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4 Food Documentaries worth Watching

Posted by Edna B. Wilson on

Most people in the United States realize their neighbors and friends seem to be getting cancer and diabetes more frequently, and that more kids are overweight and not just chubby. According to the experts, kids need to exercise more, play outside, and get away from their computers and cell phones. And adults need to take better care of themselves and work out regularly. Young children are also getting cancer, which is something that is news to many of us, and frightening.

What many of us don’t realize is that it’s not that we’re lazy or lack will power, which is what most parents, our doctors and even the First Lady, Mrs. Obama, imply in one of the documentaries. That plays a part, yes, but it’s not the main culprit. We need to take a closer look at the food we eat and the fast food industries that create it. Simply put, instead of getting us healthy, most of the food we eat is making us sick. Most of these diseases and health related issues are preventable.

The four documentaries I reviewed below provide an overview of the food behind the health issues we’re facing as a country. Though their message may first appear negative and discouraging, there’s a silver lining here. People are taking action, becoming educated, and learning what choices they have about their food and where they purchase it, and from whom.

Super Size Me

Although we’ve heard an endless stream of data for years about how bad fast food is for you, this documentary really shows what has happened to the diet in our country. McDonald's takes the biggest hit in this film since they’re the largest fast food chain in the world, but they’re not the only culprit. We’ve grown into a country that is not just overweight but obese, and now it’s affecting our children too. In the battle of personal vs. corporate responsibility, who is really to blame?

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A different paradigm has been slowly gaining momentum and is now coming to the forefront of consciousness. Some farmers have been growing food on smaller tracts of land and creating sustainable practices. Often regarded as hippies or discounted as expensive organic farmers, this grassroots movement has become known as Buy Fresh, Buy Local.

One of the founding fathers of this movement, Will Allen, started Growing Power on 2 acres of urban desert in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Growing Power composts food waste, grows and sells produce year round, and provides urban education and work opportunities for area youth. Many cities around the Unites States have used his model to reconnect youth with the land and their food.

(The movie is for sale as a DVD or for groups at theatres or schools.)

King Corn

In this humorous look at corn, two guys move from Boston to the rural midwest of Greene, Iowa to plant an acre of corn and to reconnect with their family roots. Research shows that corn is in everything we eat, as it transfers down the food chain and is found in pork, chicken, beef. Corn often shows up on our grocery store shelves in obvious ways like cookies, bread, biscuits and gravy, spaghetti sauce. It appears on our food labels as corn starch, high fructose corn starch, carbohydrates, and sometimes just as sugar.

You can still enjoy some sweet corn but watch out for the other ways corn shows up in your diet. Too much of anything is bad for you, and many of us need to watch our grain consumption, anyways. Corn is part of what makes the American diet unique. Read food labels and make sure you know what you’re eating.

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Fed Up

Sugar, it turns out, is as addictive as cocaine and heroin. And the sugar industry is in it to make money, not to keep us healthy. While many blame kids for not exercising or being lazy, it goes further than that. According to this film, sugar, in its many forms, drives many of the weight issues in the United States.

Though it shouldn’t be a surprise, junk food companies are acting like tobacco companies did years ago; they take little to no responsibility for their actions. We think they’re looking out for us as consumers, but this industry is actually watching their bottom line and their profit margins.

Fed Up challenges everyone to give up sugar for 10 days – all sugar. Artificial sugar, sugar substitutes found in soda, bottled teas, cereals, sports drinks and hidden sources of sugar like yogurt, canned foods, flour products and ketchup.

Produced by Katie Couric, the Co-Founder of Stand up to Cancer and anchor at NBC and CBS news, this documentary talks about how the food we eat that’s filled with sugar, affects our health and increases our risk for cancer, diabetes, and other illnesses.

The good news? There’s plenty of that, too. The grassroots movement in the United States that asks us to Buy Fresh and Buy Local, eat organic, focus on whole foods, and know what’s in our food, has gained momentum and is getting much more press from the media.

Farmers markets, specialty grocers, urban farms and gardens, organic food cooperatives, small farms and sustainable farming practices are all part of the good food movement. Non-profit organizations like Katie Couric’s Stand up to Cancer are providing education from experts to make us more aware of what we’re eating. As it affects their bottom line and people are getting their food from other sources, some corporations are finally paying attention. Perhaps they will finally focus on getting us healthy, instead of making us sick.