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6 films that will change the way you eat

From sustainable farmers in Devon to commercial beekeepers in the US, sit back, put the popcorn on, and take a closer look at the food on your plate and its many impacts on your health and our planet.

6 films that will change the way you eat

#1 In Our Hands

This documentary was made as a collaboration between small scale farmers’ union the Landworkers’ Alliance and Black Bark films. It raises questions about the British food system, farmers’ livelihoods and unravels the truths of our industrial farming system. Stories include Grown in Totnes who are trying to set a new standard for local; promoting food sovereignty with OrganicLea; and Street Goat who aim to create a food system for people rather than the big multinational corporations. Find out more, here.

Why is it important?
As Brexit puts our food security on the table again, the quality of British farming and our farmers’ livelihoods are at stake. Over the last decade we’ve lost more than 33,000 farms from our countryside. While the latest Agricultural Bill has put soil at its heart, there’s yet to be a policy ensuring that UK food standards will not be lowered in any post-Brexit deal with the US. Chlorinated chicken? No, thanks. It’s time to appreciate and support British farming and this documentary does just that.

Top quote
“The backbone of this country is the farmer who shows the blood, sweat – even the dirt between the nails – and who should be able to make a profitable living, but that’s not the case.”

#2 Food, Inc

Documentary filmmaker Robert Kenner examines how mammoth corporations have taken over the food chain in the US, from the farms where food is grown to the chain restaurants and supermarkets where it's sold.

Why is it important?
We might like our ideal meal to be convenient, low-cost and delicious. Yet how our food is produced in the industrial world is hidden because if we knew how a lot of food was made, we probably wouldn't buy it. While food policies in the US are not equal to the UK, you still have the power to make a difference, three times a day – when you buy your food you are voting with your fork, whether that is local, organic or seasonal.

Top quote
One of the stars of the show, Joel Salatin (pictured above), is a livestock farmer in Virginia: “It's one of the most important battles for consumers to fight: the right to know what's in their food, and how it was grown.”

#3 Down on the Farm

A collection of six short documentary films about farmers and farming in north Devon, this series reveals personal stories, enlightening local communities and connecting us with our farming neighbours. One short called One Acre, follows new entrant farmers Liv and Henry from Down Farm, a 1 acre no-dig organic farm and the reality of life on land. Another called Get Bigger, Get Different, follows Wayne Copp, an organic beef farmer. The documentary explores the family’s farming history, who have lived and worked on the farm for over 150 years. You can watch the short films, here.

Why is it important?
Not all farming is the same, there’s a huge difference between industrial and small-scale farming, especially when it comes to meat too. If you want to understand how small-scale farmers work, these shorts reveal the lives and work of sustainable farmers, many of whom come from generational families and love what they do.

Top quote
“I love my cattle, I really do. They have their own social groups, moods, their own character, they even have little disputes; they sulk; they mourn. They never cease to surprise me after 25 years. I would find it hard to imagine life without my cattle.”

#4 Just Eat It

Two filmmakers and food lovers decide to embark on a six-month experiment of eating only food that is discarded, or buying produce that will be discarded from a supermarket. While doing so, they explore the issue of waste from farm, through retail, all the way back to their own fridge. With interviews from food activists such as Tristrum Stuart, the story is entertaining, enlightening while also highlighting how small personal changes can make major sustainability issues solvable – and even delicious.

Why is it important?
Food waste charity Love Food Hate Waste say that the average UK family could save £700 if they were more careful about throwing out food. Not only that, but food waste and loss accounts for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Time to save money and the environment by using up those leftovers!

Top quote
“We all love food. As a society, we devour countless cooking shows, culinary magazines and foodie blogs. So how could we possibly be throwing nearly 50% of it in the trash?”

#5 Cooked

This popular Netflix series is an adaptation of Micheal Pollan’s book by the same name. The four-part series takes an anthropological look at food, how cooking has changed throughout history and the key role that the elements – air, water, fire, and earth – play in food preparation and in different food cultures. From a Moroccan baker to the manager of a cacao farm or the people who run a community kitchen in India, they all tell the story of why food matters.

Why is it important?
From delivery meal kits to premade meals, we have given companies the role of cooking for us. If we don’t prepare and cook for ourselves, we are most likely eating processed food, premade and laden with addictive salt, fat and sugar. Cooked certainly nudges us to get back into our kitchen, and fast.

Top quote
“For is there any practice less selfish, any labour less alienated, any time less wasted, than preparing something delicious and nourishing for people you love?”

#6 Vanishing of the Bees

Our honeybees are disappearing in staggering numbers, which has been called colony collapse disorder. This award-winning documentary tells the story of two US commercial beekeepers who are in crisis, exploring the struggles they face as they plead their case to government and travel across the Pacific Ocean in the quest to protect their honeybees. As scientists puzzle over the cause, organic beekeepers suggest alternative reasons for this dramatic loss.

Why is it important?
Bees are crucial to our economy. About 75% of crop plants require pollination by insects and animals – and bees are some of our most important pollinators. Without them it would cost UK farmers £1.8 billion a year to pollinate our crops. That could seriously impact the price you pay for food and our economy.

Top quote
“A lot of people out there don’t realise that one out of every three bites of food they stick in their mouths, these honeybees put on their dinner table. And if they’re not here?”

Katie Roche

Katie Roche

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