Skip to Main Content

IU Themester Streaming and DVD Resources


Food surrounds us. In the well-off western world, we are never more than a few steps or minutes away from calories we can consume. The USA spends $1.24 trillion per year on food: we have so much that we waste 40% of what we produce, yet millions still suffer from hunger. Food fills our minds and culture as well as our bellies—real and virtual, it appears in all our media. It occupies our researchers in biology, chemistry, neuroscience, anthropology, and psychology, and is central to political and economic debates. Concern with food provides rich ground for the study of history and ethics. It lies at the heart of the traditional practices of many world religions, and is often reflected in art and music.

This Themester aims to provoke debate and discussion concerning the vast networks of peoples, technologies, and environmental systems that make even the simplest meal possible. Common contemporary issues that demand our attention include: What are the implications of state regulation of diet and nutrition for a society founded on a commitment to individual liberty? How much responsibility should fall to the diner or the chef for the way the food they choose is harvested or processed? How can we feed 10 billion people without causing irreparable ecological damage? Should we care about how equitably that food is distributed? These and other questions explore the ways in which our representations and consumption of food connect us to our social, cultural, and biological worlds. - Adapted from IU Themester Homepage

IUB Streaming Titles

The following resources require IUB CAS Authentication.

Tampopo (1985, 115 min.)

First Image: Tampopo Film Poster. Digital Image. Criterion. ; Second Image: Image From a Ramen Restaurant. Digital Image. Eater. 

The tale of an eccentric band of culinary ronin who guide the widow of a noodle-shop owner on her quest for the perfect recipe, this rapturous "ramen western" by Japanese director Juzo Itami is an entertaining, genre-bending adventure underpinned by a deft satire of the way social conventions distort the most natural of human urges, our appetites. Interspersing the efforts of TAMPOPO and friends to make her café a success with the erotic exploits of a gastronome gangster and glimpses of food culture both high and low, the sweet, sexy, and surreal TAMPOPO is a lavishly inclusive paean to the sensual joys of nourishment, and one of the most mouthwatering examples of food on film ever made.

Soul Food Junkies: A Film About Family, Food, & Tradition (2012, 64 min.)

Soul Food Junkies Film Poster]. Digital Image. Kanopy. 

Award-winning filmmaker Byron Hurt offers a fascinating exploration of the soul food tradition, its relevance to black cultural identity, and its continuing popularity despite the known dangers of high-fat, high-calorie diets. Inspired by his father's lifelong love affair with soul food even in the face of a life-threatening health crisis, Hurt discovers that the relationship between African-Americans and dishes like ribs, grits, and fried chicken is deep-rooted and culturally based. At the same time, he moves beyond matters of culture and individual taste to show how the economics of the food industry have combined with socioeconomic conditions in predominantly black neighborhoods to dramatically limit food choices. 

Bottled Life (2012, 90 min., ]

Bottled Life Film Poster. Digital Image. IMDb. 

Do you know how to turn ordinary water into a billion-dollar business? In Switzerland there's a company which has developed the art to perfection - Nestlé. This company dominates the global business in bottled water. Swiss journalist Res Gehringer has investigated this money-making phenomena, however Nestlé refused to cooperate, on the pretext that it was "the wrong film at the wrong time." So Gehringer went on a journey of exploration, researching the story in the USA, Nigeria and Pakistan. His journey into the world of bottled water reveals the schemes and strategies of the most powerful food and beverage company on our planet.

Connected by Coffee (2014, 70 min.)

Connected by Coffee Film Poster. Digital Image. Roast Magazine. 

Connected By Coffee tells the story of Latin American coffee farmers and how our daily brew is deeply connected to the region's troubled past and hopeful future. Following a 1000-mile journey from Mexico to Nicaragua, the film shows how equitable trading relationships are helping empower communities and take a step towards social justice. On every step of the film's journey we see the indomitable spirit of people who are determined to live joyfully in the face of economic, social, and environmental challenges. 

Fresh (2009, 71 min.)

Fresh Film Poster. Digital Image. IMDb. 

Our current industrial method of food production is increasingly viewed as an unsustainable system, destructive to the environment and public health. But what is the alternative? Fresh profiles the farmers, thinkers, and business people across the nation who are at the forefront of re-inventing food production in America. With a strong commitment to sustainability, they are changing how farms are run, how the land is cared for, and how food is distributed. 

Dark Waters (2019, 127 min.)

