Dinner & a movie. The perfect date night. That alone is a way to connect over food, but you could take it a step further and watch a movie about food. Whether you are in the mood for a comedy, a drama or a documentary I have plenty of suggestions.
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Some of the suggestions will really make you think and some might even make you angry. I am going to start with the documentaries. After that, we can get to the easy stuff that is all about happy times and sharing meals with each other. The below documentaries are my top suggestions. If you see no others watch these. There are tons of great films dealing with food, but these are my favorites.
Starting with my new favorite, the movie, Sustainable, made me excited about the people who are working to make changes in our food system. They may be the little guys now but the connection of the chefs and the farmers is one of the main forces behind this movement of good food and a better food system. I loved that for once this film focused on rural Midwest America as opposed to one of the costs. There are unique challenges to changing the food system in the Midwest and this movie does a good job recognizing those. You can watch it on Amazon or Netflix.
In politics, there are always issues that get a lot of focus and food isn’t one of them. Which is strange since we all gotta eat. Environmentalist may think they get the short end, but at least they get a mention at a political debate. Not many mentions for food. Honestly, I watched all the debates in the past presidential election, primaries of both parties and the general election, and there was no question about food. That makes these documentaries such an important educational piece.
a round-up of documentaries that focus on food
There are so many topics that deal with food; hunger, cooking, farming, eating, processing, employment, and distribution. For every issue that food touches there is a movie about it. Knowing about all of these areas is important because just fixing one won’t fix them all. Though with increased focus and actions a high tide can begin to rise all, but only if we can see the big picture.
This first group deals primarily with eating and cooking.
- Cooked was originally a book by author Michael Pollan. In the book, he dives into 4 cooking techniques and the beautiful documentary that was released on Netflix there are 4 episodes, each relating to the same cooking techniques he talked about in the book.
- Food Inc could probably be referred to as a classic at this point. Unfortunately, even though it was released almost 10 years ago, it is still relevant today. There has been a lot of increased awareness, and this movie is a big part of that, but not many national changes have been made to address the issues the movie raises.
- A Place at the Table was created by the people who brought you Food Inc. and includes chef Tom Colicchio of Top Chef fame. This movie attempts to raise awareness around the hunger faced by many people in the United States.
- In Defense of Food was also originally a book by author Michael Pollan. This book is where his food rule came from. This is a great one to watch as it will help you navigate grocery shopping. A task that has become far more complicated than it ever should have. You can watch this on Amazon or on PBS.
Now on to some heavier topics, but none the less important.
- American Dream a movie that was released in 1980 about the Hormel plant and an attempted strike.
- Cesar Chavez a fairly recent movie that shows what migrant works do and the fight they waged to be treated humanely.
- Wal-Mart: The high cost of low price is one I haven’t seen yet, but Wal-mart has a big impact on our food system as a large buyer of all kinds of food and a place that may be the only grocery store for millions of Americans.
These next few probably don’t need any introductions. These are three of my favorite fun movies. When I need inspiration I put on Chef or Julie & Julia and my mood is instantly uplifted.
Check out these roundups for more suggestions
- An extensive list that covers decades of film
- a GIF crazy post, but it is a fun list for curling up on the couch. Just be sure to bring a snack.
- A fun list that has documentaries & fictional films
If TV is more your thing
Before the Food Network was PBS, the premiere stop for programming and cooking shows. The current lineup of shows is as impressive as the oldies, but goodies. Scroll through the list of programs they have to offer and set a few to record. There is something for everyone and you are sure to learn something. My favorites are Mind of a Chef, A Chef’s Life & Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking.
For a quick snack
Don’t have time for a movie then try a TED Talk on food.