King Corn

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Corn  You Are What
You Eat

A Summary of the Documentary by
Lauren Ruck

corn alcohol, corn gluten, corn extract, corn flour, corn oil, corn
oil margarine, cornstarch, corn sweetener, corn sugar, corn syrup, corn
syrup solids, popcorn, cornmeal,
cornstarch. King Corn is a documentary that follows
two young men from the cornfields of Iowa to the local grocery stores
you and I shop at. Their efforts strive to show, you are what you eat.
What is it exactly that you eat, that we eat, corn, lots and lots of

two young men, Ian and Curt begin their journey with a sobering fact.
We all will someday die, but maybe sooner than we thought. We are the
first generation in American history that has a shorter life expectancy
than our parents, and it is because of the food we eat. 

the University of Virginia Ian and Curt visit Professor Steve Macko.
Steve specializes in hair analysis. He states that hair is like a tape
recorder of everything we put into our bodies. Steve takes samples of
Ian and Curt's hair and analyzes it. He says that he can tell from their
hair that the carbon in their bodies originates from corn. Corn these
days is nearly unavoidable. Every food that has been sweetened is likely
to have been sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. The meat we eat
is mainly corn feed, which is turned into the cow's
biomass and then
consumed by us. That cookie, made with cornstarch. You get the picture.

Ian and Curt set out to do a little research for themselves. They moved
from their homes in Boston, to Iowa. They rented one acre of farmland
and started the process of farming corn. They applied for their permits,
bought their supplies, and with the help of the local farmers, planted
one acre of corn.

corn has changed drastically over the past 20-30 years with one goal
in mind, yield. With the advancement of technology, we not only have
hi tech equipment to aid in the process, we also have genetically modified
corn. These modifications allow each plant to tolerate being planted
very close to one another allowing more plants in a smaller space.

Ian and Curt's acre they were able to plant 31 thousand corn seeds.
With the help of some heavy machinery they process look all of 18 minutes.
On average a one-acre plot of corn will yield 5 tons of food, none of
which is eatable. The corn must first be processed. Ironically, the
Iowa corn farmer can no longer feed himself.

Ian and Curt waited for their corn to grow they decided to explore all
the different place corn ends up. They started with, cows. Currently
cows that are bread for market are fed a diet of 60% corn. As it turns
out corn actually kills cows, as they are intended to eat grass. However,
corn also makes cows fat, fast. Grass fed cows take several years to
reach market weight. Corn fed cows typically reach market weight in
120-140 days. The problem is that after about 60-90 days on a corn fed
diet the cows develop stomach ulcer and acidosis. If not treated they
will die, the treatment, antibiotics. Currently livestock consume 70%
of the antibiotics in the United States.

and Curt also followed corn into the grocery stores. Corn is found in
almost every product on the grocery store shelf, mainly in the form
of high fructose corn syrup. Prior to 1970 no one ate high fructose
corn syrup because it was too expensive to make. Now it is by far the
dominant from of sugar in food. High fructose corn syrup has no nutritional
causes adverse metabolic affects, and is merely empty calories.  

increased exposure to corn and corn products has caused an explosion
of obesity and disease, namely diabetes. Today 1 in 8 New Yorkers have
diabetes. These numbers are a direct result of our nutrition.

of the problem is that the government rewards the over production of
cheap corn with subsidies. In fact if corn farmers merely grew and sold
corn they would lose money hand over fist. The only profit in farming
corn comes in government subsidies. We are also part of the problem.
We like cheap food, we demand it, and they supply it. On average in
this country we spend about 12-15 percent of our income on food. In
generations past up to 50% of a family's income was spent on food. We
spend less of our income on food than any other generation in history.


am left reminded of one of my favorite John Mayer songs titled Gravity.
He reminds us that maybe, "twice as much aint twice as good and
cant sustain like one half could, it's wanting
more that's gonna send
me to my knees." It this case wanting more might send up to our

For more information click the title above and for the actual documentary video, click here.KingCorn


  1. thanks lauren!!!

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