Movie Reviews by LAN Participants
- King Corn - by Matt Becker
The filmmakers, who showed this April 15 at Bucknell, are selling DVDs of "King Corn" for $25 (www.kingcorn.net) and guess what: they're underpriced. I never thought anyone could make a wickedly funny movie about subsidy farming, feedlot cattle, and epidemic diabetes courtesy of high-fructose corn syrup (20,000 acres of corn sweeten Brooklyn's sodas each year). Or that two guys from Yale would attend the auction at which their Iowa farmer host gives up and sells the farm, pick up some Fisher Price tractors and barns, and use them for stop-action animations of how fossil-fuel inputs helped wipe out family farming.
As a long-time trucker and devoted reader of Richard Heinberg I pay a lot of attention to petroleum, and "King Korn" is food for much thought here. The filmmakers borrowed an acre of cornfield, and show us what goes on it and what comes off. There they are spraying ammonia, which quadruples the yield, but the ammonia comes from natural gas. The corn is genetically modified to tolerate a petroleum-derived pesticide. And of course all the work is done with tractors the size of 707's, and the corn (quite inedible in the raw state, since it's been selected for sugar and nothing but) gets trucked and trained over the horizon. I left feeling very thoughtful about what a different place U.S. agriculture's going to be when we no longer have the same amount of fossil fuels to pour in.
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