Posts by Curt Ellis

Curt Ellis co-produced and stars in the feature documentary “King Corn.”

The film, co-produced by Ian Cheney and produced and directed by Aaron Woolf, opens in theaters October 12. For more information on the film and its bookings, or to watch the trailer, visit www.kingcorn.net.

Curt grew up in Oregon, became interested in food and farms in college, and spent two years in Iowa growing an acre of corn and following its fate as fast food. He is 27.

Watch the movie

Find a local showing of “King Corn” on the King Corn website. And now, just in time for holiday giving: “King Corn” is on DVD! Plus, for every DVD sold between now and Christmas, one dollar will go to support the Next Generation campaign of Practical Farmers of Iowa.

Join the “King Corn Challenge”

Join Curt and co-star Ian Cheney in the King Corn Challenge as they try to forgo industrialized corn.


We invite people with noteworthy ideas about food to blog on Culinate.

Curt Ellis is a filmmaker and four-wheel farmer based in Brooklyn, NY. He co-created the documentaries "King Corn" and "The Greening of Southie," and is a Food and Society Policy Fellow. He is the co-founder of Wicked Delicate.

A truck farm grows in Brooklyn

Drive-through

By
July 29, 2009

Editor’s note: Curt Ellis sent along this piece the other day, about his new project, Truck Farm. A similar piece is also posted over on Civil Eats.

When my buddy Ian suggested we turn his ’86 Dodge half-ton into a planter, I thought the pickup had finally blown its engine. When Ian said he intended to keep the old truck on the road in Brooklyn, I figured he’d blown his.

But now, four months later, we’ve got ripe tomatoes growing in the bed (a gas-station attendant ate the first one last weekend), and the transmission is going strong. Truck Farm, as we at Wicked Delicate call her now, is a mobile CSA, with 12 (increasingly skinny) paying subscribers.

Continue reading A truck farm grows in Brooklyn »

Curt Ellis is a filmmaker and four-wheel farmer based in Brooklyn, NY. He co-created the documentaries "King Corn" and "The Greening of Southie," and is a Food and Society Policy Fellow. He is the co-founder of Wicked Delicate.

Are corn refiners hiding behind ‘moderation’?

A second video response

By
February 6, 2009

Editor’s note: Just this morning, Curt Ellis forwarded this piece to us, as a follow-up to another post he wrote about HFCS; this one’s actually written by Aaron Woolf, Curt’s collaborator on “King Corn,” and Hannah Major-Monfried. To see Curt in his latest video clip, read on. (This piece has been simultaneously posted at Civil Eats.)

It’s hard out there for the Corn Refiners Association; they just can’t seem to catch a break. High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), their trademark product, has faced a relentless barrage of criticism, both fair and unfair. It has been tagged by clinicians, nutritionists, and food bloggers as a primary culprit in America’s obesity epidemic and as a contributor to Type 2 diabetes. And a growing number of consumers just plain don’t like it.

Continue reading Are corn refiners hiding behind ‘moderation’? »

Curt Ellis is a filmmaker and four-wheel farmer based in Brooklyn, NY. He co-created the documentaries "King Corn" and "The Greening of Southie," and is a Food and Society Policy Fellow. He is the co-founder of Wicked Delicate.

Saying no thanks to meat that’s not humanely raised

My New Year’s resolution

By
January 5, 2009

Editor’s note: A version of this post has simultaneously been posted at Civil Eats.

We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals . . . They are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.
— Henry Beston, The Outermost House, 1928

It can be easy to forget that food comes from somewhere. Those of us who eat animals tend to like it that way. For that reason, for most of my life, I’ve done my hunting in the deli case, training my shopping cart on plastic-wrapped livestock at rest in a Styrofoam pasture.

Continue reading Saying no thanks to meat that’s not humanely raised »

Curt Ellis is a filmmaker and four-wheel farmer based in Brooklyn, NY. He co-created the documentaries "King Corn" and "The Greening of Southie," and is a Food and Society Policy Fellow. He is the co-founder of Wicked Delicate.

