Food waste is one of the biggest environmental problems of our time, where about one third of food produced that is intended for human consumption is lost and discarded every year – that’s enough to feed 3 billion people around the world. Food can be lost anywhere throughout the entire supply chain from farm stage to supermarket stocking to domestic households. What’s more, food waste contributes significant amounts of greenhouse gas emissions and to climate change. While there are many great environmental films examining the impacts of farming and agricultural industries, here are some of the best documentaries about food waste. 

Must-See Documentaries About Food Waste

Wasted! The Story of Food Waste (2017)

The clue is in the name, this punchy and informative documentary delves into the detrimental environmental impacts of food waste, the unsustainable practices surrounding food production, and the root of our global food waste problem – our eating habits. Told through the perspective of some of the most famous chefs including the late Anthony Bourdain, Wasted! The Story of Food Waste explores the innovative solutions where chefs are able to repurpose food scraps and leftovers to produce some incredible dishes, while advocating the changes individuals need to make to ensure global food security. 

documentaries about food waste, just eat it Just Eat it! A Food Waste Story’s Grant Baldwin and Jen Rustemeyer. Photo by: Pure Souls Media

Just Eat it! A Food Waste Story (2019)

The film follows a Vancouver couple, Grant Baldwin and Jen Rustemeyer, as they attempt to survive exclusively on food waste over the course of six months to illustrate our “systematic obsession with expiry dates, perfect produce, and portion sizes.” Funny and entertaining, Just Eat It and its two filmmakers’ journey encourage audiences to re-examine how they view their food, from when eating out in a restaurant to examining produce at the grocery store. Featuring interviews with author and activist Tristram Stuart and acclaimed author Jonathan Bloom, the documentary will force you to look at your fridge through a new lens. 

A Place At The Table (2012)

One of the best documentaries on food waste, A Place at the Table is a detailed examination on the issue of hunger in the US,  and is centred around the daily lives of three food-insecure Americans as they struggle to feed themselves. In following the documentary’s main protagonists, viewers discover the staggering number of people, including children, who are on federal food assistance or rely on charitable food programmes for basic nutrition, and how hunger poses serious economic, social, and cultural implications for the country. Look out for appearances including actor Jeff Bridges, author Raj Patel, and chef Tom Colicchio, and explore the various policies and solutions needed in tackling hunger in America. 

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Taste the Waste (2010)

Filmmaker Valentin Thurn contextualises exactly how much edible food is wasted every day, from the farm to the dining-room table in this compelling 92-minute documentary. Looking at food waste specifically in the European Union, Taste the Waste examines the systemic problem of how food is easily lost and discarded, whether it is from supermarkets due to aesthetics and expiry dates or how technology is used to discard produce solely based on their colours, as well as its contribution to climate change. Thurn interviews a wide range of stakeholders including farmers and EU bureaucrats to discover the root of the problem, and how we should be more mindful the next time we throw out food. 

Sustainable (2016)

America is facing a food crisis and an increasingly high food demand that is no longer sustainable. In this documentary, filmmakers and food activists Matt Wechsler and Annie Speicher put the spotlight on Marty Travis, a seventh-generation farmer who watched his land and community fall victim to the pressures of big agribusiness, as he transforms his profitless wasteland and pioneers the sustainable food movement in Chicago. Interweaving interviews with experts shedding light on the instability of America’s current food and farming system, this ultimately optimistic film shows how a food revolution can have a positive impact across agriculture, the environment, economics and public health, and how “land can be restored to once again sustain us”.

Food Inc. (2008)

Though this Oscar-nominated documentary does not focus entirely on food waste, it was one of the first notable investigations into corporate farming and how unsustainable agribusiness is degrading the health of humanity and the planet. Diving into the industrial production of meat, grains and vegetables and how economically and environmentally unsustainable it is, Food Inc highlights the manipulative power of American multinational corporations who supply cheap but chemical-ridden food, which props up our persistent food throwaway culture. By drawing attention to the recent booming trend of organic foods, the film compels us to make more environmentally conscious eating choices.

Featured image: Scene from Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story. Photo courtesy of Peg Leg Film.