King Corn (2007)
This documentary film is a sort of prequel to Fast Food Nation, and does for film what Michael Pollan has done in his two books, The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food. Best friends Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis relocate from the east coast to Greene, Iowa (population 1,015) to grow an acre of corn and then follow its fortunes after harvest. Planting an acre of 31,000 genetically modified kernels takes eighteen minutes. Fertilizers, sprays, water and time will yield about 200 bushels or 10,000 pounds of corn. That's why there are literal mountains of corn in Iowa. But none of it is edible, and was ever intended to be, until it is artificially processed. Over half of the crop goes to feed cattle, another third goes for ethanol and exports, and then a significant minority of it goes to make high fructose corn syrup and similar sweeteners that you'll find on virtually every label of processed food. In short, this is corn that is not really food. Cheney and Ellis netted a loss of .92 on their acre of corn, but that's before massive government subsidies put them in the black. Not even the farmers in this film were happy about agribusiness as usual, but that's the story of corn to date.