10 Top Documentary Food Films

by Sarah Henry on March 6, 2010 · 185 comments

in food films

Since Food, Inc. is up for an Oscar on Sunday, it seems as good a time as any to compile a list of documentary food films worth watching.

A recent post on favorite feature films that focus on food garnered a lot of comments — and sparked a movie mystery that remains unsolved. For cinematic sleuths, check out the comments by “can’t remember,” and see if you can put your finger on the name of the mystery flick.

Thanks to regular readers Susan Rubin and Margaret Phillips for input for this post.

In alpha order, a list of ten real food films worth viewing while noshing on a modest-sized serving of organic, non-GMO popcorn.

1. Dirt: The Movie (2009)

A funny, thoughtful, and, um grounded look at the fundamental ingredient vital to everything that feeds us.

2. Food Fight (2008)

An amusing account of modern American ag policy and food culture that sprouted a counter-revolution among veggie-obsessed Californians.

3. Food, Inc. (2008)

The rock stars of the ethical eating movement — Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser — weigh in on all that is wrong in America’s industrialized food system. Methinks my son summed up this film best: “Sometimes the scariest films are the ones that are real.”

4. Fresh (2009)

Down with the corporate behemoths of the American food economy who threaten the country’s food security, livelihood of small farmers, and our choices as consumers. This doco features fresh thinking from urban farming activist Will Allen and sustainable farmer Joel Salatin.

5. Killer at Large (2008)

This film tackles the giant-sized topic of America’s obesity epidemic with talking heads and the story of a 12-year-old who undergoes liposuction.

6. King Corn (2007)

Two friends head to the heartland to learn a thing or two about how food is farmed and where food comes from.

7. Super Size Me (2004)

Cult classic with Morgan Spurlock eating his way to bad health on a month’s worth of Maccas. Required viewing for fast food fans.

8. The Garden (2008)

A group of mostly working class, Latino South Central Farmers fought the good fight — and they’re still at it — for the basic human need to grow food, in this Academy Award nominated film.

9. The Future of Food (2004)

Deborah Koons Garcia reveals the unappetizing truth about genetically modified foods: Do you really know what you’re dishing up for dinner?

10. The Real Dirt on Farmer John (2006)

A flamboyant farmer turns his family’s dying farm into a thriving CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Bonus: He flaunts a feather boa while driving his tractor.

11. Food Stamped (2010?)

Special mention to a work-in-progress: A film-and-food couple reveal how hard it is to eat well on a really tight budget.

Okay, what’s missing — or doesn’t deserve to be in this line up? You know you have an opinion, oh yes you do. Let me know below.

You might also like:

What’s on Your Plate? Food for Thought for All Ages
Food, Inc. May Make You Lose Your Lunch
Food Stamped: A Film For Our Times
A Shout Out for The Garden
Favorite Food Films

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{ 155 comments… read them below or add one }

mina October 4, 2011 at 3:19 pm

No mention of “Dying to Have Known” or “The Beautiful Truth”? Just sayin.

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emilee December 22, 2011 at 7:16 pm

yes! :) to all of them!

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Priscilla October 13, 2011 at 10:31 am

Forks over Knives and Food Matters are missing from your list. I have watched both of these twice and am sure to watch them again. I am now a vegetarian and in the best shape of my life. I have also introduced these two films to two friends of mine. Not only are they now vegetarians but so are their boyfriends.

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Kacy January 17, 2012 at 3:17 pm

I completely agree! Forks Over Knives & Food Matters, along withFood Inc, have completely transformed our diet. Myself, husband, and children eat a Vegan diet and are in the best health of our lives. As a cancer survivor, I knew there had to be more to disease than genetics. I’m saddened that we cannot trust our doctors for good nutritional advice. We must take responsibility for our health through the basic avenue of diet. Education on food and nutrition is so important.

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Brenda January 22, 2012 at 9:38 am

Totally agree…. Forks Over Knives is life changing!

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Brenda January 22, 2012 at 9:40 am

(oops… and Food Matters, too!)

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Scott March 1, 2012 at 4:18 pm

lol, it is nice to hear other people feel the same……. I watched exactly these documentaries, I haven’t touched meat or dairy since. I work on a large boat with 20 other people and they think I am crazy, none of them will sit down and watch these documentaries, one guy even has a brother dying of colon cancer and still wont even hear me out or watch them. The more I delve into food, how it is produced and how unsustainable it is, the more depressed I am getting, but it is good to know that there are some people out there that feel the same.

