King Corn

There is another documentary that is (somewhat) worth watching. King Corn, which is available for free on Netflix, details two men’s journey to plant one acre of corn.

Compared to other documentaries, it is slow and probably 20 minutes too long. I did, however, take notes during the movie and found out some pretty fascinating things…

  • a real change in agriculture took place in 1973 when this idiot Earl Butz, declared that in terms of food production, we needed a “change of culture… we want food… an 180 degree turn to expansion… and it makes sense.” Earl sounds more like an ass to me, but I have the wonderful benefit of eagle-like (hind)sight
  • prior to 1973, no one ate High Fructose Corn Syrup becasue it was so expensive (AHEM-COUGH-COUGH Earl friggin Butz) and by the end of the 1980’s HFCS had taken over 50% of the market
  • the government used to subsidize farms based on supply and demand so they could scale down/up as needed… Now we pay farmers to grossly overproduce corn
  • it takes only 18 minutes to plant an acre of corn (31,000 seeds)
  • the corn we grow is INDUSTRIALIZED… it has been bred to live in close proximity and must be treated before being actually edible
  • of one acre of corn, 1/2 is fed to animals, and 32% is devoted either to export or to science/ethanol… we eat the rest (~18%?)
  • I thought this demanded the caps/bold/italics-face type:  LIVESTOCK CONSUME 70% OF THE ANTIBIOTICS IN THE US
  • 100,000 cattle produce as much waste as a city of 1.7 million people

One of the most intresting ines in the documenary came when a farmer was describing how terrible his corn was. The corn that we all see (if you ever drive, or most likely fly) in the middle of the country is not really edible. The farmer, when being interviewed says something along the lines of:

the irony of mass produced agriculture and in this case commodity corn, is that a family farmer can no longer feed himself off his own produce. Another farmer when asked how his corn tasted said simply, “it’s crap.”

Here is a chart which details just how ridiculous our corn production is. Now, I am terrible with math but it looks like we went from producing just over 255,000 THOUSAND METRIC TONS of corn in 03/04. The following year, we produced nearly 300,000 THOUSAND METRIC TONS in 04/05.

1 metric ton=1000 kg=2,200 lbs (trust me, I had to look up a metric ton). By my 10th grade math level calculations, that means in a one year span, the US produced approximately (pause for math)

45,000 metric tons x 1000 metric tons= 45,000,000 metric tons which in pounds, is approximately 99,000,000,000 lbs more in just one YEAR!

Should this be the goal of our food production in America? Do we really want to literally become a corn husk and just turn our whole food supply into a big factory? It seems as though we already have but based on all of the science behind the environment, soils, animal health, and human health, it seems like there may some healthy opposition in the years ahead.

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