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Corn and You
September 9, 2008 12:16 PM   Subscribe

The Corn Refiners Association would like you to know two things. One: High Fructose Corn Syrup is just fine. And two: anyone who says differently is an ignorant jerk. posted by lunasol (166 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've seen a few commercials paid for by this lobby on TV. I wish I could just ship them a fat teenager holding a Big Gulp and refute them without doing any talking.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 12:18 PM on September 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


With a name like "High Fructose" and "Syrup" how could it possibly be bad?!
posted by DU at 12:19 PM on September 9, 2008


One lone flack named "cornrefiner" has shown up to defend his product in the YouTube comment threads.
posted by RakDaddy at 12:24 PM on September 9, 2008


Right. Anything that burns your throat , rots your teeth rapidly , and raises your glucose level through the roof is JUST FINE!
Have a coke and a smile.
posted by Liquidwolf at 12:24 PM on September 9, 2008


They do have a point that the harm is in its overconsumption, resulting from it being used to sweeten pretty much every processed food, as opposed to some inherently harmful characteristic of HFCS that natural sugars do not share.
posted by Brian James at 12:24 PM on September 9, 2008 [6 favorites]


Why is it that PR campaigns so often make me want to boycott a product that I, until that campaign, had previously enjoyed?
posted by Benjy at 12:24 PM on September 9, 2008 [11 favorites]


Don't get me started about frooktoze vs frucktoze.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:25 PM on September 9, 2008 [5 favorites]


It certainly cures hangovers though, I'll give it that.
posted by padraigin at 12:27 PM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Hey now, don't bring Coke into this. Coke-a-cola is fucking awesome.
posted by chunking express at 12:29 PM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


They do have a point that the harm is in its overconsumption, resulting from it being used to sweeten pretty much every processed food, as opposed to some inherently harmful characteristic of HFCS that natural sugars do not share.

Nevertheless, presenting people who seek to reduce/eliminate their (or their children's) consumption of HFCS as ignorant and hysterical is hardly ingenuous.
posted by davejay at 12:30 PM on September 9, 2008


So what are the facts? I ask this genuinely and humbly as a non-chemist and non-nutritionist. I've been looking into this issue casually for a while now and here's what I've found so far:

1. High Fructose Corn Syrup is called "High" Fructose because it's higher in fructose than non-processed corn syrup. Compared to sucrose, or table sugar, the fructose/glucose ratio is pretty much the same.

2. HFCS is cheaper to produce and transport, so it's used in more products and in higher quantities. The link to obesity is not inherent to HFCS, but lies in its volume of use.

3. Many groups say HFCS is bad for me, but never explain specifically why it's bad for me.

Can someone here help me out and give me a real, scientifically valid reason to avoid this stuff?
posted by rocket88 at 12:33 PM on September 9, 2008


Encouraging anyone to tolerate this stuff is immoral, They should be banning the shit. It's like saying drinking gin in moderation is ok. yeah it is,but you shouldn't encourage it.
posted by Liquidwolf at 12:34 PM on September 9, 2008


Hey now, don't bring Coke into this. Coke-a-cola is fucking awesome.

Or as my native peoples taught me in my youth, CoCola...

And yes, I agree that the problem is 'moderation', but like's been said, it's in freakin' everything! How amd I supposed to be moderate when it's in the 'meat' even?
posted by pupdog at 12:35 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Nevertheless, presenting people who seek to reduce/eliminate their (or their children's) consumption of HFCS as ignorant and hysterical is hardly ingenuous.
I think the commercials do not do that. I think they present people who do not have any facts at their disposal or any ability to muster an argument in favor of the things they are saying as needing to become better-informed. I think that is why I rather enjoyed them even though I am not going to go home and slather myself in corn syrup unless someone makes me an unexpected and generous offer in the next few minutes.

Also I agree with the commenter in the consumerist thread who said:
It would have been awesome if that woman whacked the other one in the face with the jug.
posted by Wolfdog at 12:35 PM on September 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


I hit this yesterday on my own, but I'll say it again here.

Don't be stupid, because the CFA certainly thinks you are. Know what you're putting in your body. And if you don't know, ask Dr Andrew Weil, nutritionist Michael Pollan and the Mayo Clinic.
posted by grabbingsand at 12:37 PM on September 9, 2008


It's like saying drinking gin in moderation is ok. yeah it is,but you shouldn't encourage it.

But...but...but...gin is wonderful. So junipery!
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:38 PM on September 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


It's ridiculous that it's in wheat bread. It's in damn near everything. That's the problem. I keep wishing somebody would come out with a complete line of products/stores/restaurants/foods that don't have HFCS in them.

I figure it's only a matter of time before they start pumping it into the water supply with some formulation that makes it palatable for kids and adults who don't drink water enough. And people will be dumb enough to say "but it tastes better now, lets leave it in there."
posted by cashman at 12:42 PM on September 9, 2008 [9 favorites]


rocket88: my (armchair) understanding is that, whereas a sucrose molecule is composed of a glucose and a fructose molecule, so eating regular sugar means you take in equal ratios of both monosaccharides, high fructose corn syrup is 55% fructose and 45% glucose. The claim is that this unequal ratio is handled differently by the GI and endocrine systems in a way that somehow may lead to obesity.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 12:43 PM on September 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


Can someone here help me out and give me a real, scientifically valid reason to avoid this stuff?

Not to suggest these are canonical, but here are three papers that suggest that HFCS is processed differently in the body and adversely affects the management of healthy blood sugar levels, and that increased consumption over the last 40 years has increased Type II diabetes incidence rates:

• Bray, George A; Samara Joy Nielsen and Barry M Popkin (April 2004). "Consumption of high-fructose corn syrup in beverages may play a role in the epidemic of obesity." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 79(4):537-543.

• Faeh, David; Kaori Minehira, Jean-Marc Schwarz, Raj Periasamy, Seongsoo Park and Luc Tappy (July 2005). "Effect of fructose overfeeding and fish oil administration on hepatic de novo lipogenesis and insulin sensitivity in healthy men." Diabetes. 54(7):1907-13.

• Elliott, Sharon S; Nancy L Keim, Judith S Stern, Karen Teff and Peter J Havel (November 2002). "Fructose, weight gain, and the insulin resistance syndrome." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 76(5):911-922.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:44 PM on September 9, 2008 [16 favorites]


Health Folks: Hey guys, look. High Fructose Corn Syrup is fine in moderation, but moderation for something like that is very small amounts and we're eating it in colossal amounts. We need to cut back quite a bit.

