Chew on This: 5 Eye-Opening Food Documentaries Worth Watching, ASAP

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As a generation, we are completely and utterly fixated on food – sometimes to the point of it being an almost unhealthy obsession. Raise your hand if you know someone who refuses to eat without Instagramming her meal first, is guilty of gaining the notorious “Dubai stone” and then some, advises others on appetite suppressants without any sense of irony, bounces from one meal plan to the next, or has mastered the art of calorie-counting in ways that even MyFitnessPal can’t compete with.

And now, more than ever, it seems the hot-button issue of all things food is dominating our dinner conversations. Between The Founder – a film about how an ethically challenged traveling salesman turned the McDonald’s brand into an empire – currently showing at the movies, the recent announcement about the creation of UAE Food Bank in order to reduce food waste, and plans to include calorie counts on menus to tackle the UAE’s growing obesity epidemic, it’s evident that we have to start making more informed (and rational) decisions when it comes to food.

Documentary films are a great starting point in this regard. Powerful, eye-opening, and sometimes controversial, they educate people on the often-unknown truths behind the food we consume and how it affects us in ways that feel engaging and relatable. Here, Savoir Flair introduces five must-see documentaries that promise to change the way you view your next meal.

1

Forks over Knives

Yes, it sounds like a 96-minute infomercial about cutlery, but Forks over Knives is actually a documentary that makes an incredibly strong case for switching to a plant-based diet. Mapping the personal journeys of researchers Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and Dr. T. Colin Campbell, it explores the notion that a whole host of degenerative diseases such as diabetes and heart disease can be controlled – and even reversed – by moving away from the modern-day diet of processed and animal-based foods. Rumor has it that singer Ariana Grande went vegan after watching this film.

Watch it here.

2

Fed Up

While this documentary may be about how childhood obesity has become a medical issue of epic proportions in the United States, it’s one that the UAE’s residents should take just as seriously – after all, nearly 33 percent of children in the UAE are obese, according to World Health Organisation. Narrated and executive-produced by Katie Couric, Fed Up doesn’t shy away from exposing how powerful sugar-industry lobbyists have long been able to prevent legislation that promotes public health from passing. Within no time, you’ll see why it is the one film that the food industry “doesn’t want you to see”.

Watch it here.

fed up documentary poster
Photo: Courtesy of Beliefnet

3

Embrace

Admittedly, Embrace doesn’t highlight a particular aspect of the food industry nor how our dietary habits have changed over time. It does, however, explore a phenomenon that is often intrinsically linked to our consumption of food – body loathing. A must-see for any woman, regardless of age, this uplifting Australian documentary follows the journey of positive body-image activist Taryn Brumfitt from self-loathing to self-acceptance amongst the objectification of women, the excessive photo editing of women in the media, and the often questionable tactics employed by brands to target women’s insecurities. If you constantly find yourself in a love/hate relationship with your body, this one’s for you.

Watch it here.

4

Dive!

Another one that that hits close to home – both literally and figuratively – is Dive! A staggering 96 billion pounds of food are thrown away every year in the United States, causing filmmaker Jeremy Seifert to question why it isn’t being given to those who need it, instead. That’s when he starts to dumpster dive in the garbage receptacles of grocery stores across Los Angeles in order to quell his curiosity about what happens when perfectly edible food goes straight to a landfill. Not only is this award-winning documentary socially and environmentally conscious, but it’s also guerilla journalism at its finest.

Watch it here.

dive documentary 3
Photo: Courtesy of The Nail That Sticks Up

5

Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead

While juicing may be a highly divisive topic in the health community, it plays a starring role in this lighthearted but fascinating documentary that depicts Australian futures trader Joe Cross’ quest to regain his health as he travels across the United States – juicer in tow. Battling a chronic autoimmune disorder and 100 pounds of excess weight, he realizes that prescription drugs are merely a band-aid for his health issues and vows to survive on nothing but fruit and vegetable juice for 60 days straight. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more therapeutic road trip on film.

Watch it here.

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