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adriana April 1, 2012 at 7:20 pm

I agree with you…it’s so frustrating to know this information and want to pass it on and yet have stubborn brain washed individuals who can’t accept that YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT!!. Don’t give up.

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Jenni April 24, 2012 at 5:02 am

I used to be the kind of person who didn’t want to know what was behind the iron curtain of the supermarket shelves. Then I saw a few shows like Food Inc, and was like, yes that’s gross and mean but I still want a nice steak now and then, i’ll buy grass feed, blah blah blah… BUT after Forks Over Knives I know the truth: There is a cure for cancer and steak makes me wanna puke! Many people in my life have had or still have cancer and when people won’t even watch the film I feel like strapping them in a chair and propping open their eyes to make them watch these kind of documentaries! Now when I might feel like cheating on death food (anything with melted cheese) I’ll watch some videos from PETA and that helps me stay strong in my knowledge that I wont be dying from cancer anytime soon! Not only have I lost 56lbs (still have tons more to go) but my skin GLOWS — not anemic like so many people say I would look, and because of that more and more people are taking some notes for recipes and info. So glad to have found this site. I’m hungry for food truth documentaries and my library will have to try and keep up with my requests. Thank you for letting me post my really long post but to find people with common interests is AWESOME!

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jez May 22, 2012 at 10:46 pm

Hungry for Change is amazing

Cassie April 18, 2012 at 11:30 am

No we cannot trust our doctors for good nutritional advice because they only get about one semester of nutrition education. Who we can trust are Dietitians, they spend up to four years studying nutrition! Unfortunately they are often overlooked… :-(

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tawster January 22, 2014 at 1:35 pm

I have not watched Food Matters, but Forks Over Knives spouts food myth after food myth. There is some good stuff in there, but there is also so much bunk. Ugh.

So… I don’t recommend it: Forks Over Knives is just too much crap and mythology and hard to separate fact from fiction.

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Mary October 13, 2011 at 12:04 pm

You missed the docu-comedy Fat Head. It’s VERY good.

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Julie Loveless October 17, 2011 at 4:48 am

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead
Vegucated
The Last Heart Attack (CNN Special)

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Leslie October 17, 2011 at 8:19 am

I love Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead! Juice on!

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nicole October 27, 2011 at 12:03 pm

The cove.

don’t eat the dolphin meat.

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Sandra Hansen November 22, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Fat Sick and Nearly Dead was great , so was Food Matters and The Gerson Miracle!

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Tibet January 23, 2012 at 9:42 am

Earthlings. Makes Food Inc. look like a Disney movie.

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Toni February 6, 2012 at 4:09 am

Eating: The Rave Diet
Drugs Never Cure Disease, Lorraine Day, MD

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Pablo March 10, 2012 at 5:07 pm

Yes, where’s “Eating”???!!!!!

The best and clearer documentary about food myths ever!!

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toni March 13, 2012 at 5:36 am

Supercharge Me complements Supersize Me
I loved Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead too!

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Katherine Leiner March 28, 2012 at 7:49 am

I loved City Farmers —which lets us know what’s happening in the urban New York City community gardens. And, The Apple Pushers, which tell us about the Green Carts in New York City.

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Damon Russell April 1, 2012 at 4:18 pm

What about ” Food Matters ” ?

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Danielle April 25, 2012 at 7:31 am

Dive and Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead are two good ones I’ve seen lately…

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rawfoodactress April 30, 2012 at 8:02 pm

A documentary recently released that changed my sister’s life, Hungry for Change. Although it doesn’t necessarily go into detail, it has enough information to make you take a second look into what you eat. Food Matters; The Beautiful Truth (although I hated the VO choice); Genetically Modified Food: Panacea or Poison; Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead; Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 3o Days; Sexy, Crazy, Cancer; May I Be Frank, and so many the list could go on.

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GABY May 1, 2012 at 3:27 pm

The Gerson miracle, raw for 30 days..were wake up calls to me and my family.

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Lucy May 24, 2012 at 8:43 am

Don’t be too quick to think that you will cure yourself from cancer, or prevent yourself from getting it just by changing your diet. Yes it is likely to dramatically help, but other factors like radiation, medical treatments, carcinogens in the atmosphere, UV exposure, hormonal balances and genetic predisposition may mean that no matter what you do, you will not prevent yourself from getting cancer. Also, you will not save the environment by eating veg – it could have flown half way around the world several times beofre it reaches your plate, not to mention the CO2 that was released when chopping down the rainforests to make enough room to grow it in the first place. And the pesticides that te veg has been sprayed with may increase your risk of getting cancer. Sorry to put such a downer on things, but changing your diet is simply not enough to immunise yourselves against cancer or to sort out the economy or environment.

