If you’re ready to have your mind blown when it comes to farming and food– or if you’re ready to get a friend or relative on-board with organic and sustainable farming– here are five fantastic movies that we at Good Sweet Earth can’t speak highly enough about. They’re inspiring, educational, informative, and even entertaining.
After seeing these films, you’ll want to sink your hands into some rich, crumbly dirt; sink your teeth into some garden-fresh fruits; and sink the notion that corporate farming is really “no big deal.”
All five of these films are available on DVD/Blu-Ray, and most are on streaming services like Amazon Prime and Netflix as well.
1. Food, Inc.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, 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, who we have become as a nation and where we are going from here.
2. Dirt! The Movie. Dirt! The Movie is an insightful and timely film that tells the story of the glorious and unappreciated material beneath our feet.
Inspired by William Bryant Logan’s acclaimed book Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth, Dirt! The Movie takes a humorous and substantial look into the history and current state of the living organic matter that we come from and will later return to. Dirt! The Movie will make you want to get dirty.
3. Forks Over Knives. Forks Over Knives examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods. The major storyline in the film traces the personal journeys of a pair of pioneering yet under-appreciated researchers, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn.
The idea of food as medicine is put to the test. Throughout the film, cameras follow “reality patients” who have chronic conditions from heart disease to diabetes. Doctors teach these patients how to adopt a whole-foods plant-based diet as the primary approach to treat their ailments—while the challenges and triumphs of their journeys are revealed.
4. The Dust Bowl: A Film by Ken Burns. The Dust Bowl chronicles the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history, in which the frenzied wheat boom of the “Great Plow-Up,” followed by a decade-long drought during the 1930s nearly swept away the breadbasket of the nation. Vivid interviews with twenty-six survivors of those hard times, combined with dramatic photographs and seldom seen movie footage, bring to life stories of incredible human suffering and equally incredible human perseverance. It is also a morality tale about our relationship to the land that sustains us—a lesson we ignore at our peril.
5. The Fruit Hunters. You can find them deep in the jungles of Borneo, in the hills of Umbria and perhaps even in your own backyard. They are fruit hunters, the subjects of the new film from acclaimed director Yung Chang (Up the Yangtze, China Heavyweight).
The Fruit Hunters travels across culture, history and geography to show how intertwined we are with the fruits we eat. Our guides are devoted fruit fanatics. Movie star Bill Pullman’s obsession leads him on a crusade to create a community orchard in the Hollywood Hills. Adventurers Noris Ledesma and Richard Campbell scour the jungle for rare mangos, hoping to intervene before the plants are steamrolled by industrialization. Pioneering scientist Juan Aguilar races to breed bananas resistant to a deadly fungus that threatens the worldwide crop. And fruit detectives including Isabella Dalla Ragione investigate Renaissance-era paintings for clues, hoping to rediscover lost fruits. And, of course, there are the fruits themselves, presented in all their mouthwatering glory: cherimoyas, ice cream beans, durians and more.
Steve & Corey Veldheer are organic yard & garden specialists in west Michigan.