Corn Refiners: That's madness! It's fine in moderation!

Health Folks: Yes, it's fine in moderation. But we're not eating it in moderation so we need to cut b-

Corn Refiners: IT'S FINE IN MODERATION!

Health Folks: Yes, but we're not eat-

Corn Refiners: IT'S! FINE! IN! MODERATION!
posted by shmegegge at 12:45 PM on September 9, 2008 [115 favorites]


I figure it's only a matter of time before they start pumping it into the water supply with some formulation that makes it palatable for kids and adults who don't drink water enough. And people will be dumb enough to say "but it tastes better now, lets leave it in there."

Well, that would be better than drinking water "like from the toilet," right?

/Idiocracy
posted by Turtles all the way down at 12:46 PM on September 9, 2008 [8 favorites]


rocket88: Can someone here help me out and give me a real, scientifically valid reason to avoid this stuff?

Well, you should avoid eating sugary crap all the time, as people love to do. There are some processed foods where you're getting more sugary crap than you may realize, because this particular sugar can be used to help extend shelf life.

But yeah, I think the advertisements do a reasonable job of pointing out the fact that some people are running around acting like HFCS is some sort of evil while other sugars are perfectly fine.

HFCS is annoying not because it's inherently bad, but because it's cheap and ubiquitous.
posted by mikeh at 12:46 PM on September 9, 2008


From the Weil link:
HFCS contains 14-percent fructose, much more than regular corn syrup. I'm concerned that it has disruptive effects on metabolism, because the body doesn't utilize fructose well, and humans have never before consumed it in such quantity.

Of course, HFCS isn't solely to blame for the obesity epidemic. The AMA correctly pointed out that as consumption of HFCS rose, Americans were also consuming more calories (of all kinds) and becoming less active. All told, however, consumption of HFCS in the United States increased by more than 1,000 percent between 1970 and 1990, and a study published in the April 2004 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, concluded that Americans over the age of two consume more than 300 calories daily from caloric sweeteners, one-sixth of their average daily calories. HCFS may also promote weight gain because it behaves in the body more like fat than glucose, the blood sugar derived from other sweet foods. Some evidence suggests that fructose may disturb liver function, and unlike glucose, doesn't appear to trigger the process by which the body tells us it is full. What's more, in men (not in women) HFCS appears to elevate triglycerides, blood fats that increase the risk of heart disease.


So, according to this, it's quantity and the fact that HFCF is just plain bad for you in ways that other sugars aren't. Kind of shuts down CRA propaganda right there.
posted by doctor_negative at 12:48 PM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Well, you totally know that that same busybody stereotypical liberal (Short hair! Brunette! She's satan!) anti-HFCS mom drives a biodiesel Volvo, so I figure it's a wash for the corn lobby.

And that picnic commercial? How fricking phallic was that?
posted by Skwirl at 12:49 PM on September 9, 2008


Can someone here help me out and give me a real, scientifically valid reason to avoid this stuff?

IIRC, there was a study a while back showing that HCFS doesn't lead to the same level of satiation as the same calories of sucrose, so you tend to eat more of a thing sweetened with HCFS until feeling full.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:50 PM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


I've tried reducing the amount of this stuff I eat and it's next to impossible because it's in everything! Even stuff you wouldn't think needed sweetening (like rice milk) has HFCS in it.
posted by monkeymike at 12:50 PM on September 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


It's like saying drinking gin in moderation is ok. yeah it is,but you shouldn't encourage it.

Woman #1: (pours gin from giant jug into dixie cups)

Woman #2: "Wow, you don't care what the kids eat, huh?"

Woman #1: "NOPE"

Kids: "Oh choice they are giving us more gin again"

VO: "Gin."
posted by Greg Nog at 12:52 PM on September 9, 2008 [109 favorites]


Aha, beaten by doctor_negative. And sorry, I know it's HFCS.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:52 PM on September 9, 2008


I for one will encourage people to drink gin. Old Rak is excellent, if pricey. Plymouth is great. Miller's is worth drinking. And screw moderation. What are we, monks?
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:53 PM on September 9, 2008 [5 favorites]


Old Raj.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:54 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


HFCS is annoying not because it's inherently bad, but because it's cheap and ubiquitous.

Not all sugars are the same, and HFCS is not automatically safe by virtue of having the name "sugar" attributed to it.

It is possible there are deleterious effects from even "moderate" HFCS consumption.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:54 PM on September 9, 2008


Don't get me started about frooktoze vs frucktoze.

Okay. But they're both wrong. Not oze. Ose.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:54 PM on September 9, 2008


It's ridiculous that it's in wheat bread.

Yup. I spent an absurd amount of time in the bread aisle at my local Safeway looking for sandwich bread without the HFCS. Finally found a rye without it.

Whole Foods doesn't sell many products with HFCS. The house brand soda is made with cane sugar, for example.
posted by rtha at 12:54 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]




High Fructose Corn Syrup is made from corn!!! Oh my god, nobody told me. Sweet heavens why did they do this to me?
posted by nola at 12:55 PM on September 9, 2008


since people seem to be asking HFCS free list.

Also, HFCS may interfere with your Gin enjoyment.
posted by boo_radley at 12:57 PM on September 9, 2008 [6 favorites]


And screw moderation. What are we, monks?

The question is not "Are we monks," but "What kind of monks are we? Are we the nasty, no fun Benedictine style of monk, or the awesome Friar Tuck kind that gets hammered all the time?"
posted by shmegegge at 12:58 PM on September 9, 2008 [11 favorites]


Also, weirdly, Metafilter is hit #2 for "hfcs+gin".
posted by boo_radley at 12:59 PM on September 9, 2008


I keep wishing somebody would come out with a complete line of products/stores/restaurants/foods that don't have HFCS in them.

It's called Whole Foods and/or Trader Joe's.

I was going to buy the all-cane-sugar fancy root beer at Trader Joe's the other day until I noticed there were 42 grams or sugar in a bottle. 42 motherfucking grams of sugar! I don't care if they make th sugar from corn syrup or ground up pixies, that's a lot of sugar. So I bought a bottle of Gerolsteiner instead.
posted by GuyZero at 1:00 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Okay. But they're both wrong. Not oze. Ose.