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Laura June 19, 2012 at 6:45 am

Lucy, you’re right. There’s no panacea for preventing or curing cancer or any other disease – genetics and environmental toxins, as you mentioned – play a big role, too. But cleaning up our eating habits is one thing we can do. It is within our control to some degree, so it’s a good start. Too bad we can’t do anything about our genetics, but we have control over who we put into office and which companies we support through our patronage – and, ultimately, that can help to reverse (eventually) the toxins in our environment and help heal some of the damage we have done to the earth.

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Amanda June 21, 2012 at 5:35 am

You actually CAN save the environment by eating veg. Studies have shown that by switching to a plant based diet, it has the same environmental impact as driving 8,100 miles less per year. Half of the water used in the US goes towards raising animals for meat- you’ll save 3,700 gallons of water A DAY by eating veg. One of the greatest sources of rainforest deforrestation is GRASS FED BEEF. If people went veg, there’d be less of a demand for animal flesh, and the land that they graze on can be repurposed for food. Not to mention all the space used to grow food for the animals could be used to grow food for humans. The “food could be shipped from around the world” argument is not exclusive to vegetables, but food in general. I’m veg and at least 3/4 of my food is grown within a 10 minute drive of me (and I live in a city). If people made educated choices, and not mere assumptions, they could easily make a difference to the planet.

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Dan June 26, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Well said.

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Chaleigh February 22, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Congratulations Lucy, you join the 70% of Americans that make up excuses to not eat right and exercise.

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melanie sunukjian August 5, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Just linked this great resource to my “Can We Feed the World Sustainably?” post. Thanks for doing the work for me! =)
melanie sunukjian´s last [type] ..The Reformation of Food and the Family Conference: A Review

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JP August 9, 2012 at 10:03 am

May I recommend “Cooking History”, all though it is about military cooks, it is a very sweet movie…

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Csilla Bischoff August 29, 2012 at 6:24 am

Loved Hungry for Change.

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Athena September 23, 2012 at 5:48 am

“Bittersweet” A documentary that follows many perspectives on the use of Chocolate. Weaving stories from children in West Africa, to raw foodies in Canada, French chef and the deformed town of Hershey, PA.

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Athena October 3, 2012 at 1:57 am

Correction: It is called Semi-Sweet: Life in Chocolate. I used your site as a pingback http://theculinarylinguist.wordpress.com/2012/07/28/semi-sweet-life-in-chocolate/

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Diana September 26, 2012 at 8:00 am

Bag It is not about food but about plastic and how much waste us humans produce and what it’s doing to our precious earth. I’ve been vegan for 3 weeks. I went from a fitness fanatic and constantly in the gym and carrying around my tupperware with chicken and broccoli. I realized I was part of a system. One where an industry is exploiting fitness competitors and its consumers. I’m on a new journey to revamp my lifestyle and no longer let additions and industries control me. Since I went vegan, I’m lean without even going to the gym and I no longer have strong cravings for food. Now I want to know more and stop being brainwashed to be a consumer.

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Sara September 30, 2012 at 11:20 am

Earthlings. It is a must see and will change your life. You can watch it free through Google.

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Deanna October 1, 2012 at 7:23 am

How about “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”? Gorgeous doc about famous elderly sushi chef, Japanese culture, passing Jiro’s legacy on to his sons.

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Hanneke October 7, 2012 at 12:41 pm

seen Meat the truth?

Sea the truth

& Darwins Nightmare?

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annav October 20, 2012 at 3:30 pm

I haven’t watched any of these movies. I am eating grass fed beef and organic chicken, organic vegetables, drinking coc0nut milk, etc ….

I was wondering what would be a good order to watch these movies? My family pretty much listens to what I have to say so I would like them to see these movies too. Any suggestions?

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Ginger Harden October 27, 2012 at 4:47 pm

I would start with the last one to come out, which is Hungry for change. This is a great film because it is up to date with all of it’s information. I am not sure this web address is completely correct but it will still you to see at least 20 min for free.

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Jane January 6, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Genetic Roulette is very good. It’s about how the food industry has genetically modified our food and the effects it has on the body!

