King Corn

For school, one of our assignments for Oriental Nutrition was to watch a food-related movie and I choose to “King Corn.”  I had write a paper for it to give my thoughts, so I also wanted to post some facts about it on here.  If you get a chance, go to Hulu and watch it!  It’s very eye-opening.

Two young boys set off to Iowa in search of how to grow corn.  In the process of growing corn, they are faced with the ugly truth about the nature of the food Americans are consuming on a daily basis.  Of the millions of acres of corn in Iowa, most of it is commodity corn, which is inedible and must be processed in a plant before it is ready to be consumed.  In the process of growing corn, the two boys have to buy anhydrous ammonium as a fertilizer for their crop.  In the middle of the season, they are again forced to buy another poison to kill the weeds that are growing in the field.  The corn must first be genetically-modified so it is not killed when the Liberty chemicals are sprayed onto the field.  If it’s not, the corn will also die.  If other nearby fields are not genetically modified, their crops will die because the chemicals are meant to kill all living plants.  This is still in our food when it is processed.

The farmers never know the fate of their actual crops.  An average acre of corn produces 10,000 lbs.  Of that 32% is used for ethanol or is exported, 490 lbs. is used for sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup, and over half of it (5,500 lbs.) is used in cattle feed.  The corn that is used in the cattle feed is a by-product of ethanol.  In previous generations, the cows spent most of their lives being able to graze, but they are currently in confinement. This allows them to move less so they gain weight quicker. Cattle are also given high doses of antibiotics to combat both the conditions of confinement and the acidosis due to their grain-based diet.  A t-bone steak from a grain fed cow would have 9 grams of unsaturated fat, while a grass-fed cow would only have 1.5 grams of unsaturated fat.  A typical hamburger is 65% fat.

The corn grown in Iowa can also be used for sugar products.  High fructose corn syrup is processed for two days and included sulfuric acid and several other chemicals.  High fructose corn syrup is one of the primary sweeteners used in America.  In Brooklyn, NY, 198,000,000 lbs. of soda is consumed each year.  Just consuming one can doubles the risk of type II diabetes.Each day when the typical American eats, they are primarily consuming corn products.  For example, in a meal from McDonald’s, the hamburger is derived from corn fed cattle, the bun and soda contains high fructose corn syrup, and the fries are probably deep fat fried in either corn or soy oil, both of which have corn products in them.  The farmers interviewed in the movie also said that they would never eat their own products.

Today, the average American spends 16-17% of their take home pay to feed themselves.  This is the lowest percentage in history and we also need fewer of us to produce the food.  In our great-grandparents generation, they spent twice as much.  This is a day and age when abundance brings too much.

This was a very eye-opening documentary.  These types of movies all are.  Each time I watch them, I feel extreme frustration towards the nutritional crisis situation in America.  There is such a gap between the financial aspects of high-powered food producers and what’s the best thing for Americans health.  Clearly, we have not found the correct answer.  The rate of disease and obesity is now higher than ever and it keeps increasing.  The amount of additives and chemicals in our foods are poison, wrecking both physical havoc in the body as well as mental addictions to high fat and sugar products.  

I wish that organic foods were the norm instead, even though they are significantly more expensive.  I think we really need to get back to basics with the ethics of food producers before it’s really too late.  I also think that people need to stop and think about what is actually going into their systems before they start eating.

Sorry for the long post, but it’s educational!  Regular posts tomorrow–I PROMISE:)

6 Responses to King Corn

  1. Oh I really want to watch this! As a grand-daughter of a corn (and soybeans) farmer, I get put in a hard position sometimes. In the past, and even this weekend to some extent, I have discussed some of these issues with my grandfather, but at the same time I can’t “bite the hand that feeds me” (not really me, but my grandparents!).

    It is very interesting to me, and it really brings up pretty big ethical/moral questions. And when those fertilizers give your grandmother terminal cancer(s) and give your grandfather cancer – it becomes a little more complicated!

    Thanks for sharing!!

  2. Yeah Emily, I totally agree! It is a really hard issue. Since I grew up in NE, I totally get it. I know tons of families that this would affect. In the movie, it talks about how all the little farmers are being pushed out because they can’t compete with the bigger ones, so it would be nice if the little farmers could continue growing organic food and the mass produced, cheaper food wasn’t available, but that’s a whole other can of worms.

    • Hi Kendall, thanks for checking my blog out! I am going to school for my masters in oriental medicine and I love nutrition! If you have any questions, please let me know! If you need a book recommendation, check out “Healing with Whole Foods” by Paul Pitchford. There is an Asian influence to it, but there is also quite a bit of modern principles as well. It’s a very interesting book! Where are you going to school??

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