Critique of “King Corn”


Critiqueof “King Corn”

Overviewof King Corn’s Topic and the Issue It Highlights

KingCornis one of the films that endeavor at communicating a problem throughdemonstration rather than telling it. The documentary film wasreleased in 2007 under the directions of Aaron Woolf (Onion, 2008).KingCorndemonstrates and explains the negative effects of America’s foodsupply that is mainly based on corn. The central characters of thefilm are Curtis Ellis and Ian Cheney, who move to Iowa to cultivatecorn on an acre piece of land (Mercola, 2013). In the process, Ellisand Cheney study the role played by increased production of corn inthe American Society. They highlight the governments’ role insubsidizing corn farming as a way of encouraging farmers to grow hugeamounts.

KingCorn illustrateshow the representation of the family farm has been eliminated bylarge industrial farms, reflecting superior industrialization of foodsystems in North America (Onion, 2008). The film demonstrates thatdecisions regarding the kinds of crops grown and the techniquesemployed are founded on economic considerations that are influencedby the government. It is in contrast with their required propersocial, environmental, and economic implications. This is evidencedin the movie through the production of corn syrup that is high infructose. Most low-priced food products including fast foods containthis ingredient. In a nutshell, the movie has highlighted theproblems and dangers associated with America’s agriculture that ismainly based on the production of cheap corn.

Explanationof the Film’s Argument

MostAmerica’s farmers grow industrial corn, not because of increaseddemand, but because of government subsidies making its productioncheaper. Industrialization has resulted in production of surpluscorn, which is used for various purposes. For instance, it is used tomanufacture corn syrup, a constituent found in most processed foodproducts. Although this appears good, it is harmful to the health ofall individuals. The corn is used to feed cows, making them sickwhile at the same time, producing fatty meat that is unhealthy(Mercola, 2013). These foods, considering their low costs areavailable and affordable by most people. Almost all processed foodseaten by America’s families including burger, bread, and meat amongothers have corn ingredients in them. While this is so, small scalefarmers are wiped out of business, and replaced by large scalefarmers. The result is amplification of production, worsening theaforementioned problems.

Thefilm illustrates that the American system is characteristic ofeconomic inefficiency which cannot be ignored. The implications ofthe policy have been demonstrated by the filmmakers, as they startexamining the degree to which corn is used in food production. It isclear that corn has become king in the US agriculture. Themodification in farm policy to one founded on amplified production ofcorn.

Discussionof the Evidence the Film Presented to Support the Argument

Intheir desire to understand how some of the American food products areproduced, Cheney and Ellis establish that the average diet is mainlymade of corn. They demonstrated this by growing an acre piece of cornin Iowa. Although they wanted to follow where the crop goes afterharvest, they were not able to achieve it. However, what theydiscovered in the process could not be disregarded. They includedextinction of family farms, inhumane animal feeding methods, andemployment of corn sweeter which is linked with diabetes and obesity.KingCornaims at influencing the farm bill, which is responsible for governingthe farm policy in America (Mercola, 2013). Considering that the realfarming is little, both Ellis and Cheney have adequate time forinvestigating why corn is drastically overproduced in the nation, aswell as finding the victims of the cheap ingredient.

Throughindustrialization, government subsidies and chemical fertilizers haveencouraged individuals to grow huge amounts of corn resulting in highyields (Onion, 2008). Such kind of farming has disregarded consumerneed or organic edibility. In addition, after following the harvestin the commercial food chain, the two discover concentrations campsfull of corn fed animals. They also listen to the Corn RefinersAssociation spokeswoman praising the desirable qualities of cornsyrup that is rich in fructose. She does this in spite of thewidespread obesity cases that America is struggling with.

Tounderstand the issues surrounding farming, Ellis and Cheneyendeavored to interview experts, professors, authors, as well aslocal farmers. The information they obtained regarding artificialfarming and where the corn goes after harvest was all they needed toprove their point. Over half of the harvest is fed on cattle a thirdis exported while the rest is used to make high-fructose corn syrup,as well as sweeteners (Mercola, 2013). Such are added to almost allprocessed foods. Besides, after they managed to taste the corn, theywere frustrated to realize that they had grown inedible corn(industrial corn). Feeding cattle with corn means that America isproducing already obese meat, which is then consumed by people. Thisindustrial corn is not good to the health of the population.

Theyalso carried out a carbon analysis that indicated that they are“corn-based”. This was evidenced after they presented their hairfor scrutiny at the University of Virginia. What they discoveredsurprised them carbon found in their bodies was derived from corn.In brief, the film indicates that individuals are made of corn.

AnEvaluation of the Evidence

Themovie has adequately supported the argument put forth. Asaforementioned, Ellis and Cheney conducted interviews with variouspeople in order to get more information about corn farming. Theyinterviewed various people among them, Michael Pollan, writer of TheOmnivore’s Dilemma (Onion, 2008). They also interview a number oflocal farmers, experts and professors, all with the aim ofcomprehending the problems surrounding corn farming in America.

Afterfarming their acre piece of land, Cheney and Ellis realized $19.92 asloss. However, this was prior to the huge government subsidies. KingCorn hastraced the invasive impacts of corn in America, encompassing obesitypandemic. It has also evidenced that framers are increasingly growinglarge amounts of inedible corn in order to continue gettinggovernment subsidies.

Theyalso tour different cattle feedlots and ranchers in Colorado wherebyanimals are fed on corn. Their findings indicate that consumption oflarge amounts of corn results in the development of acidic condition(acidosis), eventually leading to death. At the University ofColorado, Ellis and Cheney interviewed Loren Cordian who stated thatmeat from a corn-fed animal comprises of nine grams of saturated fatas matched up to a grass fed animal that comprises of 1.5 grams(Onion, 2008). Nutritionists interviewed also confirmed that cornsyrup and corn-fed meat contributes to diabetes and obesity pandemic.

Discussionof the film’s strongest point, most surprising point, and itsgreatest weakness

Akey strength of KingCornis the manner in which it has supported its argument. It has provideddifferent evidences, from planting the corn to conducting interviewsto demonstrate the problem. The most surprising point is that animalsfed on large amounts of corn can from acidosis. Besides, theyaccumulate 9 grams of fat that can cause obesity. The greatestweakness of the film is that it failed to provide adequate researchon the issue.


KingCorn. Officialwebsite.Retrieved from

Mercola(2013). KingCorn: the subsidized crop that drives our fast-food nation.Retrieved from

Onion,R. (2008). King Corn, A film by Aaron Wolf, Ian Cheney and CurtEllis, TheJournal of Ecopedagogy,4(1): 122-124.