Corn subsidies arrived in the United States in the early 70s as a gift from taxpayers to farmers in a time of national food shortage. Bureaucrats dreamed of cheap food for all Americans, so farmers grew corn. And grew and grew. Today, as the makers of documentary film, King Corn, discovered, corn has become the country’s most productive, most versatile crop, used in all parts of the food chain from beef cattle fodder to soda sweetener. The American dream of cheap food is realized … but at an insidious cost.
While the incidence of obesity and Type II diabetes grows in the American population and the Farm Bill allocates billions of dollars in subsidies to farmers to continue to glut the market with “cheap” corn, film subjects Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis set out to find how corn ended up sprouting from their hair follicles. They lease an acre of land in Iowa, and grow corn with the intention of following its journey into the American food system. Along the way, they discover things about the corn industry the average soda-guzzling American might not know. They find that beef cattle fed on corn develop stomach ulcers that would kill them if it weren’t for the antibiotics administered in their food; they meet corn advocates whose motivation is to perpetuate an industry that provides cheap food to Americans, regardless of diet quality or environmental impact; and they discover that the corn industry does not compute – American farmers don’t make their money from growing corn, they make it from government subsidies that mask the real cost of the corn industry. Shot in an understated investigative fashion, leaving judgment at the discretion of the viewer, the makers of King Corn simply tell it as they see it. The subjects of the documentary film let us tag along as they seek answers to their innocent questions about the nature of their food. King Corn is currently showing in cinemas in the United States, and will be aired on PBS in 2008.
Conversation with King Corn Filmmaker Curt, Part I
Conversation with King Corn Filmmaker Curt, Part II
Conversation with King Corn Filmmaker Curt, Part III
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