This month, Netflix released a new documentary series about food called Rotten. While the network is known for mouthwatering documentaries like Chef’s Table, this piece shows a very different side of the food industry. The show sheds light on fraud and corruption within the multibillion-dollar system. The six-episode true-crime series takes the viewers behind the scenes of a complicated world with plenty of ethical grey areas.
As the show’s title indicates, the overarching theme throughout the episodes unveils a troubling situation bubbling just beneath the surface of a closely regulated industry. While the show reveals what the food industry is doing, it is not meant to chide viewers about poor food choices or eating habits.
Instead, each episode is meant to inform the viewer of unethical or illegal business behaviors in the system that impact almost everyone who eats food in the United States. In doing so, the stories examine dishonest food companies, flawed government regulations and the consequences of questionable international trade practices.
In Rotten, each episode focuses on the production and consumption of entirely different types of foods, such as fish, chicken, milk, honey, peanuts, and garlic. While the personalities range from farmers to scientists to consumers, the show interviews people from both sides of the issues raised.
The team who created Rotten, Zero Point Zero, have quite a bit of experience with the food industry. They are the same people behind the famous chef and TV personality Anthony Bourdain. Having brought shows like Parts Unknown and No Reservations to life, it seems logical that the same group would dig deeper into the complicated world of food.
The general idea behind the series is meant to help consumers think more about what’s on their plates and how their decisions are helping shape the quality of their food. By making viewers uneasy about what is going on, the show nudges people and suggests that they start questioning how the food industry has shaped our lives.
Today, most people have come to associate their food sources as restaurants and grocery stores with little thought about the companies or people behind the items. But the message behind the series is clear: Think twice about where your food is really coming from, and do your best to be sure it’s from a trusted source.