King Corn is a 2007 documentary film release directed by Aaron Woolf. The film follows two college friends Curtis Ellis and Ian Cheney (co-producers of the film) as they journey from Boston to Green Iowa in their mission to grow an acre of corn. The film explores health woes in America through the multifarious lens of corn, one of America’s humble grains, and how it affects the American society.
In the film, Woolf and his co-producers, Ellis and Cheney provide irrefutable proof that America is virtually drowning in corn. Corn starch, corn meal, hydrologized corn protein as well as high fructose corn syrup are ingredients used to fuel many cheap food products especially fast foods.
The film demonstrates that decision on what types of crops should be grown and how they should be grown in America are made on the basis of economic consideration disregarding social and environmental consequences.
After shockingly discovering (through a lab hair analysis) that corn forms the major part of their bodily composition, Chaney and Ellis decide to trace how their bodies ended up being made of corn. Woolf captures the 11- moth efforts of Ellis and Cheney, who trace their ancestry to the small town of Iowa to grow corn.
After meeting Chuck Pyatt, a farmer who willingly lends them an acre of land, the two meet historians, agronomists as well other experts for advice before the planting season (King Corn). With the help of other real farmers, government aid, and loadsof fertilizers, the two plant a whole acre of genetically modified corn seeds.
Prior to the harvesting season, Ellis and Cheney make a journey to trace where their corn goes to after leaving the grain elevator. To their amazement, they discover that their corn is destined for one of the two major American Industries.
That is corn syrup or animal feed. They travel to Colorado and compare the grass fed cattle to con-fed counterparts. They also travel to New York and explore the links that exist between corn syrup, diabetes and obesity.
In response to the insights presented above it is clear that corn is a major contributor to obesity which is one of America’s major pandemic. As the demonstrated in the film documentary, corn is a key ingredient that quietly fuels almost every food product in the American society especially fast foods.
Almost all of these fast foods are rich in high fructose corn syrup that accounts for approximately 40% of caloric sweeteners used by industries in the United States (Liu p.1). According to a research by the Princeton University research team high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is highly responsible for the increase in the rate of obesity-especially child obesity.
Kids in America are growing in an environment full of products made of HFCS. This increases the chance of having obese children who will also drag this obesity to their adult hood. According to this release, Americans utilize 60 pounds of sweeteners annually which puts many people at the risk of obesity.
The study indicated that high and long-term consumption of HFCS leads to abnormally increased adipose body fat especially in the abdomen as well as increase in triglycerides (circulating blood fats) which are a sign of metabolic syndrome (Center for Consumer Freedom 106).
In conclusion, the film presents a behind-the-scenes picture of how Americans ignorantly put their health and lives at risk every day. The documentary prompts the audience to pay closer attention to the danger that lies in their everyday meals which are rich in corn syrup, a major contributor to obesity in America.
King Corn is a creative and effective way of driving the health awareness message home. The producers have been able to express scientific facts and studies that would otherwise be boring to viewers in a way that is both informative and entertaining. The importance of corn, which forms part of every American’s meal, is clearly and effectively highlighted.
The health implications of obesity have also been expressed clearly and the call to action is clear. The film urges Americans to consider what they eat. It also encourages them to read the fine print of food labels, insisting that the lives of their own families may be at stake. The film drives home the point that, one of America’s greatest dangers, may just lie in your next bite.
Centre for Consumer Freedom. An epidemic of obesity myths. Washington D. C: Center for Consumer Freedom, 2005.
Liu, David. High fructose corn syrup the cause of obesity epidemic, new study suggests. Web.
Woolf, Aaron (Dir). King Corn. Amherst : Balcony Releasing, October 12, 2007.