KING CORN / DOCUMENTARY
King Corn is a documentary film released in October 2007 that follows college friends Ian Cheney and Curtis Ellis (directed by Aaron Woolf) as they move from Boston to Greene, Iowa to grow and farm an acre of corn. Coincidentally, the trip also takes them back to where both of their families have roots. In the process, Cheney and Ellis examine the trend of increased corn production and its effects on American society, highlighting the role of government subsidies in encouraging the huge amount of corn grown. Furthermore, by studying the food economy through the history of corn in America, the two realize most foods contain corn in some form.
The film shows how industrialization in corn has all but eliminated the image of the family farm, which is being replaced by larger industrial farms. Cheney and Ellis suggest that this trend reflects a larger industrialization of the North American food system. As outlined in the film, decisions relating to which crops are grown and how they are grown are based on government manipulated economic considerations rather than their true economic, environmental, or social ramifications. This trend is demonstrated in the film by the production of high fructose corn syrup, an ingredient found in many cheap food products, including fast food. A study conducted at Princeton University found that the same amount of high fructose corn syrup consumed caused more of a weight gain in rats than regular table sugar. They identify that there is a correlation between the increasing obesity rate and the increasing production of corn syrup. With the new advancement and demand for corn, the traditional farming industry is being replaced by larger corporate farms. By creating the film, the two college friends hope to increase awareness about the consequences of excessive corn production.
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