The Frooktoze Spelling Council and Frucktoze Pronunciation Association think you are wildly misinformed and would both like to show this informative YouTube video to you.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:00 PM on September 9, 2008


Our products are great, just dont use so much of them! But...you know...still use them! In moderation! Even though we'll lose money!
posted by softlord at 1:00 PM on September 9, 2008


This seems like a good place to highly recommend Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma. It's all good, but his careful, reasoned dissection of the ecological disaster that is America's corn-based agribusiness system is particularly strong.
posted by gompa at 1:01 PM on September 9, 2008 [6 favorites]


Thank god it's not in beer. Or is it? Anybody know?
posted by stargell at 1:01 PM on September 9, 2008


They make candy specifically for diabetics with just Fructose for sweetener, saying it's safer. How is that the same thing that gives you diabetes is also going to be good for you once you have it?
posted by nomisxid at 1:02 PM on September 9, 2008


"They do have a point that the harm is in its overconsumption"

Exactly. Same with meth and booze.
posted by Ragma at 1:03 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


When the ads start featuring celebrities with high fructose corn syrup mustaches, we'll know we've lost.
posted by hifiparasol at 1:03 PM on September 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


It's called Whole Foods and/or Trader Joe's.

Yeah - It's time to start going there again even though it's a bit of a drive. It's either put miles on the car or fat on my rump.
posted by cashman at 1:03 PM on September 9, 2008


On a rooftop in Vegas, the Commissioner of the Corn Refiners Association points a searchlight toward a solitary cloud and fires up the Gillette-Signal.
posted by Damn That Television at 1:04 PM on September 9, 2008


yay! 3000 favorites for me! It's the first 2999 that are the hardest!
posted by shmegegge at 1:07 PM on September 9, 2008 [6 favorites]


It isn't really clear whether HFCS is worse than sucrose.

However, our overconsumption of both of these isn't good.
posted by mmagin at 1:07 PM on September 9, 2008


The reason HFCS is in everything in the US is because of tariffs that make importing sugar expensive. Coke and Pepsi switched from sugar to HFCS in the US in 1984, but in other countries these drinks are still sweetened with sugar. Corn products are artificially cheap in US due to government subsidies. Gotta love the free market system eh?
posted by binturong at 1:08 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


rocket88 writes "Can someone here help me out and give me a real, scientifically valid reason to avoid this stuff?"

Your genome has had 20 million years to adapt to whole fruits, 2-3 million years to adapt to meat, 5-10 thousand to adapt to pulses and cereals and milk as an adult, less than 50 years to adapt to large quantities of HFCS.

You've heard of plenty of people with allergies or intolerance to peanuts,milk, wheat gluten. You've heard of medical studies documenting the deleterious health effects of excessive meat consumption. Except for some very rare fruit allergies, you've never head of fruit being a problem for people.

The more recently something has been added to our diet, the more likely it causes problems, especially in large quantities.

Now, you may say that HFCS is "just like" fruit, but it's nothing like whole-fruit consumption, in terms of water, fiber, and the shear quantity of HFCS consumed.
posted by orthogonality at 1:10 PM on September 9, 2008 [7 favorites]


I prefer my corn refined into Wild Turkey, or as I call it, High Entertainment Head-butting Syrup.
posted by gordie at 1:13 PM on September 9, 2008 [19 favorites]


Dr. Weil has never impressed me as an "expert." The evidence about fructose is not yet well developed, but the corn refiners basically ignore any evidence of harm. Gee, I wonder why? Here is their propaganda site and here is a fun little description of just how HFCS is produced.
posted by caddis at 1:14 PM on September 9, 2008


To those lucky enough to have had a chance to taste and enjoy a Dr Pepper bottled in Dublin, TX. Nothing compares to a Dr Pepper made w/ pure cane sugar. Heaven if you can afford it.
posted by shockingbluamp at 1:15 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's insane how many products on the shelf have HFCS as the second or third ingredient. Go to any large grocery chain with a big selection of sliced bread, and try to find more than one brand that doesn't have HFCS in the top 5 ingredients. Breads without HFCS may/may not have a sweetener added, like molasses in whole grain wheat bread, but it'll be down at the very end of the ingredient list.

I make bread, bread doesn't need sugar, other than the tiny amount for proofing the yeast. Sure, some breads are intentionally sweet; Hawaiin bread and other sweet breads, but sandwich bread doesn't need a sweetening agent in the top five ingredients. It's a cheap bulk filler, and it's in almost every single packaged food.

Big agribusiness has a vested interest in getting the population to eat cheap, bulk, crap and HFCS is a ubiquitous way of doing it.

I remember reading that the rise of HFCS was a response to sugar subsidies, but I can't seem to find the research paper atm.

From an anecdotal standpoint; I try to avoid HFCS products because I noticed a huge spike in behavior issues with my son and niece when they consumed HFCS, but there wasn't a similar spike when they consumed cane sugar. Give either of them a "juice flavored drink" and they will be monsters 45 minutes later. Give them both a real juice and there's no behavior change. Same with cheap HFCS candy/snacks vs an apple, or carrot, or even good chocolate.

So, I try really hard to avoid buying products with HFCS, but I tell ya, if I didn't have the time to prepare real meals every day, and had to rely on stuff I could get on the table quickly, it would be almost impossible to avoid it.
posted by dejah420 at 1:16 PM on September 9, 2008 [5 favorites]


What would you calle moderation? Not all sugar is the same.
Glycemic Index (Criticism) Lookup
Glycemic Load
Insulin Index
posted by P.o.B. at 1:17 PM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


I figure it's only a matter of time before they start pumping it into the water supply with some formulation that makes it palatable for kids and adults who don't drink water enough. And people will be dumb enough to say "but it tastes better now, lets leave it in there."

I present to you CapriSun Roarin' Waters "water beverage"
posted by briank at 1:18 PM on September 9, 2008 [8 favorites]


OK...thanks for the links, most of which explain nicely why fructose is bad for me. But is HFCS (55% fructose) worse than sucrose (50% fructose)? My math says it should be 10% worse.
I'm left with the conclusion that it's the overuse...that a normal diet of 200 grams/day of sucrose has changed to a diet of 300 grams/day of HFCS, which is obviously not good. (All numbers are entirely made up, but you get the point)
posted by rocket88 at 1:19 PM on September 9, 2008


I dunno, I cut back my HFCS consumption and I lost like 10lbs in a couple of weeks. The Corn Refiners can yell at me all they want to, but I won't be spooning that crap by the throatfull now that women are actually looking at me again.

