We are what we eat. This statement is cliché, but true in ways that we are only beginning to realize. The rise of the food processing industry in America has brought a rash of health consequences, including increasing rates of diabetes and heart disease. Independent filmmakers have stepped up to wrestle the hulking beast that is America's food industry. These five incredible films reveal uncomfortable truths about what we feed our families.
Indigestible: The Film
One secret the food industry doesn't want you to know is that there are very few farmers left in America today. Our food animals are not raised on the sunny, rolling pastures of American fable, but in Confined Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFOs. Factory farmed animals lead lives of intense pain, crammed on top of one another often in total darkness. Indigestible shines a ray of light onto the torture suffered by animals who become the sustenance on our plates, and connects this inhumanity to our own suffering health. Find tidbits of Indigestible on their YouTube page.
Farm to Fridge
Only 12 minutes long, this documentary from Mercy for Animals is a one-two punch right to the gut. This short film combines graphic footage obtained in secret with music from experimental composer Ben Frost for a compelling insight into the lives of farmed animals. Such footage must be obtained by hidden cameras, often at great personal risk to the filmmakers, due to intense pressure from the corporate owners of these operations. They know the truth and they know that such public revelations will decimate their profits. Find Farm to Fridge here.
Craig Watts grows chickens for Perdue, one of the largest chicken suppliers in America. Corporations like Perdue stack the deck against small American farmers, shoving all of the risk onto them while sucking up the majority of profit. Watts refused to watch in silence as his community and his livelihood were decimated by Perdue's ruthless demands, so he invited
filmmakers to document his story. In 43 minutes, viewers witness the crushing financial and legal battles of individual chicken growers and the implications for their communities. Cock Fight is available for those who have DirecTV.
Winner of the Best Documentary award at the Toronto Independent Film Festival in 2011,
follows three meat-and-cheese-loving New Yorkers who adopt a vegan diet for six weeks. Published researchers Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Professor T. Colin Campbell and Howard Lyman walk viewers through the mounting scientific evidence for plant-based, whole food diets. This film confronts the disconnect between concern for animal welfare and sustainability on one hand with reluctance to changing our own eating habits on the other. Change is never easy, but our health and survival depends upon it. Watch Vegucated on
In 2008, Food Inc. kick-started the movement for local, sustainable, organic food. Still the best known film challenging the food industry to date, Food Inc. reveals the invisible ways in which our food is manipulated for profit. Current food industry practices result in polluted environments for our children and unsustainable use of limited resources. In the era of plastic wrapped produce, bacterial contamination of food is actually increasing. Food Inc. encourages viewers to vote three times a day: at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Food Inc. is also available on
Together these documentaries confront one of the central tenets of the American food industry: that cheapness should be consumers' number one priority. In this system, animal cruelty is not incidental but inevitable. Is saving a few dollars really worth the health of our families, the planet, and our communities? We have the power to change the future of food. That power is as close as our forks.