Dark Waters Film Poster. Digital Image. ShowTime. 

Inspired by a shocking true story, a tenacious attorney ... uncovers a dark secret that connects a growing number of unexplained deaths due to one of the world's largest corporations. In the process, he risks everything--his future, his family, and his own life--to expose the truth. 

El Cacao: The Challenge of Fair Trade (2015, 20 min.)

First Image:El Cacao Film Poster. Digital Image. IMDb. ; Second Image: Farmers Harvesting Cacao. Digital Image. Social Justice Film Festival. 

El Cacao exposes the dark side of chocolate production in Latin America by examining the economics of Fair Trade from the point of view of the indigenous farmers as they attempt to sustain their community through the growth, harvest, and trade of cacao beans in the global market. This 20-minute documentary film highlights the life of an indigenous Ngabe farmer in Panama and his unconditional devotion to this so-called "superfood." 

Fast Food Off the Shelf (2011, 74 min.)

Fast Food Off the Shelf Bolivian Film Poster. Digital Image. FilmAffinity. 

In December of 2002, McDonald's had to shut down their restaurants in Bolivia. The company cited financial problems, but the real reasons were to be found elsewhere. Bolivia may be a small, poor nation on the global market, but a country's fierce local food culture can be sometimes a more powerful factor than economic clout. In his first feature-length documentary, Fernando Martinez shows what happened, a story driven by the characters behind the events and their life stories, such as renowned cooks and a review of popular sayings about the Bolivian food. The symbolism is obvious when a multinational giant is 'brought to its knees' by a country's traditions and heritage.

White Material (2009, 105 min.)

First Image: Maria Vial on her Plantation. Digital Image. Roger Ebert. ; Second Image:White Material Film Poster. Digital Image. IMDb. 

In an unidentified French-speaking West African country, chaos reigns as civil war erupts. For the rebels, it's time to banish the 'white material' -- white folk and the trappings of white life. Among these is the Vial coffee plantation inhabited by Maria, her ex-husband Andre, their son Manuel, and his grandfather Bernard, a white family of French origin. Their terrified workers have fled, leaving the crop un-harvested, the front gate unlocked. Andre plots his escape with his second wife Lucie and their son Jose. Maria has vowed never to leave, and is neurotically fixated on getting the neglected crop harvested. Maria does not seem to realize, or perhaps wish to see, how she is perceived. Her sense of home, of belonging, and her feeling of being rooted to the plantation--to Africa--will have tragic consequences.

Gas, Food, Lodging (1992, 101 min.)

Gas, Food, Lodging Film Poster. Digital Image. IMDb. 

Love and sex complicate the lives of Nora Evans and her two teenage daughters in this coming-of-age film set in a small New Mexico town. Low-key character study about a waitress and her two daughters during a time of change in their lives.

Explore more awesome documentaries and feature films via IUCAT as well as via IUB's licensed subscriptions to Films for Education, Kanopy and SWANK at Media Services Libguide to Streaming Databases.

IUB DVD/Video Films

Be sure to check with Media Services for hours.  VHS titles are housed off-site at ALF, and can be requested via IUCAT

Food Inc. (2008, 91 min.)

Food Inc. Film Poster. Digital Image. IMDb. 

Explores the U.S. commercial food industry, examining corporate control of supply and market. The film seeks to demonstrate how the incentive for corporate profit can overwhelm consumer health needs, as well as the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and the environment. Reveals various details of food ingredients and additives, and how contemporary mass production methods of food affects U.S. culture.

Ingredients: Who's Your Farmer? (2009, 67 min.)

Ingredients Film Poster. Digital Image. IMDb. 

A sumptuous documentary journey featuring the people inside a movement to bring personal and economic health back to our communities. Spanning four seasons, Ingredients illustrates what's good about food in America.

Hunger for Sale (2014, 55 min.)

Hunger for Sale Film Poster. Digital Image. EMRO Libraries. 

Giant agribusiness and internet companies are investing millions in trying to invent remedies for hunger using new technological forms of nutrition. This film investigates these new methods, efficient for fighting malnutrition, and how they may contribute to increasing the dependence of poor countries on industrialized agriculture.

Banana Wars: Global Fury Over a Humble Fruit (2008, 52 min.)

Banana Wars Film Poster. Digital Image. Films Media Group. 

