I watched a documentary last night called “King Corn.” I’ve seen it before but felt like watching it again, because I remember it being pretty interesting. (This clip is an extended clip form PBS; definitely take time to watch the whole hour and a half film.)
It’s about two friends – Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis – who have their hair analyzed, because a hair sample can tell you what you’ve been eating. And the two find out that they’re eating mostly corn. So they plant an acre of corn in Iowa and then hope to follow it from harvest to wherever it ends up in the food chain.
Realistically, they can’t follow their specific corn, so they examine the general path most of the corn takes. Which is from the acre to your dinner plate. In fact, almost everything you eat and drink is corn.
What I found fascinating – and why I wanted to watch the film again – is how corn impacts everything from farming to our health to commerce.
Take the way beef in America is raised. It’s mostly grain fed, which is not what a cow was designed to eat. As a result, you end up with unhealthy cows who need antibiotics to ward of disease, and unhealthy Americans who eat the unhealthy beef.
And it’s not just meat. Almost everything we eat or drink is processed with high fructose corn syrup or some other corn by product. Just look at the labels and try to find products made without high fructose corn syrup.
We consume a lot of the stuff. In Brooklyn, NY, just to use one example, 139 million gallons of soda are consumed every year, which is sweetened by 20,000 acres of corn.
And the reality is that drinking one soda a day will almost double your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Look at your average fast food meal – it’s mostly corn. the burger is corn fed beef, the soda is high fructose corn syrup, and the fries were likey fried in corn oil.
Which is largely why Americans are so unhealthy. We eat unhealthy food that’s been raised in an unhealthy way.
“If you look at a t-bone steak from a grain-fed cow it may have as much as 9 grams of saturated fat,” says Loren Cordain of the University of Colorado in the documentary, “whereas a comparable steak from a grass fed animal would have 1.3 grams of saturated fat.”
And we really only have ourselves to blame. Cattle farmer Bob Bledsoe weighs in:
“If the American people wanted strictly grass fed beef, we would produce grass fed beef. But it’s definitely more expensive and one of the tenents in America is that America wants and demands cheap food.”
If you’re interested at all about your food and your healthy, check out the documentary “King Corn.” It’s very interesting and will shed some light on not just what you eat but how it affects everything from agriculture to health.