King Corn: A Good Natured Look at a Scary Industry


I love the movie King Corn! It's a terrific documentary, with just the right mix of facts and laughs to keep things engaging and interesting. I would recommend it to just about anybody. Here's the setup: 2 college buddies, Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, share a scary truth: our generation is the first in history with a shorter life expectancy than that of our parents. Why? Because of what we eat and drink. In an effort to understand this more deeply, Cheney and Ellis get their hair tested in a lab. The result: they're made of corn (mostly). Thus begins the friends' journey to learn more about corn by growing bushels of it on a single acre in Greene, Iowa, and then tracing it as it travels the country, making its way into our food supply in the forms of cattle feed, high fructose corn syrup, and other things. There are harsh realities here: cows aren't meant to eat corn, of course, and humans are not meant to drink cheap sodas. The fact that we spend less than 20% of our incomes feeding ourselves (our grandparents spent twice that, according to the film) isn't all good news. The food that we're eating is higher in calories and lower in nutrients than ever before, and people are acquiring type 2 diabetes (among other things) at astonishing rates. There's so much to see and learn in King Corn: Michael Pollan (interviewed on camera), tells us that the corn in Iowa is mostly inedible. A driver in NY tells us that he lost hundreds of pounds by cutting corn syrup based soda out of his diet. Iowans who are growing the corn call it complete crap. What's more, the cost of growing corn far exceeds its "worth," unless you consider government subsidies.king-corn-guys The discussion will rage on: do we need to produce so much corn, to force feed cattle, to produce megatons of corn syrup, in order to feed the world? Or are we simply making it cheaper and easier for people to fill their bellies and bodies with more and more empty calories that cause heart disease and type 2 diabetes? What I especially like about the film is that Cheney and Ellis are learning with us, and they don't make fun of the ridiculous situations they're in, or the people they meet. The movie is extremely good natured - the Iowans are nice people, to a fault, and - other than the big bad corn syrup factories - everyone kindly let's these boys into their homes and businesses. But King Corn shows us a side of the US food economy that needs to be seen, and raises big questions that need to be discussed. This has been posted to Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday. fodrenegadefist_350