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Movies to Help You Live Better

Martina Krause in front of the Key West Tropic Cinema
Enjoying movies at the
Key West Tropic Cinema.

Every year the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have their grand award ceremony called The Oscars. It's a way to recognize a few of the best movies, documentaries and shorts that have come out over the previous twelve months. Amid all the excitement of the latest blockbusters, I'd like to shine a light on a few films from the past.

These are projects that expose the people, companies and products we need to be wary of and provide powerful lessons in living healthier lives. If you're trying to make changes in your life, here are three great places to get started.

Super Size Me - In a decidedly unscientific experiment, Morgan Spurlock uses his body as a guinea pig and sees what would happen if he eats nothing but McDonald's food for thirty days. There are just a few rules.

First, every single meal must be from McDonald's, no cheating with outside food. Second, he must eat everything on the menu at least once over the course of the thirty days. Third, if an employee asks if he wants to supersize his order, he has to accept.

At the beginning of the experiment he is tested and his doctor pronounces him in excellent health. Near the end of the thirty days, they are becoming so concerned they want him to terminate the experiment early because they fear for his life. It's a dramatic look into fast food companies and their effects on modern health. If you're living on fast food, this is a film you need to see.

Favorite Quote: "Company's spend billions to make sure that you know their product. In 2001, on direct media advertising, that's radio, television and print, McDonald's spent 1.4 Billion dollars worldwide. On direct media advertising, Pepsi spent more than a billion dollars. To advertise candy, Hershey foods spent a mere 200 million dollars internationally. In its peak year the '5 a Day Vegetable Campaigns' total advertising budget in all media was a lowly 2 million dollars, 100 times less than just the direct media budget of one candy company."

Food, Inc. - The increasing needs of fast food companies for enormous quantities of identical food and the "standardization" of food choices in American supermarkets has led to an incredible concentration of power. A handful of companies now control an enormous percentage of our food supply.

These aren't caring farmers that we imagine who are loving stewards of the land. They're gigantic machines that ignore human health, worker safety and environmental degradation as long as those issues don't cut into their profits.

We have practically indestructible tomatoes, herbicide-resistant soybean seeds and chickens with breasts so big they can't stand up. Along with these advances we have widespread obesity, superweeds that are starting to overrun entire farms, pests that have become immune to all our efforts at eradication and new strains of the often deadly bacteria E. coli.

You'll learn how corporations keep attacking the symptoms but avoid the root problem. Plus, how you can change their behavior simply by making different choices.

Favorite Quote: "There is a deliberate veil, this curtain, that's dropped between us and where our food is coming from. The industry doesn't want you to know the truth about what you are eating because if you knew, you might not want to eat it."

Bigger Stronger Faster- In America it's all about being the biggest, the strongest and the fastest. Our culture is often defined as win-at-all-costs where nothing matters but the ultimate victor.

This is the story of director Christopher Bell and his two brothers who grew up wanting to be just like famous bodybuilders Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hulk Hogan and Sylvester Stallone. To emulate their heroes, they descend into the steroid-subculture to grab their piece of the American dream.

Along the way, they discover many of the people they idolized broke the rules to get where they are. Once you discover your heroes broke the rules, who do you follow, the rules or your heroes?

Favorite Quote: "Is it still cheating if everyone's doing it?"

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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.