5 Great Food Documentaries to Catch on Netflix
- Food Inc.
- The Truth About Alcohol
- In Defense of Food
Anyone who has the streaming video service, Netflix, has access to many fascinating documentaries on a range of topics. One of the most popular realms covered by this style of filmmaking is nutrition. However, it’s important to parse which titles are weighted down with overt bias and even deliver incorrect information about a topic the understanding of which is vital. To help those interested in the issue find the best nutrition documentaries, the article below lists five of the best currently available.
Related resource: Top 25 Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Health Sciences
1. Food Inc.
In 2008, this bombshell documentary appeared on the scene with some claims that seemed rather bold at the time. It focuses on how America produces grains, meats, and vegetables according to an industrialized philosophy, diving deep into the mechanized and often unsanitary world of slaughterhouses and packing depots. Some of the assertions it makes have been born out by other investigations in the decade since its debut, including the unsustainable and inhumane nature of much of American raw foods production.
2. The Truth About Alcohol
With all the conflicting information about the impacts of alcohol that is currently available at the touch of a button, the BBC decided to put many popular assumptions and study conclusions to the test. In this documentary, experts and enthusiasts take on questions such as what tolerance means, the real benefits of red wine, whether a nightcap will improve sleep quality, and other topics related to one of humanity’s oldest manufactured beverage products. Hosted by Dr. Javid Abdelmoneium, the investigation takes viewers on a journey that includes places as varied as the local pub and the sleep analysis laboratory.
Based on investigative journalist Michael Pollan’s award-winning inquiry into the underlying nature of food and the processes by which humans manipulate raw ingredients to create foods and entire cuisines, this four-part series never fails to fascinate. Divided into the four elements—Fire, Water, Earth, and Air—each episode examines a different method of food preparation or creation. For example, Fire examines how the use of fire may have changed the course of human evolution entirely, by making nutrients more available with less effort. Earth offers a startling look into the selective use of microorganisms that are essential for making cheese, yogurt, alcohol, chocolate, and bread.
While the 2016 documentary does employ a narrow focus, zooming in on the 160-acre farm of Marty Travis, who represents the seventh generation of a family farming tradition. Even so, it offers a consideration of broader issues, such as the growth of agribusinesses, which have primarily replaced individual farmers. It also raises important questions about the sustainability of modern, industrialized farming practices, the economic soundness of current business practices related to the growing, harvesting, and packing of foods from the fields, and how they impact the human relationship with the earth.
5. In Defense of Food
Drawn once more from his work as an investigative journalist, this documentary follows food through its various channels from farm to table. It also takes time to explore how much time, money, and energy are devoted to transforming food into food products, with a side dish of investigating how psychology and advertising are leveraged to manipulate the American palate. More disturbing and enlightening than many of the available documentaries, it still offers modern eaters a path to better health without sacrificing their sanity or their bank balance. Pollan advises people to eat food. It should be mostly plant-based, and one shouldn’t overeat.
While there is any number of filmmakers with an agenda and a budget, documentaries worth watching will be mostly self-evident. There is roughly a score of nutrition and food-related documentaries and series available on Netflix, but the best ones don’t push a single perspective too heavily and usually attempt to present the facts clearly, even while also entertaining the audience.