Sweet revenge

The Corn Refiners Association doesn’t tell the whole story

By
December 11, 2008

Last year around this time, I was recovering from a 30-day diet that forced me to throw out my toothpaste and knocked seven pounds off my frame. I spent that November living out a pledge to avoid corn products, in a stunt for a film I helped make, "King Corn."

On my corn-free plan, the hardest things to avoid turned out to be corn sweeteners. There were funny ones, like Sorbitol (a staple in my Crest, it turns out), but the big problem was that ubiquitous (and, I might add, delicious) goo, high-fructose corn syrup. The stuff was in everything! Spaghetti sauce and bread, Robitussin and fruit juice. Out of the cupboard and into the trash it went.

Continue reading Sweet revenge »

Curt Ellis is a filmmaker and four-wheel farmer based in Brooklyn, NY. He co-created the documentaries "King Corn" and "The Greening of Southie," and is a Food and Society Policy Fellow. He is the co-founder of Wicked Delicate.

Back on the corn

By
January 14, 2008

Well, the results from our corn-free month are in — and I can’t claim that it’s a perfect victory. According to Steve Macko, the researcher at the University of Virginia who first tested our hair back in 2004, my corn carbon count dropped from 52 percent in 2004 to 39 percent now. Ian’s went from 58 percent down (ahem) to 44 percent. I caught up with Dr. Macko last week to find out what it all means.

Curt: So what happened?

Dr. Macko: Well, on the national scale, you’re now far below average for the amount of corn in your body. And looking at your nitrogen isotopes, you’re much closer to being vegan than most people. You’re now about 39 percent corn.

Continue reading Back on the corn »

Curt Ellis is a filmmaker and four-wheel farmer based in Brooklyn, NY. He co-created the documentaries "King Corn" and "The Greening of Southie," and is a Food and Society Policy Fellow. He is the co-founder of Wicked Delicate.

King Corn in the Corn Belt

By
December 19, 2007

With the 12 presidential candidates spending their December tromping around Iowa talking about what’s important to them, we figured we might as well do the same.

With grant support from the Fledgling Fund, the WK Kellogg Foundation, and the SYSCO Corporation, we took “King Corn” back to its roots again last week, for a 10-stop tour of screenings, town-hall discussions, and — as it turned out — lots and lots of soup.

After opening the film in theaters in Minneapolis and St. Louis, we held screening-and-discussion events in the Iowa cities and towns of Algona, Sioux City, Greene, Charles City, Waterloo, Cedar Rapids, Eldora, Clear Lake, and Fairfield, and left the film playing for a week-long theatrical run in Cedar Falls.

Continue reading King Corn in the Corn Belt »

Curt Ellis is a filmmaker and four-wheel farmer based in Brooklyn, NY. He co-created the documentaries "King Corn" and "The Greening of Southie," and is a Food and Society Policy Fellow. He is the co-founder of Wicked Delicate.

Corn again

Amaizing grace

By
November 30, 2007

This is it, folks — Ian and I (and all the daring people out there who signed up to join us!) are down to our last few hours of exile from the Corn Kingdom. Starting tomorrow, it’s December, and we’re off the King Corn Challenge.

Here’s what I’ve learned in 30 days of not eating corn:

Continue reading Corn again »

Curt Ellis is a filmmaker and four-wheel farmer based in Brooklyn, NY. He co-created the documentaries "King Corn" and "The Greening of Southie," and is a Food and Society Policy Fellow. He is the co-founder of Wicked Delicate.

Life outside the corn kingdom

By
November 18, 2007

When we started the King Corn Challenge two and half weeks ago, the idea of living corn-free for a month seemed fun. We’d lay off the soda and the corn-fed burgers, and learn to recognize the ways we unknowingly enjoy America’s biggest crop.

We were in for a sobering surprise.

Since announcing the contest, we’ve been deluged with a flood of comments, notes, and emails from people who live the King Corn Challenge every day, because they — or someone they love — are allergic to corn.

