King Corn although rather long, it is worth every second. It starts with two young men having their `hair' tests showing they have a high level of `corn' in their system. When they both decide to find out why, even though they don't `eat' corn directly, this corn is in their system leads them on an adventure to find out why. They start by planting their own crop of corn and then try to track `where the corn they planted' lands up. At first I was getting tired of the film but BE PATIENT because in the middle of the film, things start to become VERY clear. Corn has taken over the STATES and replaced grass land and wheat crops. Cattle and pigs are forced to eat `corn' to put on weight even though it creates serious health problems for them. When you see what this `cheap' corn has done to our food and how it has crept into everything we eat, the film clearly shows how `disillusioned' these young men become. Big business and government subsidies has made corn a major industry where cheap and high return trumps `health'. You see the results of their discovery on their faces- a must watch!
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Basic presentation is the purchase of an acre of land in Greene, Iowa for the production of corn and to watch were the corn goes.
We see how corn has been genetic lay altered for better or worse. There are two sides to genetic and we only see one. Our presenters spit their Cornell thing you taste like chalk. But I can go down to the local store and pioneer of corn peel back the leaves, removed some of the silk, and munch away. In fact I use it many times just as a meal.
We learn how to make corn syrup in the kitchen sink. We find this corn syrup in the soda we drink. However the argument that they bring up against corn syrup can easily be turned in to an argument against sugar. Speaking of sugar with a little bit of research you can find versions of Coca-Cola and Dr Pepper made with real sugar. And it will easily pass the blind taste test. Coca-Cola knowing that people could tell the difference pulled the real thing off the market replacing it with New Coke and when all the sugar drinks for off the market replace them with corn syrup with the misnomer of Classic Coke. If you switch to Izze esque you just get 50 calories of fruit juice.
There is a small reference to ethanol which is being used as an excuse to raise the price of corn in food. We all know that we can get cheaper sugar from other countries and make cheaper ethanol and lower the price of corn to make cheaper foods.
There are some vulgar scenes of reaching into cow stomachs that you may want to fast forward through. However in the process they make you understand that too much corn is not that good for cows and cows full of corn are not good for people. And again they forget to tell you with a little research you can find grass fed meat.Read more ›
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This film appeared before Food, Inc. but didn't get as much attention for some reason. But through its focus on corn (heavily subsidized in the US), and the health fallout from its domination of the food industry, it tells pretty much the same story of corporate greed and its consequences. You should see at least one of these films if you want a little insight into where your food comes from. Both films have excellent extra features on the DVD, too. King Corn is a bit lighter and perhaps doesn't give as much information about "what you can do" as Food Inc. But it also covers its chosen topic (corn, and its main uses as beef cattle feed and source of high fructose corn syrup) in more depth than the other film, so the ideal would be to see both. If enough people see either film, perhaps the epidemic of obesity and diabetes can be reversed, and family farms will start to recover from their near-extinction by factory farms. This could also help to turn climate change around.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
143 of 145 people found the following review helpful
Iowa Corn Farm Owner Agrees and Adds a ThoughtMay 21 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
King Corn tells the truth. No one in my area wants to rent a farm with farm buildings. Farm management experts at [...] advise tearing down most, if not all, buildings. At one time there were neighboring 'ghost farmsteads' with trees, orchards, but no mailboxes. Most of those remnants are now gone.
I've burned down all my wooden buildings, except for the 'century house'. I'm 75. When I'm gone someone else can raze that.
The impoverishment and de-humanizing of Iowa is deliberate government policy, the opposite of some European countries. Our present system does work well for huge agricultural supply and commodity conglomerates.
High tarrifs on imported cane sugar exacerbate the problem. The goal is to keep Americans eating inferior corn sugar products at protected prices.
It takes a lifetime of on-farm experience to successfully operate a viable 'sustainable agriculture' farm. Such expertise is dying or dead. Iowans raise 'export kids' to find careers in other states.
The DVD 'King Corn' tells the true story on many levels. The rationale for providing much food at low cost is deeply flawed and unsustainable, but highly appealing to the 'sound bite' crowd. Food that is truly 'good for you' may cost twice as much in stores and four times as much in restaurants. Are you ready, willing and able to pay for good quality rather than poor quantity?
183 of 189 people found the following review helpful
Funny, gross, and scary at the same timeJune 14 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
King Corn is kind of like Super Size Me's little brother. It traces the pervasive influence of corn on modern America, including the obesity epidemic and the fact that Iowa is growing trillions of bushels of *non-edible* corn to continue receiving lucrative government subsidies. College buddies Ian and Curt, both from the east coast, discover that they both had distant relatives from the same small town of Greene, Iowa. Ian and Curt decide to go to Iowa and plant one acre of corn, following it through its lifecycle, including where it goes after the harvest.
The film starts off slowly as the reasons for the trip are explained. The prerequisite talking heads introduce some scary factoids about how Americans are literally made of corn; if you do a hair analysis, it's like a diet diary, and the vast majority of the American diet (corn-fed beef, fast foods and processed foods) contains corn derivatives. Much of the corn we ingest is in the guise of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a cheaper alternative to sugar that is produced via a scary chemical conversion involving several toxic acids. HFCS has been directly linked to the current obesity crisis and its impact on Type II Diabetes (the body processes HFCS differently from table sugar). Prior to the 1970s, hardly any company used HFCS due to its high cost. But after then-Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz did away with the old New Deal market control policies in favor of rapid expansion in 1973, there was a constant surplus of cheap (and non-edible) corn, fueling the rapid expansion of the corn syrup industry. Here's a quick test: walk into any convenience store and count how many items contain corn, specifically corn syrup. The list includes obvious choices like soda and candy, but you'll also find HFCS in deli meats, breads, ketchup, pickle relish, spaghetti sauce, and cough syrup. Oh yes, and one main variety of corn grown in Iowa (Liberty) is genetically modified, as is at least one ingredient in HFCS manufacturing.