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Sherri Cordon February 4, 2013 at 2:53 pm

I am a Cadette leader of the Girl Scouts and we are working on 2 badges that have to do with food and you can best believe I will be talking about these documentaries and I have also introduced juicing.

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R. James Roberson February 15, 2013 at 9:55 pm

The upcoming film “In the Interest of National Security” shows the accurate history about the fight to own land and be self-employed *(Agriculture), This historical review dramatizes the battle to develop land, labor and raw materials in free,fair and equitable ways to generate wealth to serve the democracy. Unfortunately, it also identifies the causes blocking, hindering and obstructing the United States from enforcement and application of sound economic principles, legislative intent of congress for fair parity, and critical national security strategy. See for yourselves: http://www.intheinterestofnationalsecurity.com

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Richard March 31, 2013 at 6:48 pm

Anybody mention: “Mad City Chickens”.

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chris April 2, 2013 at 11:59 am

What about ‘Our daily bread’ very good one from 2005.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0765849/

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Cheri@borns.com April 13, 2013 at 8:25 am

oldie but goodie, Diet for a New America, by John Robbins, son of Baskin Robbins (ice cream typhoon) and also a recent documentary is Hungry for a Change (online)

Starting April 27 a huge food forum with John and Ocean Robbins which will run for many days talking with food experts. go to The Food Revolution Network with John and Ocean Robbins for details http://www.foodrevolution.org

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lovefilm April 20, 2013 at 12:55 am

Great list of films, here are a few more which are pretty good.
A Diet for All Reasons
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
you can find them on here…
http://documentarylovers.com/category/health/

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Brandon Frye August 9, 2013 at 10:26 am

These are all great films. I haven’t seen “Food Stamped” yet, but that sounds interesting. Many people believe that eating healthy is extremely expensive. I, myself, don’t find it to break the bank.

Recently I watched “Hungry for Change” and thought that it was brilliantly done. I’ve watched several food documentaries and find that “Hungry for Change” was one of the easiest to watch. In fact, it kept me glued to the screen the entire way through. Their approach was different from others, as I felt that the nutritionist and doctors were speaking to me and not just lecturing.

Many key points were made in the movie, including:

*Our food is not real food anymore
*Fad diets do not work, but can lead to weight gain or worse health conditions
*There is a difference between feeling hungry and nutritionally starving
*We have many foreign ingredients in our food that can cause disease and death

I definitely recommend that people watch this film and see how it can change the way you see food. Knowledge is the key to creating a healthier world for us all. You can check out my “Hungry for Change” Review and Giveaway here: http://www.forkstofeet.com/2013/08/hungry-for-change-review-and-giveaway.html
Thanks for the great list!
Brandon Frye´s last [type] ..Vegan Marinara Sauce

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Courtleigh October 1, 2013 at 11:59 pm

Forks Over Knives, Food Matters, Hungry For Change, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, and The Gerson Miracle.

All of these have changed my life completely.

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Jordy November 13, 2013 at 10:55 am

I found these documentaries and books very informative but I wish there were more documentaries on how to eat rather than what not to eat and the horrors behind the foods not to eat. Many conditioned to the modern world are not eating GMO chemical garbage because they want to, and much is a chemical addiction but because they don’t know how to eat. If anyone know any documentaries on how to eat “off the grid” I’d love to see it

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Amanda February 9, 2014 at 5:00 pm

Super size me does not belong there, in my opinion. Fast food restaurants have added healthier choices to their menus. The rest is up to the individual. The name of the film says it all, he is stuffing himself with junk to make a point.

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Russ February 13, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Nice list. Definitely agree with Amanda on “stuffing himself with junk to make a point.” After watching Super-Size Me, I went on the “McDiet” myself for 30 days. You don’t get sick – and actually I didn’t get fat.

Plus I think anyone here could make a burger far better (and more healthy) than McDonalds.

We surely need more GMO documentaries as they are now being linked to human ailments – according to Natural News. Researchers have finally agreed that GMO’s are dangerous and have already started testing.

Hopefully, in the near future, more awareness about Man-Made (poisonous) products will be distributed with the truth.
Russ´s last [type] ..The Top 100 Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle and a Thin Body

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Dylan Webster February 25, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Not only have fast food restaurants added healthier choices. but Super Size Me was largely debunked a long time ago, mostly because the guy in the movie refused to hand over his food log and skewed how many calories he was consuming each day. You should replace it with “Fathead.”

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