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King Corn, the moviePosted Monday, April 21, 2008, at 2:46 PM
As many of you know, in my biweekly column, Semi View, I wrote my opinion of the film King Corn, which was shown on PBS April 15. (I think it is being shown at other times as well, check your local listings.)
After receiving some comments on my column, my editor asked me to start a blog to respond and to ask for opinions from others who have seen or read about the film. You can read my original article at www.marshallnews.com/story/1323817.html
Below is my answer to FarmAll and Photo01, who posted at the above website on April 19 and 20, 2008. I would welcome any discussion of the movie.
You certainly have a right to your opinion and I respect that.
There are a few things I would like to clarify. The corn we grow is not crap, our cows certainly don't think so and neither does our local ethanol plant. It would also taste good to a pig, chicken or a number of farm animals -- it is a raw commodity out of the field, not sweet corn.
And just to note - only one farmer in the film said it was crap and he is no longer farming, so I wouldn't consider him an expert.
In the film, the actual farmer or Mr. Pyatt, who owned the farm, never said it was crap. And I would add that one person saying so, does not make it so, just like my opinion of King Corn shouldn't be automatically others' opinion. I encourage people to watch it - and talk to real farmers - then make up their own minds.
I'm not sure where you are from, but in our area of Missouri, 6,000 acre -- one-family farms are very rare, and not the norm. (Saline County is one of the largest corn producing counties in our state.) I know of only one farm close to that size, but there are 3 families (a father and two sons) working that farm. Today, (in our area) because of the high cost of getting started in farming, most young farmers join existing operations, which is one reason most "family farms" are bigger now.
Yes, as the wife of a 7th generation American farmer and mother of two boys who would like to be the eighth generation I do fear an "avalanche." I hope you really don't mean that you want the U.S. agriculture industry to be "devastated" as you said third world countries were. How would that help our country? We would have no say over our food supply if it came from foreign countries. Not to mention the devastation to rural America.
From what I understand, our protection of the U.S. sugar industry is the real reason other countries aren't able to sell sugar in America.
As for HFCS, Curtis himself has told me that he doesn't believe there is a difference between it and sugar. I do agree, however, that people need to be informed on what they are eating. However, as a journalist I still find it appalling that a whole industry (or crop) can be condemned for 5 percent of its product. (If you add the corn fed to cattle, this movie still focuses on less than 25 percent of corn's usage.)
And if you are paying attention now, you will see that corn prices are currently 3 times the price they were in the film. And although I don't agree that the current rise in food prices is because of current crop prices (it has much more to do with high energy costs), people are already hurting. I wonder where our economy would be today without America's relatively inexpensive food supply over the last 30 years. And I know for a fact, subsidies -- love them or hate them -- have kept many of the 1 million family farmers afloat.
And note to photo01, I'm not sure when it will be on again, but check your local PBS listings. Also DVD's are for sale on King Corn's website.
As for grass fed beef, I really am not sure about it's health benefits. I will say that I (and according to one study, 80 percent of Americans) still prefer the flavor of corn-fed beef. As more than one chef has said, "If you take out the fat, you take out the flavor." And despite what I have read in some articles, the old-timers I talk to said their beef has always been fattened with corn. The difference was instead of big feedlots; more farmers fed a group of animals at their farm. As I said, they are "old-timers," many older than 90, who have spent their whole life eating corn-fed! According to them, moderation in everything is the key to a long healthy life.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read the article and comment.
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