The lists of potential corn products the allergy community has shared with us are unbelievable . . . and ever-expanding:

Continue reading Life outside the corn kingdom »

Curt Ellis is a filmmaker and four-wheel farmer based in Brooklyn, NY. He co-created the documentaries "King Corn" and "The Greening of Southie," and is a Food and Society Policy Fellow. He is the co-founder of Wicked Delicate.

“King Corn” comes home

By
November 8, 2007

Last night we screened “King Corn” to a packed auditorium at Iowa State University. This was the first big showing in the state where we made the film, and I’ll admit to some trepidation going into it.

“You ready for the angry mob?” one of our hosts asked.

Iowa State is a powerhouse Land Grant university, and its agriculture department has long been a force behind our national shift to industrialized farming and eating. If ever we were going to get tomatoes thrown at us, this seemed like the place.

Continue reading “King Corn” comes home »

Curt Ellis is a filmmaker and four-wheel farmer based in Brooklyn, NY. He co-created the documentaries "King Corn" and "The Greening of Southie," and is a Food and Society Policy Fellow. He is the co-founder of Wicked Delicate.

Take the corn-free challenge

Curt throws down the gauntlet

By
November 1, 2007

Every day for the last month, at least one person has asked us: “Did making ‘King Corn’ change the way you eat?”

It’s a simple question, but we’ve never had a good answer for it. A few attempts:

“No, but we’ve changed the way we wish we ate.”
“We’ve started buying grass-fed beef now, and stopped drinking soda.”
“We’re trying — but will you change the way you eat?”
“We’ve stopped eating altogether, actually.”

The honest truth is that it’s hard to change the way you eat. Visiting a 100,000-cow feedlot and home-brewing corn syrup did make fast food a lot less appetizing. I can’t eat a hamburger now without hearing the nutritionist from the film, Loren Cordain: “Hamburger meat is really not meat. It’s fat disguised as meat.” But still, it’s hard to avoid the stuff. Industrial food tastes good — it’s salty and fatty and sweet — and it’s almost irresistibly convenient and cheap.

Continue reading Take the corn-free challenge »

Curt Ellis is a filmmaker and four-wheel farmer based in Brooklyn, NY. He co-created the documentaries "King Corn" and "The Greening of Southie," and is a Food and Society Policy Fellow. He is the co-founder of Wicked Delicate.

Painfully slow food

Making the big cheese

By
October 25, 2007

Around this time last year, to celebrate the end of editing on “King Corn,” my girlfriend and I decided to take an afternoon off and cook up a batch of homemade cheddar cheese. Ha. It didn’t take long to realize that my year as a corn farmer had left me addicted to instant gratification. Ian, Aaron and I had grown 10,000 pounds of food with 2 hours of labor. This cheese took 14 hours to make, 5 days to dry, and 12 months to age — and yielded all of 2 pounds.

Continue reading Painfully slow food »

Curt Ellis is a filmmaker and four-wheel farmer based in Brooklyn, NY. He co-created the documentaries "King Corn" and "The Greening of Southie," and is a Food and Society Policy Fellow. He is the co-founder of Wicked Delicate.

‘King Corn’ goes to Washington

Ian brings a truckload of corn

By
October 18, 2007

The Henry A. Wallace Center invited “King Corn” to screen in Washington D.C. several weeks ago, and after doing our best to rustle up some clean shirts, we showed the film Tuesday night on Capitol Hill.

Ian drove down from Boston in the old Dodge truck we had in Iowa, winding along the New Jersey Turnpike with the truck bed full of corn. The Capitol police seemed a little confused as to what we were up to, but we thought lawmakers 1,000 miles from Iowa might want to take a closer look at what all those farm subsidies are buying: truckload after truckload of yellow dent corn.

Continue reading ‘King Corn’ goes to Washington »

Curt Ellis is a filmmaker and four-wheel farmer based in Brooklyn, NY. He co-created the documentaries "King Corn" and "The Greening of Southie," and is a Food and Society Policy Fellow. He is the co-founder of Wicked Delicate.

Back to the back to the land

Back to the beginning of King Corn

By
October 10, 2007

Continue reading Back to the back to the land »

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