08 September 2008

On the evils of HFCS

I saw a commercial the other day, produced by a pro-farming lobby firm about high fructose corn syrup.  It features a guy and a girl, on a blanket, in a park, sharing a picnic.  The girl pulls out a Popsicle, and offers the guy a bite.  He declines.  She then offers him two bites, and he responds by saying, "I thought you loved me."  

"I do." she says.  

"Then why are you trying to give me something that is full of high fructose corn syrup?" he asks, all plaintive.  

"What's wrong with corn syrup?" she asks.  

He flounders around for an explanation, and she gives him a rapid fire litany of facts about HFCS, that it has the same number of calories as sugar or honey, it isn't bad for you, everything in moderation, blah blah.

If you hadn't known before that second that the commercial was produced by some corn conglomerate, you did at that point. *eye roll*  But they are kind enough to put the words on the screen at the bottom, at the end of the commercial.  

Sure, HFCS probably does have the same number of calories as honey or sugar.  And if HFCS was the ONLY sweetener in that Popsicle, it wouldn't be as bad.  But the problem is that there is sugar, HFCS, fructose, and sucrose in a whole lot of sweet treats.  You're getting sugar on top of sugar, and would you like more sugar with your sugar?  Plus, HFCS has been refined ad nauseum, and is a pretty far removed thing from the cornfields of Iowa and Oh-hia-ia.  

What is making us fat, America?  Soda, processed sugars, fast food, gargantuan portion sizes.  Guess what is in the average can of soda produced and bottled here in the US?  HFCS.  And sugar.  And at least one or two other sweeteners.  

Guess how I lost a whole lot of that 43 pounds?  I didn't eat anything that had HFCS in it.  I read labels, obsessively.  I put it back on the shelf in the supermarket if HFCS was in it, I asked for ingredient lists at my favorite restaurants, I searched foodie websites to see what has lots of corn syrup.

Granted, I did a whole lot of other things, too.  Worked my tail off (literally!) in the gym.  Controlled my portions.  Removed a lot of the processed, prepackaged stuff from my kitchen and my life.  Focused on fresh veggies and fruits, not fruit juices and canned gunk full of salt.  Avoided fast food as much as possible.  Denied myself desserts and didn't take every. single. opportunity. presented to indulge my sweet tooth.

Is HFCS dangerous?  I dunno.  I do know that as a conscious consumer, I can (and do) choose to not eat it.  But don't tell me that it is as good for you as honey is.  I know better.  You do, too.

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