Have you ever found yourself wondering how much you know about food? Would you like to learn more about the culinary arts and food around the world? Maybe, you are curious about how food is produced, or you may be interested in how different diets affect health or the environment. Luckily, there are interesting food documentaries available to stream, so you can broaden your knowledge and satisfy your curiosity.
To help you out, we searched for documentaries that offer interesting topics about different aspects of food. Begin with our top pick: Salt Fat Acid Heat, hosted by Samin Nosrat. In this food documentary, the host takes viewers around the world to discover how these four elements of cooking blend together to create the perfect dish. For more food documentaries, check out our 10 best picks. If you need more tips on how to find the perfect food documentary, check out our buying guide, which was reviewed by a registered dietitian.
Rachel Binkley is a registered dietitian who helps individuals develop healthy habits that fit into their lifestyle. She recommends adequate intakes of all micronutrients to help prevent deficiency as well as chronic conditions that may arise. You can keep up with her recipes, lifestyle, and more on Instagram or her blog, S'more Satisfaction.
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Table of Contents
With the number of food documentaries available online, here are some tips to help you narrow down your choices and select the right food documentary for you!
Choosing a film to watch usually depends on your mood. Think about what you feel like learning and what you seek to gain from watching a food documentary. This will help you choose among the various choices available!
From chefs learning to perfect their craft to farmers and their challenges as they work for the food industry, and even stories of everyday people and their journey to a healthy diet, biographies provide an intimate look at a person’s relationship with food.
An example of this kind of documentary is Jiro Dreams of Sushi by David Gelb. The film follows Jiro’s life and career as he seeks perfection in the art of creating the perfect sushi.
Scientific documentaries cover a vast range of topics. From GMOs to advanced food processing techniques and how it has impacted the food industry, to nutrition and discussions on the latest diets that are trending, these documentaries keep viewers informed.
Even though these kinds of documentaries are backed by research, viewers should keep in mind that they are not free from bias. They are sometimes agenda-driven and want to make a stand regarding certain topics. It is best to do some of your own research into the credentials of the filmmakers and the documentary itself.
If you are in the mood for something adventurous, travel films that explore food cultures will be up your alley. These documentaries show you different types of food from around the world and can introduce you to exotic dishes.
Some of these documentaries will show you how the culture of a place influences its cuisine. One such example is Ugly Delicious starring David Chang.
Some documentaries seek to uncover controversies within the food industry and expose the harm that corporations create. From food waste to the controversy regarding GMOs to the food industry's impact on the environment, these kinds of films often have a clear message they want to send.
These documentaries may have a firm stance and can incite strong emotions from the viewer. We suggest approaching their topics with an open mind and researching further on your own. Another tip is to get an unbiased perspective by watching documentaries with opposing viewpoints to understand both sides.
Two examples of documentaries with opposing views are Food Evolution by Scott Hamilton Kennedy, which supports GMOs, and OMG GMO by Jeremy Seifert, which is against GMOs.
If you are curious about the many diets available, some documentaries cater to specific diets and lifestyles. Some talk about the keto diet, vegetarian diet, or veganism, and discuss how it has benefited the people who chose to undergo said diet.
Others talk about health problems such as obesity, diabetes, and cancer and their connection to improper food intake. These are for viewers who want to be more aware of their diet and their health.
Instead of searching by genre, you can also search for documentaries that are focused on a region or country whose cuisine and culinary culture intrigues you, or a topic you're interested in. Here are some examples to guide you.
Discover food documentaries that focus on culinary professionals and the techniques that they have mastered through the years. Some of these films may introduce you to food around the world as well, but these are more focused on illustrating the culinary arts from a professional's perspective.
Here, chefs and bakers may give you advice that you can apply to your everyday life should you find yourself wanting to cook or bake. An example of this is Chef’s Table by Boardwalk Pictures. It follows several chefs around the world and their different styles in creating unique dishes.
Culture is a big influence on cuisine. Documentaries that focus on this dive deep into a cuisine’s region or country of origin. They explore the culture and unique flavors, looking at the ingredients and exploring the techniques that make their cooking special.
An example is the Street Food Series by David Gelb and Brian McGinn. This takes viewers around the world to experience an authentic representation of a country’s culture.
When choosing a documentary, check the creators of the film and their backgrounds and see if their credentials match the topic of the documentary. If they're giving health advice and there aren't any health professionals featured in the documentary, for example, it might be better to search elsewhere.
Almost all documentary makers create them with a biased view, so approaching these films with a bit of skepticism and checking their credentials and their general stance on the topic at hand will help you understand their perspective and how it applies to you. Make sure to research the sources of the documentaries as well.
Some food documentaries are just a single film but others may be broken down into multiple episodes, so decide what your commitment level is and check the documentary's runtime. Details about ratings and times can be found on websites like imdb.com or commonsensemedia.org.
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Salt Fat Acid Heat
Best for Learning About the Essentials of Cooking
Best for Seeing Culinary Professionals' Perspectives
Scott Hamilton Kennedy
Best to Learn About the Argument for Pro-GMO
Anna Chai, Nari Kye
Wasted! The Story of Food Waste
Best for Looking at the Issue of Food Waste
David Gelb et. al.
