Review: King Corn- You Are What You Eat


Blame Earl Butz. That is how we started our post on Peak Corn, noting that Richard Nixon's Secretary of Agriculture told farmers to "get big or get out," and to plant crops like corn "from fence row to fence row." Almost forty years later, Director Aaron Woolf interviews an unrepentant Butz (just prior to his death), but unlike a Michael Moore or Morgan Spurlock, does it with grace, dignity and humor.

That's what separates King Corn (now out on DVD, previously covered by Jasmin for its theatrical opening) from so many other documentaries; It is warm, funny and treats its subjects with respect.

The story: after being inspired by Michael Pollan, who said famously " If you take a McDonald’s meal, you don’t realize it when you eat it, but you’re eating corn.", Curt Ellis and Ian Cheney drive to Iowa to plant an acre of corn. Not tasty eating corn, but the typical American industrial corn that doesn't taste like anything but makes great corn syrup. They don't exactly plant it either, but follow their friendly and cooperative neighbours as they use the equipment, fertilizers, seeds and pesticides that Iowa farmers use; the harvest at the end of the season takes exactly eighteen minutes.


They wanted to follow their corn from start to finish, much like Michael Pollan did with his cow; they were not able to do this as their corn just disappeared into the North American industrial food machine. However they were able to demonstrate how the system works (often with very cute Fisher-Price farm toys in stop-motion animation) how hard the farmers work, how the entire system is distorted by subsidies, and how it really isn't even food. Great fun and a lot of learning on ::King Corn

On King Corn

Opening Today in Theaters: King Corn
Where Corn is King
George Monbiot on the Pleasures of the Flesh

On Michael Pollan

Michael Pollan on What Sustainability is Really About
Book Review: The Omnivore's Dilemma
The Silence of the Yams
The Silence of the Yams
Michael Pollan : The Government Makes You Fat