Ok. This could be considered trolling because I know there are some very passionate people out there on this subject… and I’m just not a fan of it. I want to talk about the evils of High Fructose Corn Syrup! (or the lack thereof) I’ll try to keep this as light-hearted as possible because people are gonna not like the fact that I’m not jumping on the whole anti-HFCS bandwagon.
So many people are railing against corn syrup like it is the work of the devil himself. Guys. It’s sugar. And guess what? Sugary foods are not good for you anyway, whether they use HFCS or plain old-fashioned cane sugar. It is really easy for us to buy into mob mentality and pick up our pitchforks, but I think there is something going on here that has nothing to do with our health.
I’ve studied on this objectively (well more or less) for quite awhile only to find it inconclusive at best. If you google “High Fructose Corn Syrup” you get inundated with press about how horrible it is for the human body. Lots of “so-called” expert nutritionists saying things about how the body processes it differently and how it contains poisonous Mercury levels and how it is responsible for excess weight gain and organ failure and bone deterioration and mental illness and cancer and heart disease and the bubonic plague. Ok… maybe I exaggerate a little. But most of these claims are very vague in nature saying things like: “recent studies show” and “experts agree”. Ok. I’m a scientific thinker. What studies and what experts? I wanna see some of these results. I wanna know the controls of the experiments. I wanna know if this is just a line… because it’s making people crazy.
The only concrete studies I’ve seen are done by college students who are fishing for a predetermined result. For example, Princeton recently did an experiment where they stuffed rats full of HFCS and table sugar. The High Fructose Corn Rats got fatter. Ok. Now we know where the R.O.U.S. comes from: corn sugar! (Although I don’t really think they exist) But there are still lots of questions. How large were the rats to begin with? Were they equivalent in age? Did they have the same metabolic rate? Did they get the same amount of exercise? In the end, experiments like this are in a vacuum and do not prove the utter horrors thrown at us concerning corn syrup.
Here is the one thing I’ve found to be fairly consistent in the studies. HFCS is less filling than table sugar. Therefore, people tend to eat more of it. Which can, in turn, make them fatter. Ok I can concede that. Just push away from the table and go get some exercise! This point alone doesn’t make HFCS the scourge of the planet. The bottom line is there simply has not been any real evidence produced to support the wide-spread panic High Fructose Corn Syrup has against it.
“Gram for gram, table sugar and high fructose corn syrup are equal in calories,” says Tanya Zuckerbrot, RD, a New York City-based nutritionist. They are also equally sweet. And both consist of two simple sugars — fructose and glucose — in roughly the same proportions (though the two sugars are merely blended together in HFCS, versus chemically bonded in sugar). Your body breaks down both products in virtually the same way, says Michael F. Jacobson, PhD, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. He adds, “There’s no evidence that high fructose corn syrup is worse than sugar once it’s in your body.” – Jennifer Goldstein, MSNBC
So why is this such a big deal? I have a paranoid idea. And it has nothing to do with health. So you ready? Here’s my conspiracy theory. It all goes back to socialism. Yes, I said socialism. Let me explain.
First a quick note on how socialism works in a free society… it doesn’t. But some people in power want it anyway. But they want you to ask for it. Socialism relies on government distribution. In a free market, people get their goods and services from companies. These companies are started by those enterprising enough to know if they produce goods and services which are in demand, then they can make money from it. They invest, build, grow, work, and sell. As they grow they need workers so they hire. This is what makes a capitalistic economy work. This goes in direct opposition to socialism. In order for socialism to work, the government needs to hinder capitalism so it can control the distribution of the goods and services.
So what does this have to do with sugar? Food products contain sugar and in our indulgent society… lots of it. So the government goes after that commodity (which they did). In the US, the Department of Health has imposed production restrictions on domestic cane sugar. In addition there are import tariffs specifically on foreign sugar imports. This raises the cost of sugar in the US higher than anywhere else in the world. When the cost of materials rise, the food producing corporations must either raise their food prices (and the public suffers) or lose money (which means downsizing and people lose jobs). So guess what the government happens to provide? They provide subsidies on U.S. corn. Which means corporations can afford corn and lots of it to process into sugar and keep the business going.
Next step… start rumors about this new corn sugar. Where did the HFCS scare begin? Does anyone even know? At this point, it doesn’t really matter. The damage is done and corporations are losing sales and scrambling to recover. Suddenly they have to start eating the cost of sugar and advertising, “No High Fructose Corn Syrup! We promise! Our Product Won’t Kill You Anymore! But Be Warned, Our Competitor Still Uses It!” (hence the photo of Post Shredded Wheats above).
Next: demonize the corporations who are producing it… “They don’t care about you! They just wanna make an extra buck!” Frankly, I’m surprised Michael Moore hasn’t produced a propaganda piece about how evil the farmers and food corporations are. “They’re just using HFCS to make the public fat, unhealthy, corn syrup addicts so they can continue to get rich!”
The goal: if the food producing companies fail, government will need to subsidize it even more. Soon, the government lovingly controls your supermarkets… just like in any good socialist republic. And thus ends my conspiracy theory.
Recently there has been some backlash to the whole anti-HFCS debacle. I’m now finding websites saying “Is it really that bad for you?”. The Corn Refiners Association is fighting back and has produced TV commercials and the website: CornSugar.com.
My advice to consumers: Sugar in excess is bad. Period. Eat healthier and exercise 15 to 20 minutes a day. Then you can indulge the occasional soda whether it is sweetened with cane or corn. Support capitalism. Buy products and create jobs… because the government sure can’t do it.