“Nothing changes the planet as much as the way we eat.”
This quick little documentary knows exactly what it wants to do. At its heart, Planeat discusses food choices and their resulting impacts both positive and negative. The lens through which we view this subject is the life work of three scientists: Dr. Campbell, whose studies of rats and their populations in China led to the discovery of a link between cancer and diet; Dr. Esselstyn, whose work in nutrition helps slow down — and in some cases reverse — the heart disease he’s treating; and Professor Eshel, who discusses how the link between the production and consumption of food affects the earth in terms of climate change, the oceans, and land use.
Planeat is very effective in delivering its message. While there are definite bits of lecturing, no one on-camera ever devolves into preaching, thus avoiding an automatic wall between message and audience. The filmmakers also wisely bookend the more science-based segments with those featuring world-class chefs preparing organic food; the most appetizing dishes you’ve ever seen. You will definitely find a dish that makes you believe choosing to eat it would be in your taste buds’ best interest.
Presented in standard definition 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, the video quality is all over the place but it’s never distracting. Different cameras were obviously used in the classrooms, at peoples’ homes, and in restaurants. I especially loved the food shots, whose lack of HD lends an additional level of realism, surprisingly enhancing their appeal. The Dolby 5.1 audio is balanced well, something I’d been concerned about when I saw that we’d be spending time outside.
Bonus features aren’t too abundant. We get an abbreviated version of the film for classroom viewing, a deleted scene, an extended interview with a philosopher who appeared briefly in the film, and a trailer. The filmmakers teased us with a couple of recipes in the packaging, but withheld most to get us to their website.
Planeat is quick, concise, well thought out, and delivered sans any heavy political overtones. I recommend it for anyone who’s even vaguely interested in this discussion. You’ll definitely learn something and that’s not always something you can aspire to with films.