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TV Show Review | Rotten

by Caroline Grape
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You’ve heard of blood diamonds, right? And you’re probably aware of Fair Trade coffee and chocolate, too. But did you know that honey was at the centre of the biggest food-related scam in U.S. history? Nope, neither did I. Rotten aims to uncover and expose the food world’s biggest secrets and lies. In just under an hour, each episode of this mini-documentary series profiles a new ingredient, and examines its history, socio-economic factors, and unbelievable stories that you have to see to believe. 

Take avocados for example: everyone’s favourite dip for tortilla chips or as a hip brunch snack, smashed up on toast. But did you know that there has a been a gang war raging in Mexico for several years, with kidnappings, bloodshed, and a possible (definitely) totalitarian local regime, all vying for a stake in the new ‘green gold’ – the delicious avocado? Yeah, I didn’t know that one either. Safe to say, I’ll think twice when buying my avocados next time.

This programme will open your eyes up to some extraordinary, and uncomfortable, truths about our food and where it comes from. With episodes focusing on the sugar, wine, and chicken industry; chronicling the meteoric rise of garlic, the sudden spike of food-related allergies, and the ugly truth behind bottled water, you’re in for a wild ride. 

You’ll learn lots about the current social, economic, and political climate facing different parts of the world, ingredients, and agriculture; as well as what dangers and risks the food industry are facing at the moment, and how it impacts you. Thankfully, the show encourages you to purchase or participate more responsibly, reminding us that we have some power as consumers (just so you don’t lose all hope…). You’ll learn about fraudulent food crimes, bloody ingredient wars, and what’s really behind your favourite sweet treat. 

This is an entertaining, albeit sobering, watch; the show is produced with the kind of voiceover you expect of an NCIS drama, there are hard-hitting interviews with desperate farmers, as well as clear crooks, and you’ll see parts of the world that grow foods in ways you never imagined. Prepare to be awed, shocked, and to thoroughly have your mind blown. This show is produced by Netflix in partnership with Zero Point Zero, the same guys that brought you the late Anthony Bourdain’s genius food-programming, Somebody Feed Phil (a personal favorite – look out for that article coming soon!) and Pandemic. The name of the game is high-quality investigative food programming that takes its reputation seriously. 

If you want to understand more about what your food is, the issues with industrial farming and big industry, or, like me, you’re curious to learn more about where your food comes from, this is a must-watch. Prepare to be on the edge of your seat, angry, frustrated, exasperated, and in total shock. You’ll likely never think about your food in the same way again, but you’ll be more able than ever to begin making some conscious choices!

P.S. Once you’ve finished watching, here are some articles you can read to help you make those decisions.

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