Sunday, August 14, 2011

King Corn

When we restarted the blog for the summer, I promised there would be movie reviews, and I even added a "movie review" category to the sidebar! So what happened? Honestly, I find them hard to write. To begin with, I am not an expert in farming or nutrition, so I'm worried I'll mess up the facts. The other problem is intent: I don't want to sound preachy, and I don't want to BE preachy.

But I still want movie reviews, so I'm giving it another go, and we'll see how I do!

A few days ago, Gerry and I rewatched the documentary King Corn. To summarize the movie, way too much corn is being produced because of government subsidies, and this is leading to a degradation of our food supply. Go to the King Corn website and click on the "Farm Bill" button on the right to read a better explanation of this than I could ever write. When I was a kid, corn was the lovely, tender stuff we bought at farm stands for a dollar a dozen. Now it's industrialized and the things they're doing with it--feeding it to cows who aren't built for that diet and processing it into freaky corn sweeteners--are practically poisoning us.

For Gerry, his first viewing of King Corn marked the beginning of a shift in his diet. There is a scene in the movie (and I hope I'm not ruining it for anyone) where a nutritionist sticks his hand through a little door in the side of a live cow to show the effects of the corn heavy diet. Gerry remembers me asking if he was ready to become a vegetarian. I couldn't see anything that drastic happening, but I did encourage him to seek out healthier alternatives to the meats he was buying at the grocery store. We realized this would mean the end of discount meats, so he's compensated by eating less. Eating a better quality meat (and less of it) has resulted in better numbers at the doctor's office, too.

For my part, I've never eaten meat, so I didn't have any changes to make there. Instead, I zeroed in on high fructose corn syrup. I'm sure I'd heard of HFCS before watching King Corn, but I don't think I realized how prevalent it was. I sort of figured that it would be in really junky things like Pop Tarts and Kool know, things I wasn't eating anyway. Then I started checking bread wrappers. HFCS! Spaghetti sauce. HFCS! Cranberry juice. HFCS! Raisin bran. HFCS! Ritz crackers. HFCS! Holy cow.

So now what? Well, at first I looked for substitutes. I actually found and bought different highly-processed foods that just happened to be free of the dreaded sweetener. And these days it's much easier to do as some manufacturers have caught on and removed HFCS from their recipes.

So that's a step in the right direction...sort of. Eventually, however, I figured out that an even easier way to avoid the stuff was by avoiding processed foods. These days, I couldn't even tell you what's for sale in most of the middle aisles of the grocery store. And honestly? When I see the array of things for sale it makes me kind of sick.

Just in case you think I'm getting a little preachy let me tell you this: I love cotton candy, potato chips are a staple around here, and we still go out for fast food sometimes. We're not perfect. But we're a long way from where we were.

So what does this have to do with anything? Well, we believe it's important to support small farms by joining a CSA or shopping at local farm stands because it ensures we will have fresh, healthy food to eat. I don't want to see even more small farms gobbled up by corn growers so that more cows--and more people for that matter-- can eat themselves sick.

1 comment:

Velga said...

Well said. I highly recommend the book "The Omnivore's Dilemma," by Michael Pollan. He touches upon these same issues.