We had the great opportunity to ask Ian Cheney of King Corn 10 questions.
"King Corn is a feature documentary about two friends, one acre of corn, and the subsidized crop that drives our fast-food nation. In King Corn, Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, best friends from college on the east coast, move to the heartland to learn where their food comes from. With the help of friendly neighbors, genetically modified seeds, and powerful herbicides, they plant and grow a bumper crop of America's most-productive, most-subsidized grain on one acre of Iowa soil. But when they try to follow their pile of corn into the food system, what they find raises troubling questions about how we eat-and how we farm."
1. What was your goal going into making King Corn?
Ian: Growing up on the East Coast, I had a decent understanding of where apples, blueberries and cranberries came from, but the majority of what I ate came from elsewhere. Put simply, my goal in developing King Corn with Curt and Aaron was to tell the story of where our food comes from -- by growing it.
2. How was King Corn financed? Were large donations made to the making of the film?
Ian: King Corn was a grassroots operation. Small foundations and dozens of generous individuals buoyed us through the first several years, until the Independent Television Service (ITVS) came on board with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
3. Did you have any previous education or experience in the food industry or agriculture going into this film?
Ian: In college I became very active in bringing local farmers to campus to supply their produce to the dining halls. Like many of my peers, I had an almost instinctual desire to forge a better connection with the sources of my food. As this work developed into the Yale Sustainable Food Project, I also completed a Master's degree studying the ways in which consumers become disconnected from the sources of their food. But it wasn't really possible to study food or farming at my liberal arts college, and most of the calories in the dining hall were from cattle ranches or processing plants thousands of miles away.
5. Did you ever raise enough to buy the acre of land? Was it left empty or was something else planted on it?
6. Why did the farmer you stayed with end up leaving Greene? Was he forced out, retired, etc...?
9. How did you connect with Michael Pollan? How large was his role/influence in the making of King Corn? Was the King Corn concept born before Michael Pollans omnivore's dilemma was published?
10. What is the best way average people can change the way our food system is currently set up for the better?
Ian: There's a lot to be done -- but I'd like to say, "Ask." Ask your waiter where the beef or pork or chicken comes from. Is it grass-fed? Pasture-raised? Local? Are there local options on the menu? Ask at the grocery store, at the convenience store -- and if you don't find what you want, ask why not?
Please check http://www.kingcorn.net/ for screening times and cities.
The Salted Cod would like to thank Ian Cheney & Naomi Starkman for this great opportunity.