Culture Multimedia

May 22, 2014 at 11:14 am

7 Under-Publicized Food Documentaries You Need to See

Though there are plenty of food documentaries to be found on Netflix, some of the most interesting ones can be found elsewhere on the web – if you know where to look. Websites like Vimeo or even PBS can be great resources for full length and short documentary or educational films that will never show up on the big screen. You can also pay attention to film competitions like the Real Food Media Contest or even Cannes to find the next great food docs being released.

Though not all of these are available to watch for free, isn’t it worth $3.99 to be the first one to see the next A Place at the Table before everyone else? As this list is by no means exhaustive, please mention any other great underrated food documentaries we missed or your own favorite sources for finding them in the comments below.

1. From the Wild

This Canadian series is all about food straight from the wild – foraged, hunted, or fished. Directed by Kevin Kossowan, who writes, produces and directs food and agriculture related video – this beautifully shot 12-part show goes beyond the food you’d find in a local grocery store. (Watch “From the Wild” on Vimeo.)

2. The Moo Man

This feature-length documentary comes to us from England, following the story of Steve Hook and his herd of cows. Hook struggles with many of the complaints commonly heard against “Big Ag” – cost cutting measures, get big or go home, and the price of dealing with supermarkets. He finds himself having to make big changes to save his small farm. The film is a very human story that tackles big issues we’ve heard before. It was nominated for  The Grand Jury Prize Sundance 2013 and Best Documentary at the 2013 British Independent Film Awards. (Watch “The Moo Man” on Vimeo.)

3. Food Forward

Food Forward is a character-driven PBS series that focuses on the faces of urban farming throughout the United States. Originally hosted by KQED, those of us in Northern California are unlikely to have come across this television program before. It’s a well told story of people, farming, and a new way to look at food in America. (Watch a full episode on PBS.)

4. Farming Out of Poverty

This short documentary film by Oslo-based Marcus Bleasdale was the subject of a Food Politic article in January 2014. It highlights the simple changes that families in underdeveloped countries can make to provide economic security to their families. (Watch on Vimeo.)

5. As We Grow

One of my favorite stories about people really making a difference in their communities. “As We Grow” is a documentary about the Tallahassee Sustainability Group, a student organization based out of Florida State University. Not only did it successfully bring sustainable farming techniques and education to the surrounding community, it’s now grown into an after-school program called the Agrinauts. (Read more about TSG and the documentary.)

6. To Make a Farm. Arribes: Everything Else is Noise

“To Make a Farm” is a film that asks what the future of food and farming might look like. This Canadian film was voted one of the ten most popular at the Vancouver Film Festival and is available on iTunes and Amazon to watch – making it one of the most widely distributed films on this list. The documentary follows five young people on their journey to become small farmers. (Download from iTunes.)

7. El Field

This documentary focuses on intersection of the immigration debate and agriculture by following the movement of workers from Mexico’s Mexicali Valley and California’s Imperial Valley. Visually compelling images show the vastness of agriculture and the toil of migrant workers while a narrative without narrative allows your eyes to see for themselves. (Purchase through Documentary Educational Resources.)

-Tove K. Danovich