Dear readers,this week’s column is in response to a series of questions I regularly get around food and sustainability and the plummeting of Beyond Meat shares this week. Seems people may have wised up to the unwholesomeness of this new, hip, ultra-processed fake food trend. And, while crises around us are occupying more of our mental space, there is no question ultimately more important to the longevity of our species than that of food systems and sustainable production of high-quality, nutrient-dense foods. To this end I am sharing and summarizing several books and documentaries/docu-series on food and sustainability below.
Kiss the Ground
This popular full-length documentary is narrated by Woody Harrelson about regenerative agriculture and documents the importance of holistic solutions for soil, farmers, and ecosystems. It highlights the importance of the microbiome of the soil and how that impacts carbon, with specialists from around the world in regenerative agricultural practices, including my favourite, Allan Savory. If An Inconvenient Truth made you want to give up on humanity, this one may awaken you to a sense of hope again. You can catch it on Netflix and see the official trailer and site here.
Before the Plate
This documentary features Canadian chef, John Home, as he goes on a journey of learning the source of the ingredients he uses in his restaurant. He follows each ingredient back to the farm that produces it and enters into engaging conversions with farmers in the process. You can find it on Prime, YouTube, ITunes, VUDU, and Google Play. The website is set up to be very engaging with invitations to click on ingredients to follow their journey to your plate. Find it here.
The Need to Grow
Narrated by Rosario Dawson, this award-winning documentary tells the story through the lens of three very different environmental leaders: an eight-year-old girl, an inventor, and a farmer. The film focuses on soil regeneration, sustainable growing practices, and the role biotechnology can play in that. If you’re a biotech geek, or want to look at how we can harness biotech in the quest for more sustainable agriculture, this is the film for you. Find out more here.
The Biggest Little Farm
This documentary follows would-be homesteaders, Molly and John Chester, over a period of eight years as they abandon their urban lives to start a 200-acre farm outside Los Angeles, Calif. It documents the couple’s struggles with their undertaking and the role the soil plays in that. If you’re into homesteading, this is one you have to see. You can find it on Hulu, YouTube, Google Play. Find out more here.
This documentary explores the role of the honey bee in farming as the crew follow commercial beekeepers from farm to orchard. Visually stunning and momentous, this one has won a host of awards. It’s available on Prime, Apple TV, Google Play, Kanopy, and Curiosity Stream. You can find out more about it here and watch the trailer here.
Follow the Food
This one is an eight-part docu-series put out by the BBC. It explores the world’s food systems and asks questions about sustainability, on various aspects of the world’s food system, examining where food comes from and exploring potential solutions for increasing sustainability, each episode looking at a different aspect of the problems and solutions. You can watch it and find out more here.
What happens when you start looking at commercial meat farming when you believe meat is essential for human health? Is there a place for meat production in holistic farming? This film asks those questions and does a deep dive into the holistic management of animals and how farmers are exploring this. You can find it on ITunes, Google Play, VUDU, Prime, Dish Network, and INDEMAND. You can find out more about it here.
As the weather is turning cold, I hope this gives families a list of intellectually stimulating and important films to enjoy and discuss. Maybe with a nice bowl of homemade soup or chili. Don’t know how to make a great soup? Send me an email with the subject line SOUP to get notified of my upcoming Sensational Soups online cooking series, where we will make one soup together per week for four weeks. It promises to be lots of fun! Send these emails and any reader questions here.