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Curt Ellis lecture: 'Ask What You Can Feed Your Country'

  • Date: Tuesday, May 3, 2011
  • Time: 7:00 pm
  • Location: Valders 206

DECORAH, Iowa—Curt Ellis, founder of FoodCorps and a Peabody-winning film- maker, will speak at Luther College Tuesday, May 3 at 7 p.m. in Room 206 of the Valders Hall of Science.

His lecture, titled "Ask Not What Your Country Can Feed You—Ask What You Can Feed Your Country," will discuss his documentaries, advocacy and ideas for changing the way America eats.

A reception with Ellis will follow the lecture.  The lecture and reception are open to the public with no charge for admission.

A 2002 Yale graduate, Ellis is the creator of the hit documentaries "King Corn" and "The Greening of Southie." He is a passionate campaigner for changing the way America eats, builds and lives.

"King Corn" presents the story of Ellis and his best friend, Ian Cheney, on a yearlong journey to understand where their food comes from by growing it.  The pair also learns to drive a combine, cash in on government subsidies, and homebrew high-fructose corn syrup.  Their Peabody-winning findings have been shared with 60 cities and in a PBS national broadcast.

As a Food and Society Fellow with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Ellis returned to Iowa to produce and direct a 30-minute sequel, "Big River: A King Corn Companion."  The film, which explores the impact of Ellis and Cheney's chemical farming practices on the people and places downstream, aired on Discovery's Planet Green in 2010.

In "The Greening of the Southie," Ellis and Cheney follow Boston's first residential "green" building through the stories of the men and women who set out to construct it.  The documentary has been broadcast on the Sundance Channel and released on A&E DVD.

Ellis currently serves as a founding member of FoodCorps, an AmeriCorps program that focuses on service in rural, urban and suburban school food systems that have children challenged with high rates of obesity and limited access to healthy foods.

Luther College is one of the 10 FoodCorps sites selected from 108 applicants during the program's launch in 2011-12.

The Luther College Environmental Studies Department, with the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative (FFI), will host the first troop of FoodCorps members as they work to build and tend school gardens, conduct hands-on nutrition education and facilitate farm to school programming.

Luther's sustainability program has partnered with FFI for two years.  It is one of nine national sites funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Food and Community Program.

Ellis is currently working under grants from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Corporation for National and Community Service, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

He has appeared on CNN, ABC, CBS, and NPR, as well as in The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Ellis also founded the award-winning documentary and advocacy company Wicked Delicate.  Truck Farm is one project of the Brooklyn-based company.  Based on the slogan, "Old Truck. New Farm." the project is a mobile community farm, documentary about urban agriculture and public art and education project created by Cheney. For more information about Wicked Delicate, visit the company website:

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