The history of the banana trade is as politically loaded as that of coffee or oil -- and yet it has received scant media attention over the decades. This documentary addresses that information void, exploring links between corporate power, Western governments, and developing nations that are heavily dependent on banana production as a result of colonial and post-colonial influences.

Seeds of Hunger (2008, 53 min.)

Seeds of Hunger Film Poster. Digital Image. Icarus Films. 

With the world of agriculture confronting the impact of such factors as global warming, population urbanization trends, changes in eating habits, and increased use of grain for biofuels, [this film] outlines the shape of an impending global food crisis. Filmed in Africa, China, Latin America, and the U.S., [the film] examines issues involved in creating such a crisis, including the politics of food security and scarcity, declining food production, and the need for increased production to meet population growth, the impact of genetically modified foods, water shortages, famine, food aid programs, the loss of crop land, and national food production, distribution and export policies.

Divine Food: 100 Years in the Kosher Delicatessen Trade (1998, 47 min.)

Divine Food Film Poster. Digital Image. Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, at UC Berkeley. 

The unique culture and flavor of the Jewish delicatessen is celebrated in this exploration of the kosher manufacturing process. The film focuses on one immigrant family, the Oscherwitzes, manufacturers of deli products since the 1880s.

Eating Alaska (2008, 56 min.)

Eating Alaska Film Poster. Digital Image. Rotten Tomatoes. 

What happens to a vegetarian who moves to the Alaskan Frontier? Eating Alaska is a serious and humorous film about connecting to where you live and eating locally. Made by a former city dweller now living on an island in Alaska and married to [a]fisherman, deer hunter and environmental activist, it is a journey into food politics, regional food traditions, our connection to the wilderness and to what we put into our mouths."

Bitter Seeds (2011, 88 min.)

Bitter Seeds Film Poster. Digital Image. IMDb. 

Industrial agriculture is forcing many small farmers to lose their land due to rising debt. When India had to open its doors to foreign seed vendors such as Monsanto, genetically altered cotton seed was all that was available. These seeds are more expensive, require irrigation, fertilizers and pesticides, and must be re-purchased every season, driving the small farmer into spiralling debt and ultimately suicide.

Farming the Seas (2004, 55 min.)

First Image: An Aquaculture Farm. Digital Image. Bullfrog Films. ; Second Image: Mariculture Farm. Digital Image. Wikipedia. 

Explores what's at stake for us all. As the aquaculture industry explodes across the globe, a growing number of communities and fisheries experts are engaged in and intense debate over its environmental, socio-economic, and health and food safety consequences.

King Corn (2008, 91 min.)

King Corn Film Poster. Digital Image. YouTube. 

Ian and Curt, best friends from college on the East coast, move to the heartland to learn where their food comes from. With the help of friendly neighbors, genetically modified seeds, and powerful herbicides, they plant and grow a bumper crop of America's most-productive, most-subsidized grain on one acre of Iowa soil. But when they try to follow their pile of corn into the food system, what they find raises troubling questions about how we eat, how we farm, and the stuff we're really made of.

Explore more titles related to this topic via IUCAT.

IUB Media Services Blog Posts

Internet Resources

  • Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Articles Link: -- “Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal explores new possibilities for sustainable food production and human nutrition. It provides an interdisciplinary forum for the discussion of agricultural, environmental, nutritional, health, social, economic, and cultural perspectives on food."  

  • Food Environment Atlas, USDA Economic Research Service, 18 Dec., 2020, -- Food environment factors—such as store/restaurant proximity, food prices, food and nutrition assistance programs, and community characteristics—interact to influence food choices and diet quality. These interactions are complex and more research is needed to identify causal relationships and effective policy interventions."

  • Agriculture and Human Values, Journal of the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society,  -- "Agriculture and Human Values is the journal of the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society. The Journal, like the Society, is dedicated to an open and free discussion of the values that shape and the structures that underlie current and alternative visions of food and agricultural systems."

  • The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society, --"The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS) is a prominent professional organization which provides an international forum to engage in the cross-disciplinary study of food, agriculture, and health, as well as an opportunity for examining the values that underlie various visions of food and agricultural systems. From a base of philosophers, sociologists, and anthropologists, AFHVS has grown to include scientists, scholars, and practitioners in areas ranging from agricultural production and social science to nutrition policy and the humanities."

  • The Food Timeline, Lynne Olver, -- "Timeline developed by reference librarian Lynne Olver, who has a passion for food history. The timeline provides links to complete dishes and historically important cookbooks."