King Corn

In the documentary film, King Corn two guinea pig farmers head off to Iowa for a year to uncover the truth behind this highly subsidised crop.

by: food24 | 16 Oct 2007

In King Corn, Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, best friends from college, move to the heartland to learn where their food comes from.

With the help of friendly neighbours, genetically modified seeds, and powerful herbicides, they plant and grow a bumper crop of America's most-productive, most-subsidised grain on one acre of Iowa soil.

Ian and Curt start by injecting ammonia fertiliser into the soil. The chemical promises to increase yields fourfold, serving the mission of abundance laid out for them. With a rented tractor, they plant 31 000 seeds in the ground in 18 minutes. Their seed has been genetically modified for high yields and herbicide tolerance, and when the seedlings sprout, they apply a powerful spray to ensure that only their corn will thrive on their acre.

However, when they follow their corn into the food system, they uncover some troubling questions about how Americans eat and how they farm.

Their journey starts in Colorado, where corn-fed cows stand shoulder to shoulder in their own excrement waiting to become cheap hamburgers. They also travel to Brooklyn to examine how high fructose corn syrup in sodas contributes to the nation's high obesity and diabetes rates.

The film, directed by Aaron Woolf, takes the stand that America's most valuable crop is overproduced, and looks at the toll it takes on the environment, public health and family farms.

Almost everything Americans eat contains corn: high fructose corn syrup, corn-fed meat and corn-based processed foods are the staples of the modern diet.

Michael Pollan, the author of The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals told the New York Times: "If you take a McDonald's meal, you don't realise it when you eat it, but you're eating corn. Beef has been corn-fed. Soda is corn. Even the French fries – half the calories in the French fries come from the fat they're fried in, which is liable to be either corn oil or soy oil."

King Corn hope to highlight these issues just as the US Congress is set to debate the 2007 Farm Bill.

To find out more about the documentary go to

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