mmmm... corny

I already knew that high fructose corn syrup is a) in everything and b) not exactly good for you, but here are nine new things I learned from the documentary King Corn:

1. Over 70% of the corn grown in this country goes to feed livestock on large feedlots.

2. None of our livestock evolved while eating corn, so it does a number on their digestive tracks, and can eventually kill them! Good thing we get to it first.

3. There is corn in our hair! (They were sketchy on the details. I like the idea, but it's odd how they just showed a shaky camera view of a "Scientist", in his "lab", taking a "sample" and then a machine that looked like a seismograph spit out a "report", which he looked at and shook his head. Proof!)

4. This film provided further evidence that Petitie Sophisticate provides the wardrobe for all Public Relations reps. from [insert name of corporation being outed in documentary of your choice here].

5. The average yield of an acre of corn has risen from around 40 bushels during our grandparents' generation to around 180 bushels today. This is due not to greater yield from an individual plant, but to the fact that the plants are bred to survive crowding, thus can be planted at greater density.

6. I knew vaguely, generally, about how farmers get paid by the government just to plant corn, but now I know a bit more detail... but not much, because it seems that the producers were also a bit confused about the whole process. But the long and short of it was that the system is set up in such a way that it only makes sense to have huge conglomeration farms. The money is in saying that you're farming the land, not in what you get from the crop.

7. It takes sulfric acid to make high-fructose corn syrup! (I think I maybe learned this once long ago, but watching someone add battery acid to a pot of corn really drives home the point)

8. "High fructose corn syrup enhances the flavors of fruit or spice in sodas." --Petite Sophisticated P.R. Woman

9. Michael Pollan has a comb-over. I love him anyway.

I thought that this was a nice, well produced documentary, that was not at all as preachy as it could have been. I liked the low-budget my-buddy-the-cameraman look to it, although some shots belie that they had more funding than they are letting on.

Something I think they could have dealt with, in place of stop-animation of Fisher-Price farmers planting corn: Pollution! Run-off! The crazy amounts of nitrogen that are being dumped onto corn fields and what that means for the health of anything living downhill/downstream/ anywhere in the near vicinity.
I mean, even our own St. Louis Post Dispatch did a story on run-off from corn fields.

Some additional reads on where our food comes from:

Ruth Ozeki's My Year of Meat
Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation
Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma or In Defense of Food

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