"Are you overweight? Having a hard time putting the fork down? Ask your physician if Libido is right for you. Libido will help you find the willpower to put down the ice cream sandwich, log off of World of Warcraft, and attend the Gym on a regular basis. Some users of Libido experience drunken barfights with jeolous boyfriends, a slight decrease in rational thinking, or the overwhelming urge to write angst filled song lyrics.

Libido, from Mother Nature Pharma"
posted by The Power Nap at 1:19 PM on September 9, 2008 [7 favorites]


point is, they are jerks, example:
renowned internet-jerk cory doctorow likens HFCS to the devil - http://www.boingboing.net/2006/05/23/is-highfructose-corn.html

fear, uncertainty, and doubt, it's no way to make a point.
score a point for ignorance.
posted by nmr8 at 1:20 PM on September 9, 2008


I've seen many excellent graphs showing that the percentage of obese and overweight people in the US was kind of stable with slow growth up until the late '70s (graphs like this). Now when I go to look for these graph at the CDC all I can find are graphs like this. It's probably because I am not looking in the right place.

When I look at these graphs I have to question what change occurred in the American lifestyle at the end of the '70s. Why is there such a dramatic increase in the girth of America at this point in time. The conclusion that it was solely caused the introduction of HFCS is a pretty big leap in logic and not supported by these graphs alone.

What these graphs do clearly show is that there was some sort of change in the lifestyle of Americans at this time and, I think, it's reasonable to conclude that the idea of individual moderation to solve this problem is as laughable as the idea of resolving cholera epidemics by increases in personal responsibility. Washing your hands, boiling your water, and cooking your food will all prevent cholera on a small scale but they just don't work very well on a large scale.
posted by 517 at 1:22 PM on September 9, 2008


"whereas a sucrose molecule is composed of a glucose and a fructose molecule, so eating regular sugar means you take in equal ratios of both monosaccharides, high fructose corn syrup is 55% fructose and 45% glucose. The claim is that this unequal ratio is handled differently by the GI and endocrine systems in a way that somehow may lead to obesity."

The fact that the body has to split the sucrose into component sugars before using it might also be involved in some way.

On the other hand, I'm living in a part of the world where sugar has always been something you get from sugar beets (=sucrose), and our obesity figures have been rising as well (even if I remember seeing reports that child obesity has levelled off the last few years).
posted by effbot at 1:29 PM on September 9, 2008


Michael Pollan is a nutritionist? I thought he was an author.
posted by fixedgear at 1:30 PM on September 9, 2008


Well, that would be better than drinking water "like from the toilet," right?

IT'S GOT WHAT PLANTS CRAVE!
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 1:30 PM on September 9, 2008 [8 favorites]


The reason HFCS is in everything in the US is because of tariffs that make importing sugar expensive. Coke and Pepsi switched from sugar to HFCS in the US in 1984, but in other countries these drinks are still sweetened with sugar. Corn products are artificially cheap in US due to government subsidies. Gotta love the free market system eh?

I can't believe it took that long for someone to mention this! For me, this is why I despise HFCS and the whole corn lobby - the artificial price control directly impacts peoples' health and jobs. Same principle behind the assholes pushing corn-based ethanol. Let's make fuel out of food; what could possibly go wrong?
posted by odinsdream at 1:31 PM on September 9, 2008 [6 favorites]


The health difference between HFCS and sucrose:              ||
The health difference between sucrose and protein or fat:       |                                              |

Any questions?
posted by callmejay at 1:34 PM on September 9, 2008


Don't worry, the sugar lobby will get back to fighting corn rather than Splenda. These things work themselves out.

Did I mention I love now being able to buy Mexican Coca-Cola made with sugar at the local supermarket? It's the real thing, made with sugar.
posted by ALongDecember at 1:35 PM on September 9, 2008


Where's the "Black-tar heroin is fine in moderation" YouTube video?
posted by fijiwriter at 1:35 PM on September 9, 2008


"It's made from corn"? Biodiesel is made from corn. That doesn't mean it tastes good.
posted by dsword at 1:36 PM on September 9, 2008


Also, cane sugar just TASTES better. Echoing the Dr. Pepper comment upthread, every time I go to Canada, I haul back so much "real" Coca Cola that the border people always give me funny looks if they spot it.

"Really, lady? THIS is what you're choosing to smuggle back in large quantities?"
posted by bitter-girl.com at 1:36 PM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Canadian Coke is made with real sugar? I'll have to start horking back mass quantities then!
posted by Turtles all the way down at 1:44 PM on September 9, 2008


Biodiesel is made from corn

No, it's not.

Ethanol is made from corn or any carbohydrate. It's just booze. They can add it to regular gas.

Biodiesel is made from oils from plant sources, like soy or canola (aka rapeseed). They mix it with regular diesel generally as it tends to dissolve rubber gaskets and such when used straight.

I suppose you could make biodiesel from corn oil but corn oil is a relatively expensive type of vegetable oil and I've never heard of anybody doing it.

Also, fwiw, every time you see HFCS on a label in the US you generally see "sugar" on the same food product in Canada. Which really doesn't make it any healthier. It's still just highly processed pure sugar as opposed to any sort of actual real food.
posted by GuyZero at 1:45 PM on September 9, 2008




Also not recommended, Turtles all the way down. I manage to make one trip's haul last at least a year or more unless friends and family raid my basement. Which they do. Because Canadian Coke is awesome.

And lemon-ier.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 1:46 PM on September 9, 2008


Oh, and while we're on a NAFTA Coke thing:

Not Martha compares kosher Coke, Canadian Coke and regular USA Coke.

Why did Coke switch to HFCS? I'll give you a hint:

1. Switch to HFCS
2. ???
3. PROFIT!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 1:49 PM on September 9, 2008 [3 favorites]



Hey now, don't bring Coke into this. Coke-a-cola is fucking awesome.
posted by chunking express at 3:29 PM on September 9


It is true that Coca-Cola is startlingly delicious, but only when purchased in the sucrose (kosher) variety. But as I have said before, the ne plus ultra of liquid refreshment is Diet Coke. And the care and consideration involved in selecting the proper vintage of Diet Coke cannot be overstated. As if that were not enough, when poured over a polished and pure crystal of ice, a Diet Coke undergoes transubstantiation, turning from mere bubbling beverage into a kiss from the goddess Aphrodite herself.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:56 PM on September 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm made from corn. Don't eat me.
posted by Dumsnill at 1:56 PM on September 9, 2008


There was a full page ad in the NY Times yesterday that was part of this campaign. Title: "Is it just another schmear campaign?" - with a picture of a bagel with cream cheese, and then copy at the bottom about how HFCS is fine in moderation.

