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King Corn – The Documentary Film

Two city boys move to Iowa to learn about corn. Ok, it’s actually more interesting than that. Considering how much corn we Americans consume, you’d think we’d know a heck of a lot about it. But if you’re like me, you know it’s yellow and magically turns into popcorn… and that’s about it.

The two filmmakers of the Peabody Award winning documentary film King Corn, retrace their roots back to Greene Iowa, where they intend to plant and grow an acre of corn just like their forefathers did. The trouble is, they have no idea what they’re doing.

With the help of local farmers (and a decent government subsidy), the filmmakers grow and trace the route their corn takes. For those already familiar with basic Paleo principals; that route doesn’t end well. Corn finds it’s way into nearly every processed food you can think of: largely in the form of high-fructose corn syrup.

For those already familiar with basic Paleo principals; that route doesn’t end well. Corn finds it’s way into nearly every processed food you can think of: largely in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, and unhealthy corn-fed beef.

Michael Pollan shows up in the film with a good visual aid. Think about a McDonald’s meal:

  • The burger is made from a cow fattened on corn (which cows aren’t supposed to be eating).
  • The soda is high-fructose corn syrup with a little bit of water for taste.
  • The fries are fried in some kind of corn oil.
  • And the bun is a lovely mountain of gluten (but that’s another story).

There you have it. No matter what part of the country you’re in, you’re eating a high percentage of Iowan food: corn.

I hope I don’t have to tell you that whopping amounts of industrialized, over-processed corn are literally destroying people’s health faster than I can write this post (read Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivores Dilemma for more on the damages of corn).

While a little slow at times, I can’t think of another film that gives such a close-up look at the modern industrial corn industry. These guys aren’t activists in any way, they just wanted to find out a little about corn, and they found out far more than they bargained for.

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