Healthy eating habits are paramount to a well-balanced lifestyle. Too often does convenience take priority over a robust diet. More often than not, the average person thinks of food that is “healthy” and food that is “affordable” as being mutually exclusive. In the United States alone, meat can compose almost every meal that an average person will eat over the course of a day. Meat of almost any description can provide nutrients essential to a healthy body, but in the pursuit of becoming and staying healthy it isn’t enough to rely on fast food hamburgers. Even in this era of convenience, picking and choosing the right meat is of paramount importance to staying healthy.
These five films prove that anyone with a taste for meat should use careful judgement when deciding where and from whom to purchase their dinner. Modern farming practices threaten the welfare of millions of animals who are systematically abused in “concentrated animal operations” before becoming “food.” These documentaries prove that you can still have a heart and be a meat eater.
Director Kristin Canty focuses on the rise of private and independent farms, and the ensuing corporate and governmental bullying of these individuals. Practices beyond poor food production etiquette are shown, including government bullying (both physically and through extreme legal action). While the film does not couch its content, it is not entirely a dark look at governmental oppression. Those that choose to independently produce and consume food in this way are given the center stage, and it is shown that the movement is still growing in spite of the negative treatment.
4. Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret(2014)
A more recent entry in the unveiling of America’s meat production industry is a documentary directed by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn,, which was released in mid-2014. This film is centered on the environmental impact of America’s meat production practices. Pollution, excess water consumption, extreme deforestation and even the extinction of entire species are all brought up and pinned on the corporations controlling America’s meat production. The film examines consumer health risks, and poses the question: at what point will current factory farming practices fail to meet the demands of consumers?
3. Food Matters(2008)
Presented herein is a more focused study on how contemporary dietary habits affect the average person, and how a healthy diet can cure numerous afflictions from diabetes to depression. Directors James Colquhoun and Carlo Ledesma suggest that eating well can be difficult, but brings up what are called “superfoods,” which is a term used to refer to natural food that is packed with important nutrients and very few calories. Wheatgrass, goji berries and ginseng are among the foods suggested that can give the body what it needs to function while improving one’s overall health. The important takeaway presented here is that there is more to food consumption than outrage.
2. Food, Inc.(2008)
In a documentary filmed in 2008 by the name of Food, Inc., director Robert Kenner highlights America’s food production and consumption. While America’s meat industry has made strides since Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, this film reveals that the industry still has a long way to go. Much of the practices involved in producing meat, including pork, beef and chicken, are shown to be unsustainable and inefficient. Corporate cost-cutting has led to inhumane treatment of the animals being harvested and the food that is then produced. Furthermore, a scant few companies are in total control of meat production in the United States, leading to what is nearly a monopoly on the country’s food. From production to distribution, even major health concerns are being overlooked in favor of producing more food at a faster rate. It’s a film that has enriched public discourse considerably, and it’s also notable for presenting humane butchery alternatives to factory farming. You can stream it off of Amazon Prime and it also airs periodically on TV (more info here).
1. Our Daily Bread(2005)
A German documentary directed by Nikolaus Geyrhalter which gives less focus to named companies and interviews while focusing more on working conditions and the practices themselves. The production of meats and grains are highlighted for their excessive efficiency. Even animals are shown to be produced as though they were being put together like car parts in an automobile factory. It is also an eye-opening look at the way meat production can be handled inhumanely.
Going through and watching each of the five films mentioned above can leave one with the idea that there is no safe avenue for healthy food consumption, much less meat. However, the alternatives are numerous and while the opposite may appear true, many Americans are becoming more aware of what they are eating. It only takes just a few minutes’ worth of research about where one goes to purchase their meats and grains to ensure the quality of their food. Corporate and governmental greed may be powerful but even if one person at a time educates themselves and changes their habits to combat the rising tide, America’s food production industry can and will see a future free from the chains that bind it.