In my defense, I have been spending an awful lot of my free time actually IN the garden — while it’s getting chilly and the leaves are falling elsewhere, summer has finally arrived in Oakland, along with a lot of my harvest! Green beans, eggplant, corn, tomatoes, carrots — and while all of that is coming out, new stuff gets to go in: I’ve planted snap peas, more carrots, onions, garlic, and salad greens for the winter. Needless to say, it’s been a deliciously busy month!
But I’ve also been distracted by something of a vice: HBO’s The Wire. It’s entirely not garden related, but man oh man… I can’t get enough of Omar, Stringer Bell, and good ol’ McNulty!
Anyone who has no idea what I’m talking about needs a Netflix account.
Which brings me to the bulk of my post — in between Wire episodes (which I anxiously await to arrive in the mail), I’ve been scoping out some of the food and agriculture related films on Netflix, many of which are available to play instantly online!
Now, I apologize for anyone who doesn’t have a Netflix account. But I DID already tell you that you need one, so… no excuses. All of you heading into autumn — with harvests already behind you — might appreciate this list of movies for those cold, lengthening nights, as you dream about what you’ll sow next spring!
Sarah’s Rating: Four Stars (average 3.7)
Two young guys from Boston move to small-town Iowa to grow one acre of corn in an experiment to learn how America’s most subsidized crop is grown and to track where their acre ends up in the food system. It’s funny, informative, and hey — they even visit the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota (a very memorable stop on my own family’s 1995 cross-country road trip!).
Sarah’s Rating: Five Stars (average 4.1)
It’s a classic by now, but this one sticks with me as my introduction to food-related documentaries. The interviews are excellent — you get a sick-of-the-system chicken lady, a salt-of-the-earth all around organic farmer, and of course, my idol (and hopefully future professor), Michael Pollan. If you haven’t already seen it, definitely add this one to your queue (or watch it instantly tonight!).
Sarah’s Rating: Five Stars (average 3.9)
Lesser known, but perhaps my favorite of all the food movies I’ve seen, this one follows a low-income, mostly Latino neighborhood in Los Angeles as they create the largest (14 acres!) community garden in the country — before they’re forced to fight the impending bulldozers of the owners and developers. Tragic, charming, inspiring, and controversial, don’t watch this one when you’re looking for a happy ending.
Still in waiting my instant queue:
The Botany of Desire — Oh, Michael Pollan, I can’t resist.
The Future of Food — Delves into the “unappetizing truth about genetically modified foods.”
Food Matters — How the food we eat is helping — and hurting — our health.
A Beautiful Truth — An investigation of the idea that diet can cure cancer and other diseases.
Super Size Me — Eating nothing but McDonalds, the director takes “a hilarious and often terrifying look at the effects of fast food on the human body.”
Mondovino — A French film looking at Big Wine versus family-run wineries in Europe, South America, and the United States.
Julie and Julia — OK, I know, this one doesn’t quite deserve to be on this list. But lots of women who know me and my love of food, cooking, etc. tell me I have to see it, so here it is.
How to Cook Your Life — Part Zen meditation, part cooking class, it’s about “the role food plays in our bodies and spirits.”