Weekly Column_120 / August 16, 2012

Diet Detective’s Movies That Educate, Encourage and Enrage You to Think About the Foods You Eat

By Charles Platkin, PhD

Food, Inc.

Synopsis (from the filmmakers): “In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government’s regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation’s food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, herbicide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won’t go bad, but we also have new strains of E. coli — the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually. We are riddled with widespread obesity, particularly among children, and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults.”

“Featuring interviews with such experts as Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto) along with forward-thinking social entrepreneurs like Stonyfield’s Gary Hirshberg and Polyface Farms’ Joel Salatin, Food, Inc. reveals surprising — and often shocking — truths about what we eat, how it’s produced, whom we have become as a nation and where we are going from here.”

Trailer: www.foodincmovie.com/trailer-and-photos.php

Time: 93 minutes

Website: www.foodincmovie.com

Why You Need to Watch: This is an intense, fantastic film. If you see only one movie, this is the one that will get you really thinking about the foods you eat. One word of caution: Eat before you watch the movie.

Ingredients

Synopsis (from the filmmakers): “American food is in a state of crisis. Health, food costs and our environment are all in jeopardy. A movement to put good food back on the table is emerging. What began 30 years ago with chefs demanding better flavor, has inspired consumers to seek relationships with nearby farmers. This is local food. A feature-length documentary, Ingredients illustrates how people around the country are working to revitalize that connection. Narrated by Bebe Neuwirth, the film takes us across the U.S. from the diversified farms of the Hudson River and Willamette Valleys to the urban food deserts of Harlem and to the kitchens of celebrated chefs Alice Waters, Peter Hoffman and Greg Higgins. Ingredients is a journey that reveals the people behind the movement to bring good food back to the table and health back to our communities.”

Trailer: www.ingredientsfilm.com (on front page of website)

Time: 73 minutes

Website: www.ingredientsfilm.com

Why You Need to Watch: I would argue that this is the sequel to Food, Inc. It introduces viewers to the good food movement, including the concept of eating local foods.

Two Angry Moms

Synopsis (from the filmmakers): “Amy Kalafa was stewing for years, packing her kids lunches from home and trying to get her community to pay attention to what kids are eating in school. When news of a national child health crisis began making headlines, Amy, an award-winning documentary filmmaker, decided to take the fight to film. Two Angry Moms is Amy’s quest to learn what she and other parents need to know and do to get better food in their kids’ schools.”

“Susan Rubin had been trying for a decade to work with her district on improving school food, earning herself a reputation as a rabble-rouser with a ‘macrobiotic agenda’ (NOT!). She’s even been banned from her children’s school cafeteria! In the meantime, legions of kids continue to make a daily lunch out of neon green slushies, greasy fries and supersize cookies, imperiling not only their long-term health but also their ability to learn. Exasperated, Susan decided to reach beyond her school district, and founded Better School Food, her own grassroots organization.”

“Part exposé, part ‘how-to,’ Amy chronicles the efforts of Susan and other leaders in the fledgling better school food movement as they take on the system nationwide.”

Trailer: www.angrymoms.org/video.php

Time: 86 minutes

Website: www.angrymoms.org

Why You Need to Watch: If you have children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews, this is a must-watch film. Amy is a wonderful filmmaker and grassroots organizer.

Super Size Me

Synopsis: This is the granddaddy of all the “food” movies — the one that started it all. Morgan Spurlock eats nothing but McDonald’s food for 30 days. Guess what happens? Not very good.

Film: www.hulu.com/watch/63283/super-size-me

Time: 96 minutes

Website: http://super-size-me.morganspurlock.com/

Why You Need to Watch: Do you eat fast food? Watch this and you will get the message: Eating nothing but fast food could make you very sick.

King Corn

Synopsis (from the filmmakers): “King Corn is a feature documentary about two friends, one acre of corn, and the subsidized crop that drives our fast-food nation.”

“In King Corn, Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, best friends from college on the east coast, move to the heartland to learn where their food comes from. With the help of friendly neighbors, genetically modified seeds, and powerful herbicides, they plant and grow a bumper crop of America’s most-productive, most-subsidized grain on one acre of Iowa soil. But when they try to follow their pile of corn into the food system, what they find raises troubling questions about how we eat — and how we farm.”

Trailer: www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGSsScjwQ3Y&feature=related

Time: 88 minutes

Website: www.kingcorn.net

Why You Need to Watch: Did you know that nearly all the food you eat contains corn — and not the kind you eat at a barbecue? Watch and learn about what you eat.

Other films to add to your Netflix queue: Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, The Future of Food, Fresh, Farmer Joe and Food Fight.






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By Charles Platkin, PhD





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