A good food documentary can take viewers on a transportive, educational and often emotive journey, no matter the time of year. But as the days get shorter and the nights longer, being able to settle in with a well-made film or series is more valuable than ever. As the climate crisis looms, many filmmakers have turned their focus, and a wealth of food documentaries dedicated to sustainability now exist.
Here are five of the best documentaries to watch about sustainable food systems:
Kiss the Ground (2020)
As the makers of this documentary explain, the solution to one of the most pressing environmental issues of today is right below our feet. By regenerating the world’s soils, the documentary argues that we could completely and rapidly stabilise Earth’s climate, restore lost ecosystems and support abundant food supply chains.
This feature-length film shares expert opinions from seasoned activists, scientists and farmers from a range of global organisations. It was also produced in partnership with several vocal celebrity environmentalists including Woody Harrelson, Gisele Bündchen, Jason Mraz, Ian Somerhalder and David Arquette. You can watch Kiss the Ground on Netflix.
Follow the Food (series)
From the journalists and researchers at the BBC, Follow the Food is a collection of short documentaries which explore all manner of issues relating to sustainability and food systems. Themes include food waste, agricultural labour challenges, foodtech, automation within the food industry, food security and producing food in changing climates.
Currently there are three seasons of the series, as well as plenty of accompanying reading materials and image galleries. All Follow the Food content can be accessed on the BBC website.
Hogwood: A Modern Horror Story (2020)
Not for the faint of heart, the 2020 documentary short Hogwood exposes the inner workings of one of the UK’s largest pig farms. It is, as is to be expected, harrowing to watch, but the message behind the shocking footage is an important one.
The makers of the film hope that by bringing these issues to light, those in power within the animal agriculture industry will be pressured to act – stopping the exploitative practice of intensive farming in its tracks. You can watch Hogwood on Netflix.
Urban Farming (2022)
The pandemic made balcony- and window box-farmers of many of us, and many have carried on the practice well beyond lockdown. This Austrian documentary explores the phenomenon of so-called urban farming further.
Telling the story are the urban farmers themselves, letting filmmakers into the hyper-local food systems found in their kitchens, living rooms and more. Such practices are a relatively easy way for consumers to lessen their footprint on the planet, but it doesn’t come without its challenges. You can tune into Urban Farming on Netflix.
Eating Our Way To Extinction (2021)
According to experts cited by Eating Our Way to Extinction, the world has less than 10 years to avoid catastrophic climate crisis. One of the most radical changes we can make in support of this effort is to avoid animal agriculture, filmmakers say.
With a narrative that transports viewers from Taiwanese mountains, to the US Dust Dowl, Norwegian Fjords and the Scottish coastline, the documentary features many of the breathtaking environments which will be most impacted by the climate crisis. Additionally, Oscar-winning actress Kate Winslet lends her voice to the story. You can watch Eating Our Way To Extinction on YouTube.