Food, Inc., 20091 of 16
Food, Inc. has been driving viewers to their local organic markets since its release in 2009. Although PG-rated, the corruption revealed in the U.S. food industry is pretty horrifying.
Food, Inc. is also a good way to learn exactly how crops and meat get from American farms and pastures to your family's table. The documentary puts a human face on the farmers struggling to survive while working in the four main U.S. food industries.
Food Matters, 20082 of 16
Released in 2008, Food Matters is a fast-paced, blunt look at the state of health in the United States. Packed with nutrition experts and doctors, the documentary lays out a compelling case that investing in the food you eat can be just as important as funding research for cancer treatment, because nutritious food can save you from chronic illnesses in the long run.
Hungry for Change, 20123 of 16
Hungry for Change, from the creators of Food Matters, was released in 2012 with the intent of exposing secrets the diet, weight loss and food industry don't want consumers to know. The documentary also tries to explain the connection between the foods you eat and their hormonal effect on the body, with an emphasis on sugar's role in chronic diseases and obesity.
In simple terms, Hungry for Change is a powerful attempt at shifting our perception of dieting in order to improve the health of Americans.
Super Size Me, 20044 of 16
The seminal 2004 documentary, Super Size Me, opened Americans' eyes to the dangers of fast food consumption. Morgan Spurlock, the director-turned-guinea-pig, eats McDonald's every day for 30 days and experiences a dramatic on-screen transformation. Near the end of the 30 days, Spurlock's doctor expresses concern he will have liver failure, but the experiment goes on. Super Size Me forces the audience to think twice before entering the drive-thru.
Forks Over Knives, 20115 of 16
Forks Over Knives has an ambitious goal: to save your life. The documentary dives into all the toxic ingredients Americans consume daily, creating a narcotic-like addiction. In a way, Forks Over Knives is the reverse experiment shown in Super Size Me: Director Lee Fulkerson eats a plant-based, whole food diet for six months. By the end of the experiment, Fulkerson has lost weight, sleeps better and has more energy; he is even able to stop taking his cholesterol and blood pressure medications. Though Forks Over Knives has been criticized for its singular focus on veganism, it makes a factual argument worth watching.
PlantPure Nation, 20156 of 16
PlantPure Nation, a kind of sequel to Forks over Knives, picks up where it left off four years later, trying to showcase the benefits of a plant-based diet. PlantPure Nation follows Dr. T Colin Campbell's efforts to pass legislation for plant-based diets and, after a test study in North Carolina, the film produces some astonishing results.
Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, 20107 of 16
Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead chronicles one man's 60-day journey to a healthier lifestyle. At the beginning, co-director Joe Cross is obese and suffers from an autoimmune disease that he must take steroids to treat. Cross commits to drinking only juices made from fresh fruits and vegetables in the hopes of losing weight and getting off his medication.
Along the way, Cross talks to more than 500 Americans about food, health and longevity. The result is an inspiring documentary meant to show there is hope for a healthy life—no matter how far off the rails you've gone.
Fed Up, 20148 of 16
Narrated by Katie Couric, Fed Up documents America's rising obesity statistics and the economic motives that aid in unhealthy eating habits. While a bit dry, interviews with some big names like former President Bill Clinton help to inform the audience of the dangers of white sugar and high fructose corn syrup on America's youth.
Vegucated, 20119 of 16
Part social experiment and part adventure, this guerilla-style documentary follows three former meat lovers as they take a six-week hiatus from their usual diet and adopt a vegan lifestyle. Throughout the documentary, the protagonists have to battle through family vacations and breakfast buffets, trying to resist the urge to return to their eco-unfriendly lifestyle.
GMO OMG, 201310 of 16
GMO OMG follows father-turned-crusader, Jeremy Seifert, in a David vs. Goliath battle with Monsanto and other big corporations that promote GMOs.
Controversially, GMO OMG takes a break from statistics and studies and instead emphasizes the human impact GMOs have on farmers and consumers through dramatic scenes like Seifert dressing his children in full hazmat gear before letting them enter a field of genetically modified corn. Entertaining moments are sandwiched between real efforts to protect Seifert's children and the next generation from the effect of GMOs.
Cowspiracy, 201411 of 16
From executive producer Leonardo DiCaprio comes Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret. Filmmaker Kip Anderson tries to uncover just how much damage the food industry has on the environment. His findings show that animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution, but Anderson also offers a path to a more globally sustainable food industry.
Those hoping for a Leo cameo, however, will be disappointed, as DiCaprio is not actually in the film.
Food Chains, 201412 of 16
Food Chains, released in 2014, shines a spotlight on the laborers who power the American food industry. The gripping expose shows the daily struggle of farm laborers who endure excessive demands to avoid losing their jobs, including a group of laborers required to pick a minimum of 480 pounds of fruit per hour.
Bite Size, 201413 of 16
Bite Size is an inspiring documentary that follows four clinically obese pre-teens as they battle to regain their confidence and physical health. Their heartbreaking but ultimately uplifting journey includes enduring bullying and life-threatening health issues. Each child comes from a different background, transcending social issues in order to focus on the obesity epidemic plaguing American youths today.
Farmageddon, 201114 of 16
Farmageddon documents the battle between organic farmers who provide nutritious food to their communities and the government agencies that threaten to shut them down. Director Kristin Canty suggests that instead of regulating small farmers, the government should be investigating big businesses, where the majority of diseases in the food chain are found.
A Place at the Table, 201215 of 16
While the majority of documentaries on this list are about over-indulging on bad food, A Place at the Table takes a look at the daily hunger experienced by millions of Americans and the struggle to find nutritious food options. This documentary sheds light on the harsh reality that good fruits and vegetables are neither affordable nor available for lower class Americans who live in food deserts.