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In the film Interstellar, it looks like the only food human beings eat any more is corn. They seem to be pretty healthy (unless they get ill from the Blight). Is it really possible for people to live healthily on nothing but corn?

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    This doesn't seem to be actually about sci-fi or fantasy. You might be better off asking on another SE (maybe Seasoned Advice, the cooking SE?) – Rand al'Thor Dec 18 '15 at 23:30
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    we are pretty much doing that now: in North America anyway ;) – NKCampbell Dec 18 '15 at 23:33
  • Health might be another good choice for migration. You can flag this question if you want mods to move it somewhere else. – HDE 226868 Dec 18 '15 at 23:41
  • I figured I could ask this question in the scifi.stackexchange because it's a nit-picking question about an SF movie. But we can move it somewhere else if that's more appropriate. – user24353 Dec 18 '15 at 23:45
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    Nope, can't live on just corn - not with any level of health, anyway. I think corn and beans make a complete protein (similar to the beans and rice combo). so you can't even get complete protein, and there's a host of vitamins and other nutrients that won't be there. An example - slaves were fed on corn, and pork or fish - it wasn't a healthy diet, but owners cheap enough to try sub'ing cottonseed for corn would have omitted meat if they could. And If someone modified it to a food stuff that needs nothing else - it wouldn't be corn even if it looked it. – Megha Dec 19 '15 at 10:55
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Real Life

Nutritionally speaking, the answer is no. If you tried to survive on a diet of nothing but corn you'd soon die of malnutrition, initially succumbing to diarrhea and mental deficiencies, depression, skin lesions and over a longer period of time, developing full-blown pellagra due to a lack of niacian/Vitamin B3. The best guess (based on pig studies) is that you'd be dead within 6-8 months and incapable of self-care within about 4 months.

That being said, you could stave off these complications by synthesising a simple niacin supplement, something that even a first year chemistry student should be able to accomplish with a $20 home-chemistry set so the short answer is yes, with a few vitamin supplements added to their diet, you could feed a family indefinitely on nothing but corn.


The world of Interstellar

Within the film you don't actually see them eating a corn-only diet.

  • Their nearest neighbour is growing okra.

  • At the ball game, Coop says that there'll be "candy and soda".

  • Coop is drinking beer which implies that yeast is readily available. Yeast would also supply the needed vitamins to stave off pellagra.

  • In the breakfast scene (with the broken lander) Coop is making grits which would usually require milk, an excellent source of Vitamin B3 and much-needed fatty acids. On the table we also see white sugar, brown sugar and pancakes.

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    As a proud son of the Deep South, I'm flabbergasted by your assertion that grits require milk. They do not. huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/24/how-to-cook-grits_n_3139307.html – Organic Marble Jan 4 '16 at 22:50
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    @OrganicMarble - I thought of that. And to placate you, I have a quote from the book - "Now, mostly grits. And without a lot of the things that made grits worthwhile—the butter, sorghum molasses, bacon for Chrissake.". So, how you gonna' make grits without butter, fella? – Valorum Jan 4 '16 at 22:54
  • De gustibus non est disputandum! – Organic Marble Jan 4 '16 at 22:56
  • @OrganicMarble - Dispute or not, cooking grits without some kind of fat means that you're just eating minced corn. – Valorum Jan 4 '16 at 23:05
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    @OrganicMarble Nectar of the gods? Don't you mean ambrosia? You don't drink your grits, do you? :-) – user14111 Jan 5 '16 at 4:49
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Corn (maize) is the main source of food in many societies. One can live for a normal human lifetime on a diet of mostly corn if the minority foods in that diet supply what corn lacks. It is the same with diets of mostly wheat, or mostly rice, or mostly potatoes, which have also been what countless millions of persons have lived on.

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