I totally didn't get what they were trying to say about the bagel and cream cheese. There is no reason for bagels and cream cheese to have sugar OR corn syrup in them. But mass-produced ones probably do have HFCS (the cream cheese was kind of pink so implicitly flavored). If you know that, you probably aren't happy about it. If you don't know that, why are the HFCS people pointing it out to you? This is exactly why it's so hard to consume the stuff in moderation.

Or was it just supposed to be an illustration of their funny pun?
posted by yarrow at 1:58 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hey! Hey! Did you see how much fatter the HFCS mother than the anti-HFCS mother was?
*chuckle chuckle*
posted by hellslinger at 1:59 PM on September 9, 2008


I don't want to derail, or cause offense, but Diet Coke tastes like mud and shouldn't be called Coke. It should be called Diet Aspartame Crap Juice -- or something.

Coke (Classic) is the be all end of all Coke drinks. It is the greatest beverage ever made. It is one of the few things in this world I know I would be sad to see go.

Oh Coke, how I love you.
posted by chunking express at 2:01 PM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


@

I drink Diet Mountain Dew and Diet Code Red; or as I like to call it inside my head, Liquid Cancer. 100% artificial, 100% awesome!

Each can peels 3 days off of your life. Taste the nihilism!
posted by The Power Nap at 2:08 PM on September 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


I present to you CapriSun Roarin' Waters "water beverage"

wtf? That shit has HFCS AND Splenda in it? what the fuckin' fuck.
posted by ninjew at 2:09 PM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Gin should only be drunk by Dakotan care professionals.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 2:15 PM on September 9, 2008


health care professionals
posted by solipsophistocracy at 2:15 PM on September 9, 2008


Another Diet Mountain Dew fan here. I think it's the brominated vegetable oil that gives it that special kick.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:17 PM on September 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


"The reason HFCS is in everything in the US is because of tariffs that make importing sugar expensive."

Is that also why it's used in literally every product on the shelf in the grocery story (from wheat bread to--hell, I think it's even in bottled water), including foods that somehow still manage to taste just fine when you make them yourself from scratch without HFCS?
posted by saulgoodman at 2:18 PM on September 9, 2008


To properly instruct people on the subject of why they should fear High Fructose Corn Syrup, I plan on making a movie, it's going to involve some multi-ethnic gang members who are looking for the next big high; they discover that if they strap a camelbak full of HFCS to their back and I.V. it into their arm, they become nearly unstoppable. Like junkies who mix PCP with meth and maybe a bit of LSD just for fun.

Because they are juggernaut monsters now, they run around destroying the entire city and addicting every one they can to their high. The problem is that for some people, the HFCS reacts strangely when introduced directly to the blood stream, some just go crazy; jumping out of buildings (because they think they can fly, naturally...), where others believe that they are bullet proof and instantly take on the roll of cop killing anarchists.

Seeing the problem spreading from city to city, and fearing for the nation, the politicians realize that the only hope is to burn every corn field. (Because this is going to be a big budget action film, I'm thinking they'll do this from an orbiting death ray...)

The way I figure it, once people see how dangerous the stuff is, they won't want anything more to do with it.

Or they'll believe that if they mainline the stuff it will make them feel good. Either way, I get to make a movie with a death ray, so I win.
posted by quin at 2:30 PM on September 9, 2008 [6 favorites]


This seems like a good place to highly recommend Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma. It's all good, but his careful, reasoned dissection of the ecological disaster that is America's corn-based agribusiness system is particularly strong.

Synchronistically, I only just finished reading OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA a couple weeks ago -- a few days before I started seeing these ads. (Read this for a book club that met yesterday, and I mentioned this at the meeting and there was much discussion.)

The thing about corn syrup in moderation is that, if something is an ingredient in practically EVERYTHING ON THE MARKET, you cannot be moderate about it. The only way to be "moderate" about a ubiquitous ingredient is to not eat -- and THAT is the problem.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:33 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Canadian Coke is made with real sugar?

It's also made with corn syrup. Sorry to burst your bubble.
posted by oaf at 2:34 PM on September 9, 2008


I've had to give up Coke, and I stress HAD TO, because I was more of the "pry it from my cold dead hands" mentality. Utterly addicted. I quit it completely when I was pregnant with my kids way back because of the caffeine, but more recently I couldn't seem to do it. Knew I should, knew it would be better for me, couldn't do it.

I could drink more iced tea, but I just couldn't give up the Coke completely.

And then I got my thyroid stuff fixed, and went off Cymbalta, and now I simply cannot stomach the stuff. Coke literally makes me sick. So sick that even monstrous cravings are nowhere near worth going there. I don't know if it is the HFCS, but it's not just the caffeine, because I still adore iced tea.

I guess there is no point at all to my comment, though, since the only way it would be relevant for any of you is if you wanted to make yourself sick.

Carry on.
posted by misha at 2:39 PM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


SAUSAGE:

HFCS FREE

ALSO A WEAPON


SAUSAGE AND GIN DELIVERS PROTEIN AND WIN!

brought to you by the sausage council of Ginmerica
posted by Shepherd at 2:43 PM on September 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


For the record, I think HCFS is evil.

But if any mom ever came up to me and said "Wow, you don't care what the kids eat, huh?", I would punch her in the face.
posted by bibliowench at 2:54 PM on September 9, 2008 [5 favorites]


HFCS is bad too
posted by bibliowench at 2:55 PM on September 9, 2008


Postcard from Ginmerica.

Nothing against gin, really, I just like Hogarth.
posted by everichon at 2:56 PM on September 9, 2008


I can't stand high fructose corn syrup on its own anyway - I always have to mix it with a good helping of MSG.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:57 PM on September 9, 2008


I find the ignorance and attitude in this thread to be rather astounding. There are a significant amount of people that have an unfounded and illogical bias against consuming HFCS.

