King Corn: You Are What You Eat
For preview only. Get it on  #ad.

King Corn: You Are What You Eat

2007, Health  -   17 Comments
Ratings: 5.73/10 from 15 users.

When Ian Cheney and his best friend Curt Ellis graduated from college they thought they were done with professors and they supposed to feel like they had their whole lives ahead of them, but they just heard some rather disconcerting news. Some day they were going to die, and maybe sooner than they thought. For the first time in American history their generation was at risk of having a shorter lifespan than their parents. And it was because of what they ate.

So they started to keep track of what they were eating. But they found they needed help making sense of their data. Hair is a continuous recorder, it's a tape recorder of diet. The food that becomes part of your diet will eventually find its way to your hair. So they analyzed their hair and the conclusion was that the carbon in their bodies really originates from corn. We're talking about the corn that's been used as material (high fructose corn syrup), which is going into the foods that we use ubiquitously. We also feed animals with corn and that gets turned into their biomass that we consume.

Ian and Curt had grown up on the coast but for some reason they felt drawn to the midwest. Maybe it was because a long time before there was corn in their hair, there was corn in their genes. By an incredible coincidence Ian and Curt each had a great grandfather in the same tiny county in rural Iowa. Three generations after their great grandparents left they were moving back, to find out how an acre of corn could get from a field in Iowa into their hair.

More great documentaries

Notify of

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
10 years ago

Interesting doc it was somewhat boring for the first half but when they talked to the professor, medical doctors, and the guy with empirical family evidence of diabetes it was quite good. It just proves that when various components are taken out of food what is left is very dangerous. A great example is sugar vs sugar cane, one is stripped of everything in nutritional value and causes disease where as the other is quite refreshing and contains various beneficial nutrients. Thus one is really a poison. Great doc if someone doesn't know about various sugars...

10 years ago

I would highly (very strongly actually) recommend anyone with even the slightest interest in this doc & its subject matter to read the excellent book by Michael Pollan: The Omnivore's Dilemma.

It addresses head on, the issue of corn in (taking over) our diets as well as countless other issues that are not only of interest but necessary to discuss in the current climate of food production. The ethical, moral, financial & political implications of the North American diet & farmers adapting to a corn based food system in the last 1/2 decade has far reaching consequences that we are only just beginning to scratch the surface of.

I personally do not think it would be a waste of anyone's time to invest in the few moments it takes to watch this film & also go out & purchase/borrow "The Omnivore's Dilemma" & read it as well. I have no affiliation or ties to the author or publisher of the aforementioned title. It is only that it takes this topic into more depth & detail & would be a worthwhile endeavour for any person concerned with our planet, future & health.

& TD Films: Thanks for providing access to this film. Sure it's 6 years old but the information is pertinent & unfortunately only now just catching on.

10 years ago

i found this documentary disappointing

10 years ago

Very interesting doc! What do you get if you combine the social science of economics with the natural sciences of biology and chemistry?

I'll give you a clue...'Would you like fries with that?'

The more massive a farm, the more corn produced and the lower the price paid per bushel becomes. The lower the price per bushel, the less likely a small farm can remain in profit. The big squash the small. The lower the cost of corn, the cheaper food products can be sold to consumers.

...Perhaps it's true that philosophy bakes no bread...but do you like the bread science makes?

It really irks me when the system touts things like "People demand cheap food" without a mention of profit driven motives higher up the chain. People take the best offer available to them. Companies take the shortest route to profit possible.

...Companies must seek evermore growth through profit since money itself must grow, consume or risk being consumed in turn.

At the end of the day whatever surplus money/spending power we the consumers have, you can guarantee someone, somewhere will relieve us of it (through higher house prices, higher taxes, interest rates, etc.). There is no 'cheap food' just as there is no 'surplus wealth' - it's all just relative price points of what the market will bear. If we all had 'surplus wealth' prices simply go up (inflation). We are kept in this limbo of scarcity and then blamed for demanding cheap food, all the while profits increase proportional to efficiency and productivity. It's ridiculous and it's rigged that way!

Food production methods will continue to head south and corporate profit with continue to head north. That's the result of capitalism, not our demands for cheap food.

Consumers are the philosophers in this picture (they don't bake bread), companies are the scientists (they bake cr&p). The price per bushel is the god of market capitalism reigning down supreme...what a friggin mess we're in - we are so rich, but kept so poor. Let's bake bread!

Luyang Han
10 years ago

I failed to see why it is the wrong of corn, but not the bad diet habit. If you choose cheap and sweet, this is what you deserve.

10 years ago

Genetically modified seeds=Monsanto The killing seeds, research and find out.

10 years ago

High fructose corn syrup is killing us. I always wonder why some food manufacturers use it--is their product that tasteless that they have to supplement it with this junk?

10 years ago

Excellent documentary. Corn may be the biggest mistake of America agriculture... and there are many mistakes. The only reason that farmers grow corn is because they are like junkies unable to kick the habit as the pusher who keep giving them money to buy more drugs to continue their addiction. Of course, farmers who don't comply are likely to lose the farm. From what I understand the major driver is food processing giants demanding cheap products like corn sweetners etc etc etc. and this keeps an over supply of over processed CHEAP foods with little nutritional value. So obesity, diabetes, heart disease and a host of all diseases are rampant.