Food shows and documentaries mean a lot to me. I've been told to stop watching them because they're filled with propaganda, because they make me scared of everything, and because "who wants to live like that anyway?"
Sure, they can be a little frightening, but I learn stuff I never learned in health class or at home.
Plus, I get so inspired to continue to improve my diet and to further my knowledge about what I'm putting into my body. And guess what? If I don't like what I see, I don't have to agree with it.
So today I wanted to share my favorites with you. Most are documentaries about health and the diet industry, but some of them are just meant to change the way you look at the culinary world.
1. Forks Over Knives
Probably the documentary I've watched the most, Forks Over Knives is an in-depth look at how a plant-based diet can reverse many of the many common western diseases.
This film contains provocative data, well-informed researchers, and engrossing personal stories that will have you questioning the way you eat.
2. Fed Up
I saw Fed Up at the Traverse City Film Festival a few years ago, and it lit a fire in me to reduce (or eliminate) processed sugars from my diet. Even when I indulge, I have an awareness of what the sugar is actually doing in my body (again, not something we learned in health class).
There are personal stories in this film as well, and lots of great information about the sugar industry and what the human body can (and can't!) handle.
3. Food Matters
Food Matters is a bit more fueled than the others - it takes a look at the "sickness industry" and explores alternatives to pharmaceuticals. Take what you will from it!
As someone who deals with thyroid issues, I need to revisit this one again soon. Maybe not necessarily for a cure, but for some serious lifestyle inspiration and motivation. It's a good reminder - you are what you eat.
4. Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead
I promise that my next two on this list are uplifting. Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead follows the journeys of several people dealing with obesity, severe migraines and other health issues as they try juice fasts. It does help!
However, I take this one with a grain of salt (heh) as well, since I'm not sure about the health benefits of juice fasting for everyone. I think the great thing about food documentaries is that you can take a little from each one in order to adjust your lifestyle the way you want to.
5. The Mind of a Chef
Okay, so this won't necessarily make you want to eat healthier. In fact, The Mind of a Chef started me on my current obsession with all things Ramen. This show follows one chef per season and explores their inspirations, their processes and their mindsets about food.
The first season follows Chef David Chang on his culinary adventures and goes in-depth about the cultural significance of Ramen, among other foods. Educational, inspiring and beautiful, this show is one of my go-tos.
6. Chef's Table
There's something about watching people cook that just gets me. I usually can't wait to get in the kitchen after watching an episode of Chef's Table.
Each episode follows one chef to learn about his or her beautiful culinary journey. And when I say beautiful, I mean it - this is one of the most visually stunning shows I've ever seen. The next season is due this month, and I'm anxiously awaiting its return.
So whether you're looking to redefine your whole relationship to food, or if you're just looking for some kitchen inspiration, I usually recommend starting with these six.
The best thing about food shows is that you can sample as few or as many as you'd like, then assemble your own plate of values. I haven't gone as extreme as any of the documentaries suggest, but I now really focus on whole, plant-based foods.
I've come a long way from college Emily (who was living on pasta and coffee), and I'd like to say that these shows were a part of that transformation.
What are your favorite food shows?