A clever marketing campaign by industry backed Center for Consumer Freedom is trying to free high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) of its bum rap. Parents, dieters and health industry professionals have been “brainwashed” to think that HFCS is the cause of America’s obesity epidemic. Not so, says the group who hides the list of its funders. In newspapers, on TV, and on the web, HFCS is now “exonerated” from being the cause of obesity, by lack of evidence.
The campaign is part of a broader effort by the industry to ward off any limitations on their ability to sell us more and more junk food and “liquid calories” in the form of soda pop. Such efforts include increasing calls to tax sugary soft drinks and totally remove them from schools.
What you need to know:
High Fructose Corn Syrup is very similar to table sugar in its chemical properties and in the way it is absorbed by the body. So gram per gram they will have the same effect on you as sugar does.
The problem lies not in the syrup itself, but in how cheap it has become to manufacture a slough of sweetened snacks and drinks compared to the past.
A bit of historical perspective: Farmers have been receiving subsidies from the US government to grow corn for years. They have become so good at it that they began to create huge surpluses, even after selling corn to the entire world AND switching livestock feed from grass to corn.
What to do with all the excess corn?
Some smart dudes discovered about 30 years ago that through a chemical process, the sugars in corn could be separated from its other parts and be synthesized into a liquid syrup. Introducing HFCS. The beauty – gram for gram it costs half the price of sugar to produce. Woohoo!
Manufacturers started dumping HFCS into sodas, snacks, pasta sauces, and as many products as possible because (a) it made them taste good (b) they shaved a few dimes off their costs.
The early 1980′s are considered the time that obesity started to take off in this country. And that’s exactly when HFCS was unleashed into supermarkets.
And the rest is history.
What to do at the supermarket:
Try to avoid any food that has too much sweet in it. Humans are not supposed to consume so much sugar. Look for sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup and a host of other synonyms on the ingredient list. In many cases, sugar is scattered in several places along the list.
A good summary of the total sugar content in the product is in the nutrition facts panel. Remember – every 4 grams of sugar is equal to 1 teaspoon.
To play it safe, there are certain aisles just worth avoiding at the supermarket – snacks and beverages. You’ll save your health and a lot of money by just resisting the temptation to walk down those HFCS laden alleys.
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