Currently, there is no evidence that shows a difference between HFCS, sugar, or other sweeteners with similar fructose/glucose ratios. The studies cited by Blazecock Pileon (1 2 3) all deal with consumption of fructose, not with consumption of HFCS in general. Since HFCS is 55% fructose/45% glucose while sucrose is 50/50, the differences are marginal*.

Don't get me wrong: removing simple sugars and carbohydrates from an average American's diet is probably the single best way to improve health. Without a doubt, the proliferation of HFCS has not been beneficial to the health of society. But as HFCS gets vilified by the media, companies simply replace the HFCS in their products with other sugars. This is actually detrimental to consumers as it increases cost with no health benefits.

Attacking HFCS in particular is asinine if we consume essentially identical products in it's stead. These ads attempt to address that fact.

*According to one of the cited studies, the average consumption of HFCS is 140kcal/day. If that is replaced with sugar, the difference is 36.75g of fructose from HFCS vs. 35g from sugar.
posted by christonabike at 3:13 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]



It's called Whole Foods and/or Trader Joe's.

I was shocked and disgusted to find that Whole Foods' 365 branded "Petite Diced Tomatoes with Garlic and Basil" had HFCS in it. And not a little, either. Unfortunately I only discovered this after I got it home and opened the can.

I'm not comfortable that we fully understand the way our bodies handle ultraprocessed products like this, so I'd rather err in being too careful than consume unnecessary(!) chemicals that might do harm in the long run.

But, most importantly, the stuff tastes nasty! And so many products that are sweetened with HFCS are way too sweet. Those canned tomatoes didn't even taste like tomatoes!
posted by sriracha at 3:26 PM on September 9, 2008


There is some serious misinformation floating about this thread that I think bears addressing.

...it's Bombay Sapphire that you should be drinking, not that Plymouth crap.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:27 PM on September 9, 2008 [5 favorites]


Pfft. I gave up HFCS in favor of vast quantities of sucralose.

Sweet, sweet sucralose.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:28 PM on September 9, 2008


Kind of ironic that Capri Sun has the Roarin Waters drink because they had ran a campaign online and through coupons that none of their drinks contained HFCS or preservatives. Oh wait... it still says that!Next time you go to the grocery store.. grab a box, take a look and HFCS is all over it.
I called the 1-800 number and got my money back. I hate false advertising.
posted by czechmate at 3:30 PM on September 9, 2008


It annoys me to see an ingredient list that looks like this: "WATER. HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP. CITRIC ACID. PHOSPHORIC ACID. SUGAR ALCOHOLS (SORBITOL). ASPARTAME" &c.

They already have sugars IN there. Why add aspartame? It reads, to me, like this:

"WATER. CANCER. HIGH CANCERY CANCER SYRUP. LEMON CANCER. MATCHHEAD CANCER. VOLATILE CANCER. (CANCER). ARTIFICIAL CANCER." &c.
posted by exlotuseater at 3:35 PM on September 9, 2008 [16 favorites]


[products] still manage to taste just fine when you make them yourself from scratch without HFCS?

Yeah, they taste "just fine" but with sugar in any form they taste much finer thanks to that old sugar-craving gene we inherited. Hell I think you could sell shit with enough sugar on it. Come to think of it, we do.

Slight derail but there's a similar situation with salt I think. Everything has salt in it. I was just at the grocery and noted that unsalted butter costs significantly more than salted butter which makes no sense to me. Did they have to take salt out of it?
posted by binturong at 3:41 PM on September 9, 2008


czechmate: Kind of ironic that Capri Sun has the Roarin Waters drink because they had ran a campaign online and through coupons that none of their drinks contained HFCS or preservatives. Oh wait... it still says that!

Found the nutritional facts on their website as well. Wow.
posted by amuseDetachment at 3:52 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


binturong, I think in that case it's partly because salt is a bit of a preservative. unsalted butter oxidises pretty quickly, so it may have to do with shelflife.
posted by lonefrontranger at 3:55 PM on September 9, 2008


I was just at the grocery and noted that unsalted butter costs significantly more than salted butter which makes no sense to me. Did they have to take salt out of it?

Economy in quantity, I think. There's a lot less unsalted butter on the shelf, than regular (salted) butter.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:07 PM on September 9, 2008


nomiskid:
They make candy specifically for diabetics with just Fructose for sweetener, saying it's safer. How is that the same thing that gives you diabetes is also going to be good for you once you have it?

Fructose is a monosaccharide that has completely nothing to do with HFCS, other than HFCS has been enzymatically altered to have fructose in it. Fructose has a glycemic index of 32; HFCS of 89. Fructose-sweetened diabetic products have been around for years.
posted by artifarce at 4:16 PM on September 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


>The reason HFCS is in everything in the US is because of tariffs that make importing sugar expensive.

I recall reading that the annual US demand for sugar is greater than the annual sugar production for the planet. Add to that farm subsidies for corn crops which in effect keep HFCS cheaper than sugar.

See also how feeding cows corn in feed lots changes the quality of the fat in the meat detrimentally....

Now try to envision the amount of money spent in the US to treat heart disease and diabetes and what you end up with is the big tobacco problem all over again.
posted by Fupped Duck at 4:17 PM on September 9, 2008


Unsalted butter: contains that much less salt which needs to be taken up with the more expensive milk solids to achieve the same volume? The other answers given so far make more sense though.
posted by artifarce at 4:17 PM on September 9, 2008


bread doesn't need sugar

Point of information: yeah, old school, hand made bread doesn't. But sugar has significant effects on the structure of the crumb and the keeping qualities of the loaf which are important in industrially-produced bread. Such chemically-leavened bread contains yeast only for flavouring reasons, because they don't want to take the time for full fermentation, and as a result all sorts of other things need to go into the bread to produce an acceptable loaf. And no one wants to buy bread that is stale or moulding in a couple of days.

If the manufacturer ("baker" doesn't seem very appropriate here) didn't use HFCS they probably would use some other sugar instead.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 4:34 PM on September 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


Who the hell totes Popsicles around in an Igloo cooler? Those things keep stuff cold, not frozen solid. That ought to have been one mushy, drippy Popsicle, and Mr. "I thought you loved me" should have rejected it on the basis of keeping his shirt clean rather than some ill-defined fear of food additives. Five seconds into this commercial and already I can tell that I'm not getting the unvarnished truth here, except the unvarnished truth that making ignorant passive-aggressive remarks will lead to you feeling like an idiot later.
posted by cirocco at 4:38 PM on September 9, 2008


Unsalted butter: contains that much less salt which needs to be taken up with the more expensive milk solids to achieve the same volume?