Corn production geared towards ethanol is briefly mentioned, but the majority of the focus in King Corn is on the impact of non-edible corn on the nation's food supply. In this respect, it's kind of a gentler version of Supersize Me; there's no shock value for the most part. Also mentioned is the disastrous consequence of converting cattle from grazing animals to force-fed confined ones. Cattle normally forage for a plant-based diet, but it is far more profitable to bring them up to market weight by forcing them to stand still and eat continuously. In addition, the acids present in corn cause deadly ulcers for the cows, who are slaughtered before developing acidosis. The end result is that 70% of the antibiotics in the US are used on livestock (antibiotics combat both the acidosis and the infections resulting from confinement). Literally everything at McDonald's contains corn: your hamburger is corn-fed, the bun contains HFCS, your soda contains HFCS, the French fries are fried in corn (or soybean) oil, and your ketchup and pickle contains HFCS. Ditto for most vending machine foods, frozen dinners, and anything you don't make from scratch. It's extremely difficult to escape buying foods containing corn, since a variety of pseudonyms are used, including baking powder, caramel color, dextrose, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, stearic acid, and vanilla, making it a nightmare for anyone with corn allergies.
Perhaps the most effective element is that of nostalgia. Ian and Curt also take time to find their long-lost relatives in Greene, and to reflect on the rapid changes in our recently agrarian society that have forced farmers to maintain massive farms harvesting non-edible corn. In other words, the farmer can't even feed himself with what he's growing. Without the hefty government subsidies, such large-scale corn operations would be out of business. They interview various farmers and ranchers who are disgusted with the system, but who have little real choice (one farmer says flatly, "We're growing crap!"). We're shown the evolution of farming equipment and of the family farm itself as a quaint reminder of the past; there are nostalgic shots of Main Street and hometown parades, quiet diners and local bars.
Ian and Curt's visual style is playful; the charts and graphs are hand-drawn, interspersed with stop-motion plastic farm toys to get the point across (and the dancing corn on the map of the US was great, too). The quirky soundtrack is a standout as well. DVD extras include some outtakes, a music video, bios, and some great 1950s-style educational clips. King Corn is a thought-provoking look at the old adage "You are what you eat," and boy, it's scary.
48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
King Corn: learning about the industrial food chainFeb. 10 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
Whether you are well versed in the ways of the industrial food chain or just beginning to learn about it, King Corn is an entertaining film that delivers a lot of information. 2 friends plant an acre of corn, giving the viewer insight on the entire process. There are many other subjects touched upon, including the far reaching impacts of conventional agriculture, the disappearance of family farms, the economic impact of corn on small town America. This film would be a great starting point for people just learning about the current state of the food system, or the film the well versed person might lend to their less than knowledgeable friends. Much of the truth in The Omnivore's Dilemma delivered by 2 nice guys, Fischer Price stop-motion animation included.
43 of 48 people found the following review helpful
This documentary film is a sort of prequel to Fast Food Nation, and does for film what Michael Pollan has done in his two books, The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food. Best friends Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis relocate from the east coast to Greene, Iowa (population 1,015) to grow an acre of corn and then follow its fortunes after harvest. Planting an acre of 31,000 genetically modified kernels takes eighteen minutes. Fertilizers, sprays, water and time will yield about 200 bushels or 10,000 pounds of corn. That's why there are literal mountains of corn in Iowa. But none of it is edible, and was ever intended to be, until it is artificially processed. Over half of the crop goes to feed cattle, another third goes for ethanol and exports, and then a significant minority of it goes to make high fructose corn syrup and similar sweeteners that you'll find on virtually every label of processed food. In short, this is corn that is not really food. Cheney and Ellis netted a loss of $19.92 on their acre of corn, but that's before massive government subsidies put them in the black. Not even the farmers in this film were happy about agribusiness as usual, but that's the story of corn to date.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Growing awareness of food vs. agribusiness.June 29 2008
Preston C. Enright
- Published on Amazon.com
This interesting film illustrates what happens when food becomes more of a vehicle for making money than for feeding people. Most of the corn we grow in our 'breadbasket' is inedible for humans, and is used as feedgrain for cows (I wonder how much the cows like it as well). In addition to documenting their farming experiment, the filmmakers visited a massive cattle feedlot in Colorado. It brought to mind another movie that explores our meat industry Fast Food Nation. As the meat industry, like the cigarette industry, increases their global marketing, ever increasing amounts of grain are being used to feed cattle; along with creating fuels. Amazingly, some crops are being genetically modified to produce pharmaceuticals Transgenic Plants: A Production System for Industrial and Pharmaceutical Proteins. With growing food crises around the world, one wonders when we'll reach a tipping point and decide to create a food system that serves people instead of serving the interests of executives at Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland Rats in the Grain: The Dirty Tricks and Trials of Archer Daniels Midland, the Supermarket to the World. Thinkers like Frances Moore Lappe have long argued that the real issue behind a lack of food security is not a lack of food, but rather a lack of democracy World Hunger: Twelve Myths. We need to dethrone 'Kings' of corn and many other commodities and put decision making power into the hands of civil society, as Vandana Shiva has advocated for so eloquently Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace. See some of Shiva's presentations on YouTube, she's a modern-day Gandhi.
A couple other resources to help us create a sustainable, organic, biodiverse, and localized food system: Good Growing: Why Organic Farming Works (Our Sustainable Future) Micro Eco-Farming: Prospering from Backyard to Small Acreage in Partnership with the Earth Slow Food Nation: Why Our Food Should Be Good, Clean, And Fair Mother Earth News How to Save the World