In my previous life as a chronic academic, I taught a class called Anthropology Through Film and Fiction. We took four major cultural topics and viewed them through a variety of lenses, including films. Food is a central concern in anthropology -- from how it's produced to the rules governing when, where, and how it can be cooked and eaten -- and it was my favorite of our subjects.
There are so many great films and books about food. We watched Babette's Feast and Eat, Drink, Man, Woman. We read Like Water for Chocolate and Farmer Boy, a great view of the tremendous work involved food self-sufficiency. One year, we also watched Tampopo, which is a wonderful movie about food obsessions, but the raw egg scene freaks me out too much, so after the first year it was on a list of films they could watch on their own if they wanted more. I chalk that up to my years in food service, which were pretty much smack-dab in the middle of the Northeast's salmonella scare when over-easy eggs were featured in nightmares.
Today, there is a vast cultural shift taking place on the screen. Movie after movie is vilifying industrial agriculture; celebrating the local, the organic, the small; and shining a spotlight on how we eat. After decades of growth in industrial agriculture following World War II, people are starting to say no and the movement is being both documented in and driven by films that inform and/or expose industrial agriculture and the diet it supports. We have seen our national government resisting these changes, in the fight to continue to count pizza sauce as a serving of vegetables, for instance. This cultural shift, like so many, is being driven by grassroots action and even grassroots documentation.
There are too many films to name, but here are links for many of the films that have crossed my radar and that I've either seen or want to see:
Forks Over Knives
Fridays at the Farm
Dirt: The Movie
As We Sow
In Search of Good Food
There are many others out there. Have you seen any of these? Do you have a review to share? Do you know of other movies that should be on this list? Use our comments section to share!