Not to derail, but I'd like to see some numbers on this, because this doesn't make much sense.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:40 PM on September 9, 2008


No, it's shelf life and production volume. The amount of salt in salted butter is negligible by volume.
posted by GuyZero at 4:46 PM on September 9, 2008


The numbers are 80 mg sodium for 10 g butter for salted butter, no measurable sodium for unsalted. That works out to about 3.6 g of pure sodium in a pound of salted butter which is I dunno how much actual salt. Not much.

Also, I don't think citric acid actually causes cancer. Maybe if you drown in a tub of the stuff.
posted by GuyZero at 4:53 PM on September 9, 2008


children of the corn
posted by hortense at 4:54 PM on September 9, 2008


Canadian Coke is made with real sugar?

Mexican Coca Cola is made with just sugar and it's awesome!
posted by The Light Fantastic at 5:04 PM on September 9, 2008


GuyZero: of course not. Neither does phosphoric acid. They provide a little bite, is all. But. My underlying point is that ingredient lists are ridiculous. I'm all about better living through chemistryTM, but when there's thirty ingredients in a food item, I tend to try to avoid them. I can deal with methylethylisothiazolinone or whatever in my shampoo (it's not actually in mine) but twenty compounds including two preservatives and three types of sugar and two artificial sweeteners . . . tends to put me off. The cancer bit is simply an unfunny joke.
posted by exlotuseater at 5:10 PM on September 9, 2008


The anti-HFCS woman in Ad 1 (the second link above) is played by Dagney Kerr, the actress who played Buffy's roommate at the beginning of season 4. She turned out to be a demon. So there's that.
posted by The Tensor at 5:11 PM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


cornholing is funny though.
posted by exlotuseater at 5:13 PM on September 9, 2008


The woman serving the drink in the second video should really know not to trust Buffy's freshman roomate. She's a demon.
posted by greta simone at 5:45 PM on September 9, 2008


binturong said: Slight derail but there's a similar situation with salt I think. Everything has salt in it. I was just at the grocery and noted that unsalted butter costs significantly more than salted butter which makes no sense to me. Did they have to take salt out of it?



No, but salted butter will last for freaking ever. Unsalted butter, not so much. Salt was added to butter back in the days when icemen still delivered blocks to your house and dairy men made deliveries. So, it's been at least two generations of folks who've grown up expecting that salted butter is what butter tastes like...ergo, significantly greater amounts of salted butter are manufactured.

Unsalted butter is generally the domain of those with hypertension and bakers.
posted by dejah420 at 6:06 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


The corrupt and sticky fingers of Big Sugar are behind it all. Free trade anyone?
posted by binturong at 6:26 PM on September 9, 2008


And no one wants to buy bread that is stale or moulding in a couple of days.

Then they deserve what they get. Bread is not a material that should last longer than a few days, unless frozen.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:30 PM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Damn - deja420 beat me to it - Salted butter is cheaper because it has a longer shelf-life.

Honestly, we always have both at home, and toast always goes better with the salted.

So - I was a hideous Coke addict as well - my personal story of how to break the habit is simple - switch to Coke Zero.... Ugh, 3 months later I've lost 20lbs...
posted by jkaczor at 6:38 PM on September 9, 2008


Husker Don't.
posted by porn in the woods at 6:42 PM on September 9, 2008


Unsalted butter is generally the domain of those with hypertension and bakers.

No no no no no no no!

The Cook Illustrated people (or as I like to call them, The Food Nerds) nearly always recommend unsalted butter -- the reason behind it being you should control the seasoning, not the butter. Not just for baking -- for any type of cooking.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 7:06 PM on September 9, 2008


Then they deserve what they get. Bread is not a material that should last longer than a few days, unless frozen.

Yeah, and once you've woken up in a little German village, walked down to the corner bakery and picked out some fresh baked bread for that day's fruhstuck, mittagsessen and essen, then gotten it home and torn into it with both hands, shoving big hunks in your mouth like some half-starved nomad because its the first real bread you've tasted in years, it's hard to go back to that homogenized, spongy food product that passes for bread back here in the states.

That's one thing (not the only thing, of course, but one thing) we definitely get wrong here.

If HFCS is to blame for there not being corner bakeries in the states anymore, then that alone is enough reason to ban the stuff, IMO.

And no one wants to buy bread that is stale or moulding in a couple of days.

I live in Tallahassee, Florida, the moldiest city in the world. Even the most processed bread on the shelf goes moldy within a couple of days here.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:08 PM on September 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


I've tried reducing the amount of this stuff I eat and it's next to impossible because it's in everything! Even stuff you wouldn't think needed sweetening (like rice milk) has HFCS in it.

I found the best way is to buy mostly raw foods, like veggies, grains, meat and fruit. It's sort of hard to avoid it in bread, but quality, locally baked bread can be had, though usually for a premium. I think it's worth it to spend a little more to eat good food.

If the manufacturer ("baker" doesn't seem very appropriate here) didn't use HFCS they probably would use some other sugar instead.

I buy bread baked in a local bakery. They don't use HFCS or sugar, at least not in the whole wheat. "Flour, whole wheat flour, cracked wheat, water, sea salt." That's it. Good stuff.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:13 PM on September 9, 2008


All anyone has to do is try to make their own lemonade to notice how much fucking sugar you need to put in it to make it even half as sweet as the stuff you buy in the store. All sugar is bad. HFCS is refined and a foreign substance to your body just by the fact that it hasn't been around very long. It probably has no idea what to do with it and stores it in the fat file will all the other junk.
posted by any major dude at 7:18 PM on September 9, 2008


When I look at these graphs I have to question what change occurred in the American lifestyle at the end of the '70s. Why is there such a dramatic increase in the girth of America at this point in time.

It's just that we all stopped swingin'.
posted by tristeza at 7:20 PM on September 9, 2008


Don't mess with the Children of the High Fructose Corn Syrup. He Who Drinks Behind The Rows will fuck you up!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:21 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I find the ignorance and attitude in this thread to be rather astounding. There are a significant amount of people that have an unfounded and illogical bias against consuming HFCS.