Street Food: Asia
Best for Exploring the Culture of Street Food
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
Best for a Story About the Art of Perfection
Best for Understanding Agribusiness in America
Roger Ross Williams et. al.
High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America
Best Look at the History of African-American Cuisine
Lucy Kennedy et. al.
Best for an Investigative Look Into Food Production
Marisa Miller Wolfson
Best for Exploring the Vegan Diet
Based on the best-selling cookbook, the author and host Samin Nosrat takes viewers around the world to explore the essentials of cooking. It gives viewers an in-depth look at cooking techniques and showcases a heartwarming journey as the host interacts with the people she meets along the way.
Viewers loved this show's unique take. They loved the interactions between the host and the people she encounters. However, fans of the book may be disappointed that the recipes from the host's cookbook are not featured in this show. Nevertheless, audiences enjoyed the show's execution of the essentials of cooking.
This series takes a creative spin on food documentaries as each episode focuses on a chef and their journey with the culinary arts. It gives audiences a professional lens through which to view the art of cooking. For baking enthusiasts, there is an entire season dedicated to pastry chefs! There is something for everyone in this diverse series.
Audiences praised this documentary for its attention to the life experiences of the chef. They loved the balance between the technicalities of cooking and the personal stories of the chefs they interview. Despite this, viewers agreed that this is worth checking out due to its diversity!
This film dives deep into the controversy of GMOs. It investigates topics such as food safety, the use of pesticides, environmental protection, and health issues. With each topic, the documentary shows scientific evidence to back its arguments.
Viewers appreciated that the film presented both sides of the argument; however, reviewers warned audiences to still do their research, as the film is not bias-free. Nevertheless, it is recommended by audiences because it tackled a topic whose arguments are not fully discussed in most documentaries.
World-renowned chef, the late Anthony Bourdain, takes audiences around the world to show how much food is wasted per year. Despite the weighty topic, the film manages to be uplifting and entertaining as it shows viewers what they can to do help mitigate such a serious problem.
Audiences loved that the documentary kept them engaged because it was easy to follow. Viewers praised the documentary for being eye-opening and for actually presenting solutions to solve the worldwide problem of food wastage, and said it's a must-watch.
This food documentary series immerses viewers in the culture of street food around the world. Each season focuses on the cities in a region: Asia, Latin America and USA. Besides showcasing the variety of street food, it includes interviews with street vendors about their life stories.
Audiences liked the exploration and were moved by the life stories of street vendors. However, some believed that the series could have had a broader scope if it didn't focus so much on one street vendor per episode. Nevertheless, viewers agreed that it is a must-watch!
Released in 2011, this film follows the then 85-year-old Jiro, the owner of the three-star Michelin restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro. It follows his career and his personal life as he strives for excellence in his passion for sushi making.
Viewers have praised the film for being inspirational and moving. They loved that it is also a documentary about being dedicated to one's craft. Some viewers thought that the film could have been shortened, and others wanted the film to showcase more of the art of sushi making. Nevertheless, many agree that this film has a fascinating story.
This film follows two college friends as they look at the corn industry and its history. They tackle how corn dominates food production in America and why it has grown to have such importance.
Viewers loved the insightful approach and how it showcased what happens when greed takes over in food production. But a common complaint is that the pacing was slow. Despite this, viewers agreed that it is a compelling and honest look at the role of corn in the food industry.
Beginning in the African city of Benin, Nigeria and ending in Houston, Texas, this series explores the origins and history of Black cuisine. This show explores how place and culture influenced the recipes that are familiar in American kitchens today.
The majority of the reviews mentioned how the series is very informative and moving at the same time. However, some audiences pointed out that the host does not seem well-versed with the topics. Nevertheless, reviewers recommend this show because of its creativity and its approach to African-American cuisine.
Rotten exposes the corruption within the food production industry. Each episode focuses on a particular industry and investigates the reality behind the global food supply chain. It also features interviews with manufacturers and distributors to reveal what goes on behind the scenes in the food business.
Viewers praised this film for being highly educational and for diving deep into various food production sectors. But some reviewers commented on the slow pace of the series and the lack of consistency regarding the quality of the episodes. Despite this, viewers agree that it is an engaging and informative food documentary.
This is an engaging documentary that explores what the vegan diet is all about. It follows three meat-loving foodies who agree to shift to the vegan diet for six weeks to learn what going vegan truly means.
Viewers liked how the film showcased the health benefits of the vegan diet in comparison to a meat-based diet, but they also mentioned that many of the vegan options shown are still junk food. Despite this, it did not discourage some viewers from converting to a vegan diet.
If you love all things food, check out our other articles to explore. Just make sure you have some snacks handy (we have articles on those, too!)
No. 1: Caroline Suh | Salt Fat Acid Heat
No. 2: David Gelb | Chef's Table
No. 3: Scott Hamilton Kennedy | Food Evolution
No. 4: Anna Chai, Nari Kye | Wasted! The Story of Food Waste
No. 5: David Gelb et. al. | Street Food: Asia
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