College is a good time to take control of your diet and health, especially if you have bad cafeteria food, fear the Freshman Fifteen, want to take advantage of the free Health and Recreation Center or maybe you just figured now is a good time to start. When the next time you happen to be bored, need to kill time between classes or merely have a mental break, you can find these documentaries on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video (discounted prices and free trials are available for students).
1. Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret
Ah, the movie that turned me vegetarian and not exactly for reasons you would expect. The leading cause of water depletion, global warming, deforestation, species extinction and ocean dead zones is our beef industry. A cow's digestive process produces large amounts of methane that are 25 to 100 times more destructive than carbon dioxide from vehicles and produces 51% of our total greenhouse gasses. Raising livestock just in the United States requires at least 34 trillion gallons of water and consumes a third of our planet's fresh water. An acre of rainforest is cleared every second and the leading cause is to clear land for animal grazing - contributing to 91% of amazon destruction. The list goes on and on. The movie elaborates that there is no sustainable way to raising enough meat to meet the world's demands.
2. Food Inc.
With free versions available on Youtube, this documentary addresses the issue of corporate farming in America tackling the issues surrounding industrial meat production, large-scale production of vegetables and grains and the ways in which economic and legal power controls the safety of our food and the way we eat. "This isn't farming, it's just mass production like an assembly line in a factory," said Carole, the former Perdue chicken farmer.
Three diverse omnivorous New Yorkers ditch animal-based foods for six weeks in order to study the alleged health benefits of veganism. The documentary follows them on their six-week struggle, studying and comparing their health from the first week to the last. They are educated on the production of their pre-vegan lifestyle diet and determine if veganism is something our nation should take more seriously. This documentary follows the three experimentees on their emotional struggle to find out what is right and what is wrong.
4. GMO OMG
Jeremy Seifert, a concerned father, is in search of answers of how GMOs (genetically modified organisms) affect the health of our planet and ourselves, along with our freedom of food choice. His research leads him all around the world to places like Paris, Haiti, Norway, the lobby of agra-giant Monsanto and his own kitchen table. Seifert raises the big questions of why nature is now patented, why non-toxic foods are now toxic and why it is so difficult to get GMO-labeling from the government. Seifert wants us, the consumers, to have a voice about what is on our plates.
5. Sugar Coated
Followed by a rise in heart disease, obesity and diabetes, doctors are now seeing children with fatty liver disease, all correlated through the overconsumption of sugar. The film examines the effects not just on the sugar we choose to eat, but on the added sugar we unknowingly eat. As "Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy" plays in the background, 1500 internal documents of the sugar organization are exposed, ending the silence when it comes to the science behind sugar. We have never been exposed to this much sugar intake in the entire human history, so how does that affect us?
I have always been a huge water drinker, but after watching this movie I refuse to drink from bottled water unless absolutely necessary. I am sure you all know about how much pollution plastic water bottles contribute, but this movie is about much more than that. Besides from the plastic waste, the production process in incredibly toxic. Not only does it affect our environment, but our health. Communities around plastic water bottle production sites have to fight for their lives after being exposed to the toxic waste the production puts into our environment. Do you know where your bottled water comes from and how so much water is bottled for our consumption?
Next time you find yourself curling up with popcorn to watch some Netflix, will you question if your corn is GMO-free? Will you check for the amount of sugar in the coke you're drinking? Will you really want to eat that piece of pepperoni on your pizza? These movies provide insight on how to choose to be healthy and how to be a sustainable, organic and conscience eater.
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