Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wow, American's Love Corn!

Well I just watched King Corn a 2007 documentary by two college buddies who decide to trace their family roots back to Iowa and plant an acre of corn. In the process they examine the past thirty years of corn production and the shift in agriculture policy in the U.S. They dive into where their acre of corn may end up and how it is likely to be used.

It's really an amazing, enlightening and easy to watch film that helps reveal some of the root causes of our societal problems including obesity, diabetes, generally human health, land use, economics, and, even though not explicitly mentioned, links to climate change.

A few interesting stats mentioned in the movie include:
  • Iowa alone produces enough corn to feed the U.S.
  • The corn produced in Iowa and other Midwestern states is largely used for cattle feed, or as food additives/ingredients and is not really edible or directly consumable by humans
  • The average American family spends about 17% of their income on food as compared to thirty years ago when it took about twice as much to feed a family
  • Corn has such a low value per bushel that if it were not for government subsidies it would not be profitable to produce.
I found the movie fascinating and enlightening and am even more dismayed than before that we continue to perpetuate flawed agriculture policy that has devastating effects on the American people and our economy.

We need major overhauls in the U.S. of our agricultural, transportation, energy, health care, and educational systems. I can't help but wonder whether we as citizens of the United States are up for this challenge. The first measure will be the upcoming presidential election and the extent to which we all stand up and demand a change.

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