Corny film shows how seed feeds us

Peninsula College's Magic of Cinema Film Series and Sustainable Peninsula are co-sponsoring the May 7 screening of "King Corn," a powerful documentary about two friends, an acre of corn and the subsidized crop that drives the U.S. as a fast-food nation.

The film begins at 7 p.m. in the college's Little Theater and will be followed by a faculty-led discussion.

"King Corn" was made by Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, best friends who attended college on the East Coast and moved to Iowa, the top corn producer in the nation, to learn where their food comes from. With the help of friendly neighbors, genetically modified seeds and powerful herbicides, the two plant and grow a bumper crop of America's most-productive, most-subsidized grain on one acre of Iowa soil.

When they try to follow their corn crop into the food system, they find it is not as easy as it sounded, and they become increasingly troubled by what they discover: Almost everything Americans eat contains corn. From high-fructose corn syrup to corn-fed meat and corn-based processed foods, they discover corn is indeed king. As feedlot operator Bob Bledsoe says in the film, "America wants and demands cheap food."

Ann Hornaday echoed this sentiment in her review in the Washington Post, noting the film "should be required viewing before going into a supermarket, McDonald's or your very own refrigerator."

Also included in the documentary is footage featuring Michael Pollan, author of "The Omnivore's Dilemma," and an interesting interview with Earl Butz, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, who defends cheap food.

General admission is $5 or $1 with a Peninsula College student I.D. For more information on the series or to be added to the e-mail list and receive notices on upcoming films, contact Bruce Hattendorf at

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