In Defense of High Fructose Corn Syrup

Has anyone else seen the commercials trying to boost the image of high fructose corn syrup?  A man and woman are picnicking in the park when she hands him a pop sickle which he refuses to take because of the high fructose corn syrup.  “Silly man, ” she says, “One little popsickle isn’t going to hurt you.  High fructose corn syrup in moderation isn’t bad.”  It’s Adam and Even all over again.

It is true that high fructose corn syrup, like most things, are perfectly fine in moderation.  Of course, the chances that popsickle would have been the only HFCS he would have consumed that day are slim.  That stuff is in everything from soda pop to ketchup.  It is comprised of completely empty calories, but it tastes so good.  Some could even argue that it has addictive properties.

The Corn Refiners Association or whoever is making those commercials must really feel threatened.  Michael Pollan’s book Omnivore’s Dilemma is really popular, and about a third of the book discusses how most of the North American diet comes from cheap corn in various forms as it is processed into high fructose corn syrup, various preservatives, and fed to most of the animals that we eat.  He also examines the links between corn  and our dependency on fossil fuels to process it and transport it.  Then there are the health issues involved with eating so much processed corn product.  There is also the economic and environmental havoc that was been caused when the government decided to encourage the excess growing of corn.

After reading Pollan’s book, it makes me wonder how much the  “Got Milk?” and “Beef:  It’s what’s for dinner”  lobbies have contributed to the pro-high fructose corn syrup campaign since the livelihood of industrial meat processing and dairy is just as dependent on corn processing.  So consider this a more fleshed out endorsement of the book than I gave on my reading list for January.  Those crappy commercials drove me to it.

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