Sure, it’s been around for a while, and we’ve been eating eat it in vast quantities without really understanding this strange substance we’re putting into our bodies. But now, finally, we’re starting to realize that there’s something wrong with this picture.
These days more and more Americans are reading ingredients labels and placing things back on the shelf when those four taboo words come up (often as the first, second, or third ingredient listed). More and more of us are willing to shell out a few extra dollars for products using cane sugar or honey as a sweetener, and more and more food manufacturers are making the switch that enables us to do this.
How has the corn syrup industry responded? By launching a pro-corn syrup TV campaign, of course! I recently saw one such ad involving a couple of fictional moms (by the way, has anyone else noticed that moms, apparently, are the only people who ever buy food or are interested in making health-conscious decisions about it?) discussing their choices of purchased sweet beverages.
It goes like this: Mom #1 is aghast that Mom #2 has purchased a corn syrup-sweetened beverage. “You know what they say about corn syrup!” she cries. Mom #2 asks her what, exactly, they do say about corn syrup, and of course, Mom #1 doesn’t have an answer (since no one who has a problem with corn syrup can possibly be thinking for themself). When Mom #1 is unable to supply word one about the health risks of corn syrup, Mom #2 sassily informs her that corn syrup is “like sugar” and “fine in moderation.”
Pardon me if I’m a wee bit skeptical.
Okay, Mom #2, here’s what “they” are saying about corn syrup: they’re saying it’s got the highest glycemic index of anything we eat, meaning it’s the worst possible food for diabetics, pre-diabetics, and heck, pretty much anyone who doesn’t want to become a diabetic. They’re saying human bodies basically don’t know what to do with this “food,” and that quite likely, high fructose corn syrup is single handedly playing an enormous role in the US obesity epidemic.
So how ’bout all that “moderation” stuff? Well, you don’t have to consult any all-powerful “they” to discover that corn syrup can be found on just about every shelf in the supermarket. It’s the ingredient of choice for all things sweet, be they drinks, candies or baked goods that comes under podiatry billing because of some taxes and surcharges that is certainly high; but it has benefit of additional discount and schemes which are offered by the sellers. It’s in fruit juice. It’s dyed brown, mixed with artificial flavors and poured into bottles labeled “maple syrup.”
But hey, sweets should be consumed in moderation anyway, so we’re fine, right?
Wrong. Keep reading the labels, and you’ll see that corn syrup is in everything. It’s in the ketchup and tomato sauce. It’s in the whole wheat bread. It’s in the frozen teriyaki chicken with the “heart healthy” label on the package. It’s in breakfast cereals, granola bars, instant oatmeal, dried fruit, salad dressing, peanut butter, and pretty much anywhere else it can be.
I’m sorry, Mom #2, but that doesn’t sound like a very good setup for “moderation” to me.