Documentaries on Food and Soil

Watching films is a fun way to learn about our food systems, food waste, plant-based diets, and regenerative agriculture. Members of the Food and Soil Committee have personally viewed these films and provided the reviews below.

Food Waste

Taste the Waste (2010)

Ever wonder why all store-bought cucumbers are the same size and shape? Find out the answer in this documentary, as well as learn about a German bakery that uses leftover bread as fuel to heat its ovens and learn the impact of food waste on famine. Along the way, you will meet the farmers frustrated with industry regulations and the people who feed their families with food that would otherwise be thrown away. Available for free on Youtube

Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story (2014)

Is it possible just to live off of food that would go in the trash? Two filmmakers take on the challenge of only eating food waste for six months, while they interview food waste experts and activists. Since most waste comes from households, this couple’s personal journey will inspire you to explore what changes you can make and see for yourself the possibilities behind food recovery. Available for free on YouTube 

Wasted! The Story of Food Waste (2017)

How farmers, chefs, restaurateurs, brewers, and food growers produce, compost,  and create new methods for conserving and utilizing potential food waste by incorporating innovative recipes, farm practices and production. Popular chefs from across the globe demonstrate how to make use of often discarded food such as fish and meat scraps as well as vegetables and fruits in order to create delicious gourmet recipes. Created by Anthony Bourdain. Available for rental on Amazon Prime or YouTube

Plant-Based Diets

Forks over Knives (2011)

What if you could help the environment and improve your health at the same time? Focusing on groundbreaking research in the areas of nutrition and medicine, this film shares personal stories of people who lowered their cholesterol, decreased their medications, and lengthened their lives by switching to a whole food plant-based diet. Available on Netflix

Cowspiracy (2014)

This documentary takes a close look at the impact of the cattle industry on the environment and suggests it’s something the environmental community has not sufficiently addressed. While it’s a compelling film from an ecological perspective, it puts a lot of stock into a calculation in a 2009 World Watch report that suggests more than half the greenhouse gas emissions in the world are due to animal agriculture, whereas the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change puts the figure at closer to 15%, with the total agricultural and forestry sector responsible for about 25% of emissions. The film also concludes a person can’t be an environmentalist without having a 100% plant-based diet. Our Food and Soil committee agrees that going plant-based (vegan) is a great way to substantially reduce one’s carbon footprint, but we also applaud those who increase the percentage of plant-based products in their diet since that’s a step toward a better climate in the future. This film can be a great eye-opener as long as its contents are not taken as gospel. Available on Netflix

The Game Changers (2018)

Features multiple elite athletes that have improved their performance following a plant-based diet. Their results may entice you to emulate their diets. Available on Netflix

Eating Animals (2018)

Ninety-nine percent of meat production is produced on an industrialized scale. Through a series of unique interviews with farmers and other people working in meat production, this film takes a look at how that industrialization evolved and how it has affected animals, farmers, and our environment. Available for rental on YouTube

The End of Meat (2017)

The multifaceted consequences of eating meat on the health of this planet and the philosophical aspects of the animal industrial complex are explored in this film. The German director interviews people from around the world who are grappling with these issues. Topics touched upon range from the realities of slaughterhouses, the rise of more available plant products including cultured meat, the decreased biodiversity from animal farming, and farm sanctuaries. Available for rental on YouTube and Prime Video.  

Vegucated (2011)

This film follows three people who attempt to follow a vegan diet for six weeks. It takes an honest and empathetic look at the difficulty of making a drastic change to your diet and serves as a good introduction for people looking to remove more meat from their diets while giving a basic overview of the meat industry. Available on YouTube or Amazon Prime

Regenerative Agriculture

Sustainable (2016)

A documentary featuring one model of regenerative farming methods for increasing yields on smaller acreage in rural Illinois. This methodology demonstrates good management practices and shows comparable profits to that of big agribusiness. Available for rental on YouTube

The Biggest Little Farm (2018)

Follow a family on their journey to transform a farm from barren wasteland to a thriving and diverse farm in tune with nature using regenerative agriculture practices. As documentaries go, this one is highly entertaining and uplifting. Available for rental on Amazon Prime

Dreaming of a Vetter World (2018)

This film follows the decades-long journey of David Vetter – a pioneer in regenerative agriculture. As both a farmer and soil scientist, David has learned and taught others about the importance of healthy soil. This film also places David’s work in a greater context and explores how organic farms are negatively affected when in close proximity to industrialized agriculture. Available for online rental

PolyCultures: Food Where We Live (2009)

Diverse communities around Northeast Ohio come together to grow a more sustainable and equitable food system in this inspiring film. PolyCultures is rooted in the idea that local food is good for the health of individuals, communities, local economies, and the environment. It features many national and international experts who place area food production in the bigger picture of sustainability. The term “polyculture” refers to the ecologically-minded technique of growing a diversity of crops/animals on one farm, but it also represents the documentary’s participants coming from very different backgrounds to arrive at similar conclusions and take coordinated action. Available free on YouTube.

General/industrial agriculture

Food Inc. (2008)

“The food industry doesn’t want you to know the truth about what you’re eating, because if you knew, you might not want to eat it.” This film shows how our food is really made – beyond the pictures of bucolic farms on products in the grocery store – and the dangers of our modern food system and how you can make a difference. Features food luminaries such as Michael Pollan (author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”), Eric Schlosser (author of “Fast Food Nation”), and Farmer Joel Salatin, amongst others. A must see for anyone who eats! Available free on YouTube or for rental on Amazon Prime

King Corn (2007)

In this seminal piece of agricultural cinema, two college friends move from the East Coast to a small town in Iowa, where they work with local farmers to grow a single acre of corn. In the process, they journey to other parts of the country to follow corn throughout the food system and explore the impact of the huge amount of corn grown in the US since the 1970’s, both ecologically and on our individual health, as well as economically for those who farm the commodity crop.  A serious topic, but a highly entertaining watch. Available on Amazon Prime (included with Prime)

Coming Soon!

Reviews on these films are coming soon!
The Real Dirt on Farmer John (description/watch)
Kiss The Ground (Available on Netflix or rent for $1 on Vimeo)