ba Bah, I’m Lovin’ It!” Keep a close eye out for when they reveal what Chicken McNuggets are really made of – a chunk of my childhood was officially tainted afterward. To watch it now, get Super Size Me on Amazon.

3. Forks Over Knives

After watching this documentary, Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times proclaimed it “a film that can save your life.” The film presents a hypothesis that just about every degenerative disease can be controlled, and in most cases reversed, by abandoning processed and animal-based diets, in favor of a more plant-based one. And just for kicks, watching a macho fireman climb up a pole, shouting “Real men eat plants!” will almost certainly persuade you to have an open mind about the topic. Available on Netflix, or you can get Forks Over Knives on Amazon.

4. Vegucated

In this film you’ll follow the journey of three meat-and-dairy-eating New Yorkers who attempt to follow a strict vegan diet for six straight weeks. This documentary does a good job of exposing the food industry, as well as the way animals are treated in mass farming practices, and raising awareness for the importance of making healthier, smarter food choices. Available on Netflix, or you can get Vegucated on Amazon.

5. Food Matters

This film analyzes how the over-industrialization of food production is making our country sicker by the day, with a specific emphasis on how preservatives and chemicals are being added to foods and somehow marketed as “healthy” inclusions. The film also discusses the relationship between our nutrient-depleted diets and the rising cost of healthcare. Available on Netflix, or you can get Food Matters on Amazon.

Green Vegetables and SmoothiePHOTO: TATIANA BRALNINA/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

6. Fed Up

Back in the 90’s, you were led to believe that fat was the devil, and that foods labeled “low-fat” or “fat-free” were doing right by your health. What we discovered later on however, was that eating fat doesn’t make your fat – in fact, consuming the right fats is an important part of a healthy diet. We also learned that food manufacturers were replacing all that fat with flavor-enhancing sugars. This film highlights how the sugar avalanche has become the bane of the standard American diet. Available on Netflix, or you can get Fed Up on Amazon.

7. Fresh

This film celebrates the farmers and business people across America who are doing everything in their power to redefine the food system. This is a powerful documentary that takes an in-depth look at how both animals and produce crops are being raised, and the subsequent health implications of those practices. The film also offers insight into how we can go about restoring and repairing our food supply, which will leave you with a feeling of hope and empowerment. To watch it now, get Fresh on Amazon.

8. Ingredients

Filmmaker Robert Bates covers the rise of the local food movement, highlighting a stark contrast to the practices of the industrialized food world. Bates interviews farmers and chefs who are wildly passionate about producing fresh, healthy and seasonally-appropriate food. To watch it now, get Ingredients on Amazon.

9. Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days

Dr. Gabriel Cousens lays down a challenge to six Americans suffering from Diabetes: do away with sugar, alcohol, dairy, meat and other processed items, and take on a 100% organic, raw vegan diet. This film chronicles the journeys of these six people, and captures the physical and emotional changes that occur. Illuminating stuff, to say the least. To watch it now, get Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days on Amazon.

10. Hungry for Change

This film examines the shortcomings of commercial food production, and offers obscure facts and less-obvious truths about food and nutrition that are often missing from the mainstream narrative. The film also debunks weight loss and diet myths, and offers techniques to break unhealthy habits. Available on Netflix, or you can get Hungry for Change on Amazon.

11. The Future of Food

This film gained international attention for the anti-GMO grassroots movements that it sparked. The film documents how food corporatization, genetic food engineering, seed patenting and other modern food practices are altering what you eat, and along with it, your health. To watch it now, get The Future of Food on Amazon.

12. Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead

This one’s my personal favorite of the entire list. Filmmaker Joe Cross chronicles his quest to transform his health by taking on a 60-day juice diet across America. While Joe’s primary goal is to lose weight, get off medications and give himself a new lease on life, he ends up encountering all sorts of interesting people along his journey. One of those people is Phil Staples, a truck driver from middle America who can relate to Joe’s problems. Before you know it, Phil’s juicing too, and changing his life alongside Joe. This film might technically be about juicing, but it’s more about how getting out of your body’s way can allow it to heal, and how your community and surroundings can impact your health. This truly inspiring film is available on Netflix, or you can get Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead on Amazon now. Once you’re done with this one, you might be interested in the sequel, Fat Sick and Nearly Dead 2, which is available on Amazon or Netflix.

If you can get through even 1-2 of these films, you’ll be armed with the knowledge and motivation to effectuate some seriously positive health changes in your life. Happy viewing!

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