Independent film star Kurt Ellis was at the OEFFA conference this weekend, showing his new short film Big River as a sequel to the 2007 King Corn documentary.
It all started when, after completing college in Boston, Ellis and his friend Ian Cheney traveled across the country (as many young people did), they noticed that much of the food they consume while driving was made from corn. They decided to grow one acre on a small farm in Iowa where their relatives lived. Iowa is part of the corn belt and what began as a curious demolition of what it means to be a traditional maize farmer in America ultimately reveals how the industrialization of maize has brought family farming to almost disappearance with larger industrial farms . This trend reflects the greater industrialization of the North American food system in which decisions about what crops are subsidized and how they are grown are based more on economic considerations from race to bottom than on their environmental or population implications . They carefully look at the production of corn-based nutritional supplements whose empty calories are found in countless food products and contribute to our national epidemic of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
In a spontaneous interview with The Erie Wire, Ellis discusses the Big River and what he and Cheney have found downstream following the flow of petroleum based pesticides and fertilizers and the increase in corn cobs. With Iowa in the Mississippi River Basin, they both learn that more than half of Iowa's top soil layer has washed the waterways along with nitrate fertilizers that cause a massive dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. They also find that the same chemicals they used to grow acres are accused of cluster cancer in this small farming community.
As part of the population that is most closely related to the land, farmers have to be rewarded for soil conservation and water conservation. Ask your senators and representatives to protect the conservation management program and tell the Obama administration to support the green payments that reward sustainable agriculture instead of outdated policies behind the raw materials rewarding only production. Sign the petition.
GH1 – Minolta 28mm – Rode – FCP – CC3way