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Top 5 Netflix Documentaries


As I surveyed my bookshelf and noticed that I had more nonfiction checked out of the library than fiction, I worried. Had I become a boring adult?

Not at all. Facts are exciting, and being interested enough to read a whole book about one subject--be it about the Silk Road, insects, Elizabeth I, or Johannes Vermeer--is retaining the curiosity of childhood. I love film and not-for-profits and facts: documentaries, therefore, are one of my favorite things to watch. 

Here are my top five right now:

1. Street Food Around the World

Do you like food? Do you like travel? Do you like enthusiastic, well-dressed hosts of TV shows? Then you'll love this feel-good documentary where the host, Ishai Golan, travels everywhere, from India to Peru, trying primarily street food. Have something to eat with you, though.

2. Cowspiracy

A very informative documentary about the agriculture industry and its impacts on the environment. It convicted me and made me more thoughtful about my food choices.

3. Living on One Dollar

A group of four college students, two of them economics majors, go to Guatemala and live on one dollar a day, the average earning of those in the area. It highlights not only the effects and day-to-day choices of people in poverty, but inquires deeper questions into the meaning of life. There's one scene at the end, after we've seen the four go through their rations and illnesses and arguments, where they are making a traditional Guatemalan dinner for neighbors who had been kind to them, and they're all dancing in the dark under a hut with music streaming from a radio, and that moment shows that so little is needed to enjoy kernels of true joy.

4. The True Cost

This one covers the garment industry, particularly in China and Bangladesh, and the abuse that workers are put through, why they can not protest their terrible working conditions, and what we can do to help. It made me actually put myself on a clothing ban unless the items were second-hand or from ethical companies. (So far, it's going good! Not only do I get nice finds from the thrift store, I also am spending less on clothes and learning to do with what I have.)

5. Raiders of the Lost Art

Think Antique's Roadshow, except no uncomfortable feeling of waiting in the doctor's office for your sister who has the flu or waiting for the car to be fixed up while watching people become richer (by chance!) than you'll ever be and daydreaming how rich you would be if your Indian ancestors just saved you a spoon or a pot or something. Okay, well -- art history is one of the most fascinating angles on history to me, and this show has episodes dedicated to specific mysteries of lost art or significant pieces of art. The Van Gogh one made me cry, but that's just because Van Gogh makes us all cry.

(and bonus! A Year in Burgundy, if it ever comes back on Netflix, is about winemakers in France, and it made me emotional - how connected they were to their craft and how they respected it.)

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