Saturday, June 14, 2008

King Corn

So last night we watched King Corn. (Which you would already know if you looked at my FlickView found amongst my Fun Stuff. I recommend it. Don't expect Hollywood movie production values. This is a documentary. Wait, wait, come back. I know, I cannot promise any chase scenes or explosions or even full frontal nudity. I am really sorry about that. But on the plus side, there will be no ridiculous romance that could never happen or beautiful scenes of Africa that were substituted for plot.

The gist of this movie is that they analyze the food they are eating and find that it is primarily made up of almost 100% corn. All of it. It is amazing to see the farmers blatantly saying the only reason they plant it is because of the subsidy. (And they show that the crop is grown at a total loss and the only profit is from the subsidy.)

They also show where the corn goes, which is primarily into the feed industry -- where the government subsidizes substandard beef. (Cattle ranchers are horrified by it, but that is how they make their money so they accept it.) The corn diet will kill the cow in about 4 months, so they slaughter it right before that happens. The result is a fatty substandard hunk of meat and effectively a subsidy of the fast food industry.

It also goes to corn sweetener. Odd how the whole corn sweetener industry popped up right about the same time the USA became so overweight, diabetic and hypertensive. All pretty much done to us by our own government. And I am pretty sure they will solve the problem by providing us universal health care instead of just fixing the original problem.

The farmers grin and say "I wouldnt eat that stuff". They have thousands of acres of corn and yet do not grow anything they can actually eat. Nice.

It, of course, also goes to ethanol (which they mention), but this was made ever so slightly before the current boom in ethanol production.

For me the kicker is talking to Earl Butz (father of the current subsidy system). He marvels how they used to pay farmers to NOT grow things (thus making sure all farming was done at a loss) and decided that was wrong. Instead they should be paid to overproduce (thus making sure all farming was done at a loss). There -- problem solved.


Og Make Blog said...

Actually only part of the obesity puzzle... saw a panel some years ago discussing the issue and it turns out that the huge production of corn and the cheap sweetener coincides with the food companies going public. Now that the companies are accountable to the shareholders for a profit, they 'push' the calories as much as possible... how else can you pack so many calories into sandwiches like the fast food giants. The most obscene commercial I saw in Argentina was one from Burger King (British company, you know) pushing a triple cheeseburger...yes, a triple. No other commercial pushed food.

Do you know how many obese people I saw there? Oh, twelve or fifteen in 2 weeks, two different states in the country.

Spork In the Eye said...

Interesting that going public coincided with government subsidies via corn. Double whammy.

I have noticed much the same in parts of Europe and Central America.