Ahh, I’ve been waiting two whole weeks to make this post because I wanted to make sure that I’d done as much research on these documentaries as possible. Most of those I mention below I have watched. A few I’ve had a hard time finding *sigh* and therefore haven’t watched (yet).
I think the majority of these, if not all, are excellent, scientifically based, and fair-minded. There are others who’d probably disagree with me, but honestly, the experts interviewed have books, blogs, websites, etc., where you can find out their sources. Plus, there are many research studies out there, posted on the web and written in magazines and journals, that back up their words.
The very first documentary one should watch, that I’ve wanted to watch for years since I saw a portion about chickens, is Food, Inc. You could also watch Fast Food Nation (FFN), though I think Food, Inc. does a great job of expounding on the problems discussed in FFN. Food, Inc. is all about the industrialization of our food, and its consequences on health, the environment, the farmers and workers, and law.
Please note: I am not a vegan or vegetarian. I believe that we, as people, should eat more whole foods based on plants because of the massive health benefits. I don’t think eating animals is a sin. It is a choice, just as eating processed junk is also a choice. I believe that people should reconnect with their food, whether its through a small square-foot garden or farmer’s markets or going to a farm for naturally-fed meats. We as people need to take back the control over our food so as to reduce our chances of deadly disease. As Jamie Oliver on TED Talks: Chew on This (Netflix, first episode) points out, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer kill far more people each year than the dangers we obsess over as a society–homicide, suicide, and car accidents (to name a few).
After watching a documentary on what is wrong with our way of food production, I suggest watching a few success stories. The first is Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead (Netflix), which follows Joe Cross, an Australian who comes to American to do a doctor-supervised 60-day juice fast to help correct his weight problems and skin disorder. Not only does Joe transform his own life, he changes the life of a trucker he meets at a truck stop, and very possibly saves his life…and through this man, starts a health revolution within the trucker’s community.
The second, which I have not been able to watch except in small clips on YouTube, is May I Be Frank? It follows Frank Ferrante on a lifestyle change and 42-day journey through self-change (just the beginning of a great change that eventually took place). Through his exploration of vegetarianism, affirmations (positive statements said in the present that helps with cognitive restructuring), and finding acceptance and love for himself so that he could better love those in his life.
The next three, all of which I have watched on Netflix, are great documentaries on the help food gives to a body’s natural healing processes. The first is Hungry for Change, which discusses the diet and dieting industries and the food additives that keep you going back for the same things and, in the process, cause you to gain weight. This, I think, was my favorite of the three because it is the most accessible to people, most open to giving power back to the eater (rather than the industry) to actually eat good food.
This is the sister video of Food Matters. This I consider to be the most “in your face.” It discusses the power of a plant-based diet and vitamins, and compares them to the pharmaceutical company. I thought it was a fair video because it doesn’t negate the necessity of pharmaceuticals, but it does state that people should not be on pills the rest of our lives. Experts from around the world’s western countries suggest another way and hope that western modern medicine will start incorporating a more whole-life approach to medicine rather than just the proscription of drugs.
The last of these, which I actually watched first, is called Forks Over Knives. The experts here discuss the science and medical research behind the benefits of whole foods, plant-based diets. I loved this one because it follows the careers of two older men who’ve spent their lives studying food from the biochemical and medical professions. It’s very fascinating and, I think, the most scientifically based.
I wanted to put these out there not to change your mind but to get you thinking. It is so easy to go shopping and wander through the aisles like zombies. Here are a couple ways of taking control of your food options:
- Read labels, not logos or promises: the fewer the ingredients that you can read and understand, the better.
- Minimize processed foods that are high in sugar, fat, and salt; and don’t fall for “fat-free,” “low-fat,” and “sugar-free” gimmicks (to name a few).
- Spend the money at farmers markets on produce, or farms for dairy/eggs/meat: in general, it’s better for you and you can chat with the growers/producers on how they grow/produce/care for their products.
- Start a small garden: yes, it’s more work, but it also gets you back in contact with the earth, your diet, and your taste buds–home-grown food tastes the best! If you don’t have the space to do a square-foot garden, use some large pots, window boxes, etc.
- Find a butcher and ask him where his products come from and how they’re raised: this personalizes your shopping experience and I guarantee your meats will taste better.
- Consider starting/suggesting a community garden: a lot of cities have wasted space that are too small to change into parking lots and buildings–why not transform them into gardens? A recent American Council on Exercise study I just read said that those who participated in a community garden had healthier hearts/bodies and weighed much less.
- Be okay with relearning how to eat: real food tastes different!
It’s all about awareness. Being better informed allows us to make better choices. However you do it, take control of your food-eating options. Fast food is easy in the short term, but boy is it expensive when considering the long-term health effects. Take control of your health and transform your life, and have fun while doing so!