Monday, October 15, 2007
I heard on NPR today about what sounds to be a SUPERB documentary coming out:
Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, two best friends from college, made this documentary about their decision to move from the East Coast to the American heartland to find out where the food they eat actually comes from. The two pals became farmers themselves, raised their own crop of corn in the Iowa soil and followed where the grain went after they sold it into the marketplace .
The Basics: A documentary about two college graduates growing an acre of corn in Iowa. Then they follow that crop through its various lives as cattle feed and as an ingredient in countless other processed foods. They're helped along the way by a government subsidy, some ammonia fertilizer and an entire American food production system that's become completely dependent on the crop. In other words, it's a lighthearted horror movie about where your food comes from — and what it's doing to you (aka making us all fat).
What's the Deal? This is a post-Morgan Spurlock/Michael Moore-style activist documentary but one that goes about its business in a really even-handed, genial way. It exists to reconnect viewers with the idea that the food you eat actually comes from somewhere, and just by being made puts it in a headbutt situation with an agribusiness culture that would just as soon not have the public know much about the whats, whys and hows.
One of Many Gross Facts You'll Learn If You Watch This Movie: If you ever saw that episode of Oprah where Dr. Oz brought out the tray of solidified high-fructose corn syrup (it's probably on YouTube) and made the audience shriek, then you'll do that, too, when you learn this: The average American consumes 73.5 pounds of it each year.
Another Fact (Not Gross — Just Weird and Sad): Most of the corn that grows is unsuitable for eating right off the stalk. It's now just raw material for other processes. In other words, a farmer growing it couldn't feed himself with it.
Now Go Check Out: The silent-but-deadly-serious documentary Our Daily Bread and the book The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan.