“Our food system is broken. Some people don’t have enough food, while others are eating too much. There’s only one way to fix this problem—and it starts with you and me.”
So reads a statement on Food Tank’s website explaining their raison d’etre. They are a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that puts out some very thought-provoking information. Their vision? “Building a global community for safe, healthy, nourished eaters.”
Recently they posted a summary of 19 documentaries on food and hunger. You may have seen some, you may not have heard of others. I am reproducing part of their list here; my own vegan journey began with a film viewing many, many years ago (talking pictures were still a gleam in Hollywood’s eye), and the power of documentaries is as crucial to self-examination and change as ever.
I haven’t seen all of these myself, and I am endorsing neither the films or Food Tank. But this is a subject about which knowledge is power. So for what it’s worth, here is Food Tank’s movie list for your enjoyment:
- Food Chains: “Food Chains,” produced by actress Eva Longoria and Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser, reveals the plight of farmworkers, the foundation of our food industry. Filmmakers follow a group of Florida tomato pickers in their quest for a more dignified work life through the Fair Food Program, which helps bring growers and retailers together to improve conditions for farmworkers.
- Food, Inc.: Filmmaker Robert Kenner details how the growth of industrial farming and the political power of major food companies have put human health, the independent farmer, farmworkers, and our environment at risk. The film is widely recognized as one of the most influential documentaries ever made and was nominated for Best Documentary in the 2009 Academy Awards. Despite its dire overview of the current food system, “Food, Inc.” inspires viewers to do their part in changing the food system. “You have to understand that we farmers…we’re gonna deliver to the marketplace what the marketplace demands…People have got to start demanding good, wholesome food of us, and we’ll deliver; I promise you,” says Troy Roush, an Indianan farmer featured in the film.
- How to Feed the World?: This 10-minute film describes how developed countries can address food insecurity by investing in international development and consuming more foods with lower environmental impact. Created for children ages 9 to 14, “How to Feed the World?” explores food justice, dietary insufficiencies, the economic consequences of food aid, and the idea of a new type of agriculture for feeding more people with less environmental harm.
- In Defense of Food: Based on Michael Pollan’s best-selling book, “In Defense of Food” delves into Pollan’s advice to “eat food. not too much. mostly plants.” Pollan coins the term nutritionism to describe Americans’ adherence to dietary fads and critiques the American food industry’s emphasis on specific nutrients rather than whole foods. According to Pollan, “as eaters we feel whipsawed by the changes in the nutritional advice we’re getting.”
- We Feed the World: In this 2005 documentary, Austrian filmmaker Erwin Wagenhofer takes viewers to France, Spain, Romania, Switzerland, and Brazil, while presenting the ironies of the world’s food systems. For example, Latin America produces much of Austria’s livestock feed, while a quarter of their own population starves. “We Feed the World” illustrates the effects of globalization and industrial food production on the world’s food systems and highlights the global repercussions of hunger.
For the full list of 19 films and for more information, visit Food Tank.