10 Billion: What's on Your Plate?

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
10 Billion: What's on Your Plate? Movie Poster Image
Informative docu on feeding a growing planet.
  • NR
  • 2015
  • 107 minutes

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Positive Messages

Shows the power of individuals around the world who are transforming the way their communities purchase and consume the world's resources -- through organic farming, community gardens, growing regionally sourced produce, etc. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

In response to wasteful food consumption, questionable farming practices, concerns about GMOs, and the fact that 10 corporations control 75 percent of the world seed market, individuals are shown trying to address these concerns through direct community action: setting up community gardens and urban gardens and using organic methods to raise crops.


One use of the word "s--t." 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that 10 Billion: What's on Your Plate? is a 2015 German documentary that addresses the issue of how to feed a growing world population amid shrinking resources. While this documentary clearly favors organic, small-scale, and community-based solutions as the best long-term strategy to feeding the world, it gives fair balance to those who see genetic modification, factory farming, large agribusiness, and technology as the better solutions. Pros and cons of all arguments are presented. While the filmmaker, environmental journalist Valentin Thurn, travels across the globe to discuss the issue and potential solutions, the overall pace and presentation is most likely too dry for younger viewers. But for teens and parents who share similar concerns every time they shop at the supermarket, the comprehensive approach to this documentary should inspire thoughtful discussion on the impact each of us has on the world around us simply by our food choices. There's one use of the word "s--t." 

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What's the story?

In 10 BILLION: WHAT'S ON YOUR PLATE?, environmental journalist Valentin Thurn addresses a fundamental question: How do we feed a growing planet? By 2050, Earth's population is expected to reach 10 billion. This comes at a time when countries such as India are starting to consume more meat in the manner of the dietary habits of Western Europe and North America, an unsustainable way of eating: It would require three Earths to feed the world in the manner of Western countries. This also comes at a time when 10 corporations control 75 percent of the world seed market. Thurn travels across the globe -- to Malawi, the American Midwest, India, the United Kingdom, Japan, and Germany -- to see the large and small-scale approaches to feeding the world that corporations, scientists, farmers, and citizen-activists are exploring in the hopes of meeting future demand. 

Is it any good?

This is a documentary offering something rare: a strong point of view while also presenting all sides to an argument without resorting to demonizing those who hold different ideas. Indeed, Valentin Thurn -- the director, reporter, and narrator of the film -- clearly advocates a smaller-scale, community-centered approach to addressing the challenges of feeding an ever increasing human population, but is secure enough in the opinion to address downsides to the solutions he favors (organic food, for instance, is a luxury not many in the world can afford no matter where you live), and gives plenty of space to scientists, industrialists, and speculators who espouse different views. 

Rather than forcing opinions as truth, the film leaves it up to the audience to come to their own conclusions based on the comprehensive facts presented, and this in no way lessens or diminishes the power of what Thurn believes. In a time when older viewers might be waxing nostalgic for the return of equal time laws to our beyond-toxic public discourse, 10 Billion: What's on Your Plate? shows we can find the answers without resorting to demonizing, name-calling, and belittling. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about documentaries. How does 10 Billion: What's on Your Plate? compare to other documentaries you've seen? 

  • Who is the intended audience for this documentary?

  • Can a documentary be biased toward one point of view while still giving fair and equal space to different opinions? How might an equal presentation of all opinions and perspectives from those who care about an issue help society uncover the truth rather than "spin"? 

  • How could you learn more about the topics presented here?

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