King Corn follows the story of how corn is processed and grown in America. Two young men---fascinated by how corn products make up the majority of their diet---move to Iowa to grow an acre of corn and learn about modern farming practices. This is a documentary that every American should watch, for it uncovers how government programmed farming is stripping our land of its biodiversity and producing food that is inedible. The corn grown in Iowa and across the states is primarily yellow dent corn, or commodity corn that must be processed in order to be consumed or turned into edible products. With their small acre of land, the two men quickly find out from their neighbors that the only way to make a living as a farmer is to adopt a monocropping culture and to have a lot of land.
The corn grown in America is mostly processed to become sweetener, animal food, cornstarch and numerous other carbohydrates that fill most of our processed foods and supermarket shelves. Not only is this corn mentality ruining our diet, but it is degrading the soil, eliminating small farms, and creating a demand for harsh herbicides. Ultimately, this documentary sheds light upon the farmer’s dilemma in which their livelihood is determined by government demand instead of what is right for the land.
In light of the problems surrounding commodity corn in America, “King Corn” leaves the audience wondering what they can do to clean up our country’s agricultural mess. I suggest that we support our farmers by shopping locally at farmer’s markets or small stores. We can also avoid corn products in the grocery stores. At the Eastern Shore Food Lab, we have learned how to enjoy corn in a wholesome and nutritious way. At the Food Lab, we make our own corn tortillas using the nixtamalization process. Nixtamalization is when you soak corn in an alkaline solution and the corn becomes chemically changed. Corn is abundant in vitamin B, but this vitamin is chemically bound to other molecules making it unavailable to humans. To free the vitamin, corn is cooked in an alkaline solution thus making the corn more nutritious. After nixtamalization, we thoroughly rinse the corn, run it through the molino grinding machine, and shape it into masa. The tortillas are then pressed and cooked.