10 Top Documentary Food Films

by Sarah Henry on March 6, 2010 · 192 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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{ 159 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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michel rivaldo January 25, 2015 at 12:33 am

really…nobody is talking about NEW FARMS, BIG SUCCESS a new film about sustainable food technics using less oil.
link : http://www.mondefilms.com/#!__new-farms-big-success

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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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Lilyкуш May 12, 2016 at 5:47 pm

Thanx for the comment! So true- I couldn’t agree more!

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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