Sunday, February 22, 2009

We are made of... Corn

Have you ever wondered why food makes you feel a certain way? Like, sometimes we feel great after a meal and yet at other times, sluggish. The rising dual epidemics of obesity and diabetes type 2 coincides with the some rather nasty Unites States food policy made back in 1973, to radically up food production, industrialising modern farming practice.[1]

King Corn (2007), is an ‘arresting’ film, ‘balancing humour and insight’ into the food we eat, where it comes from, why it’s produced, and the fact that we’re essentially reliant on corn in 21st Century.[2]

It’s a feature documentary about two friends, one acre of corn, and the subsidised crop that drives the fast-food nation which is the United States.[3] Essentially, the nuts and bolts of it; Americans are made of corn--it is now coded in their DNA.

The unfortunate fact is this Iowa corn that yields up to 200 bushels to the acre is a very poor quality of genetically-modified hybrid corn; the product makes up about 65 percent of average American’s diet via high fructose corn syrup, corn-fed meat, and corn-based processed foods. What Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis learn is the ‘staple’ of the modern diet isn’t edible unless it’s highly processed. You’d probably be sickened to see the processing that takes place.

The reason US domestic policy changed to increase corn yields was to make food cheap, so the average American could afford to ‘buy other stuff.’

Isn’t it ironic, there is allegedly a massive oversupply of corn-based raw food product in the United States, yet we have rampant starvation across the Globe?

We do truly become physically what we eat; we must learn to consider this as we stuff our mouths with tasty but increasingly terrible matter.

A quote from the movie’s director, Aaron Woolf, is a good place to conclude:

“Yes, food is cheaper now, but we are only beginning to understand the full cost that cheapness demands from our environment, our health, and our social fabric.”

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

For further reading on corn, consult Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, the Farm Subsidies Database at, or
[1] The ‘rather nasty’ food policy was well intentioned. 1970s America did struggle with widespread hunger. “But bad outcomes can come from well-intentioned actions.” –Aaron Woolf (King Corn director).
[2] The quotes are taken from where critical acclaim for the feature is provided at the bottom of the page.
[3] Source: particularly the “For the Press” section. An interesting quote comes from Michael Pollan regarding America’s McDonald’s: “If you take a McDonald’s meal, you don’t realize 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. So when you’re at McDonald’s, you’re eating Iowa food. Everything on your plate is corn.” -Michael Pollan, UC Berkeley, in King Corn.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

Watch out for genetically modified foods coming to Western Australia soon thanks to Mr Barnett.