I finally got around to renting the movie “King Corn“. I guess I had not seen it yet because I figured I knew a lot about this issue already and like most of us, there are so many things competing for my time. Whoops! I now know what I was missing. This documentary is a must see for many reasons other that the main premise of the movie, that the epidemic of obesity is a direct result of our addiction to everything corn.
There are many classic scenes in this film, starting with the Iowa farmer reading the letter from Curt and Ian, (above), asking him if they could borrow an acre of his farm to grow some corn. This same farmer, at the end of the film, is facing another unexpected dilemma, but like many of the people in the movie, handles himself with perfect Midwestern aplomb. As is so often the case, especially when it comes to individuals, reality is way more interesting than actors. So watch this film not only for the true story of corn, but for a good dose of entertainment also.
Even though many of us know a lot of the facts portrayed in the film, it is still interesting to see them laid out so plainly and in perfect sequence. A few things that some might not know… Recent years have had record harvests of corn from U.S. farmland and only a small percentage goes to fuel rather than food. This year, the flooding has delayed the corn planting and may contribute to a decreased harvest. After watching this movie, I think I have changed my thinking to believe we should use more for fuel and less for food. However, I think the Gulf of Mexico “dead zone” would benefit from an overall reduction in acres planted in corn, no matter what the corn is used for.
Corn is the number one reason the U.S. has historically had such low food prices. The current yield per acre has been pushed to 10,000 pounds, an almost unbelievable amount when you see it in a pile. Almost all of the corn grown today can not be eaten by humans until it has been processed and put into processed foods.
The main variety of corn planted today (Liberty), bears almost no resemblance to the traditional corn we have grown to eat. Liberty Link hybrid corn is genetically modified to be immune to glufosinate-ammonium, (the active ingredient in the product aptly named Liberty Herbicide). I had heard of “Roundup Ready” corn, but not Liberty. What a name, marketing at its best, I guess. There is also Liberty Link Canola seed and Liberty Link Cotton. Weed control is made easy with these varieties as you can douse the growing plants with the herbicide and not have to worry about slowing the growth of the crop.
Corn is in almost every processed food. High Fructose Corn Syrup is the least expensive sweetener available and used in almost every manufactured food product that uses a sweetener. As one of the scientists in the film says, “HFCS has basically no nutritional value, only adverse metabolic effects and empty calories”. A cab driver interviewed who used to weigh well over 300 pounds, claims to have lost over 1/3 of his body weight just by stopping his consumption of HFCS containing soda.
All in all this is a very educational film, but with the two kids whose idea it all was, and the other interesting characters throughout the movie, it is a very entertaining 90 minutes indeed. Even the soundtrack is great and the DVD has some great special features that are not to be missed.