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King Corn – we are what we eat, drink and cook with

King Corn

King Corn

This film came out about a year ago, but I saw it for the first time on the History Channel a couple of days ago. A very enlightening view of the omnipresence of corn and corn-products in our food. From corn-fed beef to corn-starch and high-fructose corn syrup (boo!), industrial production of corn is in all facets of our diet.

In the film, two friends set out to produce an acre of corn and track how it grows and where is goes. Inspired by the Omnivore’s Dilemma and in tune with other recent super-docs (Super Size Me, Food Inc., The End of the Line), King Corn is a sensitive and educational film that manages not to stray into anti-industry polemic.

This extended clip from PBS shows the first 20-minutes of the movie:

It’s amazing to see that the corn farmers can’t even feed themselves with the corn they grow – it is not fit to be eaten! Instead it is bred and grown for maximum starch output. If you get a chance, watch it.

One impactful scene explains how high fructose corn syrup came to be and how it is made. Something to surely make you think twice about the contents of the processed foods we eat. Here’s a challenge – check the labels in the supermarket and see how may products contain it.

Components of the Human Diet

As always, click on the shadowed images to be taken to links, including original research papers, videos and a really good document from the WHO.

After watching the Jamie Oliver TED talk, get working on the quiz and activities on Moodle.

Jamie Oliver’s TED Wish: Teach All Kids About Nutrition.

Michael Specter – The Danger of Science Denialism

Why do otherwise rational, sensible people choose to reject good science in some cases and believe unfounded claims in others?

With apparently eroding trust in government and authority, people are looking to less reliable sources of information – which is particularly dangerous when it comes to health. On the one hand, they believe stories such as ‘Facebook causes cancer‘, or in the unproven alt-meds of homeopathy and vitamin supplements, yet they reject solid scientific evidence with regard to vaccine safety, anti-retroviral drugs or GM crops.

As Michael Specter says in this TED 2010 talk, “We hate BigPharma… and we run from it into the arms of Big Placebo*.”

“The idea that we should not allow science to do its job because we are afraid is really very deadening, and it’s preventing millions of people from prospering.”

From a TOK perspective, how does this talk highlight the clash between emotion and reason in the ways of knowing? (Or as Specter says, “You have the right to your own beliefs- but not your own facts.”)

*The industry in non-proven remedies and vitamin supplements runs to billions of dollars a year.

Ben Goldacre: Bad Science Interview

Dr. Ben Goldacre is the author of the excellent Bad Science blog and column in the Guardian newspaper. His new book, BadScience, is out now and in it he explains how (with many, many examples), Science is misrepresented in the media and how some ‘quack’ disciplines present unscientific data as fact.

NewScientist has a review of his book here, and there is a short interview with Ben on their channel:

He has helped produce some teaching materials for schools, which are available here.

Top posts for IB Bio students to read:

1. Don’t Dumb Me Down

2. The Media’s MMR Hoax (Wakefield trial, autism and vaccines non-link)

3. The Man Behind the Mop of Death (false-positive MRSA results from a garden-shed phony)

4. The Huff (statistics)

5. Anything to do with dodgy fish-oil trials, quack homeopaths (especially evil AIDS-denialists),  BrainGym and nutritionists.

It’s all good.

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