Well, I think HFCS has become sort of the target of people's reasonable stress and concern over the industrialization of agriculture, and how hyper-processed all our food seems to be now. And it doesn't help that it is in EVERYTHING. Or at least most processed foods.

I don't think it's an issue of ignorance at all.
posted by lunasol at 7:22 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


That's one thing (not the only thing, of course, but one thing) we definitely get wrong here.

Yes, it's the industrialization of not only the farm but the food itself. We also ruined beer, dairy and meat. You can still get quality, but it's far from the norm and is considered "premium" now, but mostly because we set our sights pretty low.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:22 PM on September 9, 2008


Woah, a "choice" reset? Decent!
posted by schoolgirl report at 7:23 PM on September 9, 2008


I've seen a few commercials paid for by this lobby on TV. I wish I could just ship them a fat teenager holding a Big Gulp and refute them without doing any talking.

Dude, I'm ready to go. Just send me the crate and some cash to cover the shipping and I'm in.
posted by mattholomew at 7:30 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Attacking HFCS in particular is asinine if we consume essentially identical products in it's stead. These ads attempt to address that fact.

*According to one of the cited studies, the average consumption of HFCS is 140kcal/day. If that is replaced with sugar, the difference is 36.75g of fructose from HFCS vs. 35g from sugar.


But -- it isn't the item itself that is the problem. It is the UBIQUITOUSNESS of the item that is the problem. It is the fact that the item is itself made so cheaply simply by virtue of the industry needing to do something with the overexcess corn that it created a market that is the problem. It is the fact that its ubiquitousness makes OTHER junk food so cheap, thus leading more people to eat crap food, that is the problem. It is the fact that the industry has lobbied to have itself added to food that wouldn't even have had sugar or sweetener added in the FIRST PLACE that is the problem.

You're right, attacking it is assinine when we would be consuming identical products in its stead. But attacking it is NOT assinine if we wouldn't have been consuming it in the first place, and yet there it is. It's not the HFCS in my popsicles that I object to anyway -- it's the fact that it is not ONLY in my popsicles, but is ALSO in my bread, my cereal, my soy sauce, my jerk sauce, my salad dressing, my crackers, my juice, my jam, my canned peas...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:33 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


If HFCS is to blame for there not being corner bakeries in the states anymore, then that alone is enough reason to ban the stuff, IMO.

Argh, it's not to blame for the demise of real bread. Folks' desire for the cheapest possible longest-lasting loaf is to blame. Bread that doesn't need a long rise = more throughput = better utilisation of your bread factory = increased profit/cheaper bread. As I said, if HFCS were banned tomorrow, the manufacturers would use some other form of sugar.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:43 PM on September 9, 2008


HFCS, at least the kind used as a straight-up sugar substitute, is 55% fructose and 45% glucose. Sucrose (table sugar) is half fructose and half glucose, weakly bonded together into one molecule.

That bond breaks down under even mildly acidic conditions. That means that by the time you drink a coke sweetened with sucrose (coke and most other sodas being acidic), it's likely broken down into its two component molecules anyway - i.e., the glucose and fructose are already separate. If they're not, they're separated in your stomach acid before your body really has to do any "processing" anyway.

So if sucrose is half fructose and half glucose, and HFCS is 55% fructose and 45% glucose, that's not that big of a difference, right?

Well, maybe. One theory goes that, since our bodies have evolved to handle those molecules in equal proportions, it doesn't quite know what to do with the extra fructose. I don't know if I buy that, but it's out there.

One problem is that, as has been said before, it's in damn near everything. It's impossible to moderate it because most of the time you don't even know it's going into your body. Another is that, from an economic and environmental standpoint, the processing HFCS has to go through is much more extensive than cane or beet sugar. Where are those resources coming from?

Yeah, there have been a lot of studies that show that HFCS has no ill effects on health or weight beyond those of cane sugar. But almost all of those have been sponsored by the people who are making money off of it, and there were plenty of studies supervised by the tobacco lobby that said smoking wasn't harmful. We ate that shit up, and everybody died of lung cancer.

More subjectively - for christ sake, when a huge lobby puts out an ad saying, "our product is perfectly safe!" isn't it almost always not? Are we seriously going to believe this crap again? When are we going to learn that corporations are always lying to us all the time and really have no stake in whether or not we all develop weird cancers and die?

Like The Power Nap said, stop eating so much HFCS and see if you lose weight. Maybe it's not any worse than sugar, but it's still making you a fatass.
posted by borkingchikapa at 7:44 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Take note of industries/companies that say their products should be used in moderation:

Alcohol, Tobacco, Fast Foods, High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Tell anybody anything?
posted by hal_c_on at 8:33 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Take note of industries/companies that say their products should be used in moderation:

Alcohol, Tobacco, Fast Foods, High Fructose Corn Syrup.
, World of Warcraft
posted by mattholomew at 8:57 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


binturong said: Slight derail but there's a similar situation with salt I think. Everything has salt in it. I was just at the grocery and noted that unsalted butter costs significantly more than salted butter which makes no sense to me. Did they have to take salt out of it?

Weird. There's a few things I'll only buy at a "bulk" store like Smart & Final, and one of those is butter. It's currently about $2.25/lb there, compared to $5-7 and up at local grocery chains.

A chef/baker friend of mine insists that between salted and unsalted butter from the same dairy the unsalted butter is of higher quality than salted butter, because they can mask off tastes in the salted variety.

That might explain why the unsalted stuff is more expensive in retail. But the Smart & Final butter is general $0.10-0.25 cents cheaper per lb than the salted stuff.

I did a taste test with this particular butter on toast and I think the unsalted stuff tastes better (and cooks better, in general) even if I sprinkle a little salt in it to try to compare them both salted.

Dejah420 said: No, but salted butter will last for freaking ever. Unsalted butter, not so much. Salt was added to butter back in the days when icemen still delivered blocks to your house and dairy men made deliveries. So, it's been at least two generations of folks who've grown up expecting that salted butter is what butter tastes like...ergo, significantly greater amounts of salted butter are manufactured. Unsalted butter is generally the domain of those with hypertension and bakers.

I did not know that. Thanks! I was wondering if my unsalted butter was going off faster.
posted by loquacious at 9:19 PM on September 9, 2008


Re-railing slightly: I try avoiding HFCS, too - as well as transfats, partially hydrogenated oils and other needless additives in general. But I have a terrible junk food habit. When I can manage to avoid said crap and eat right I easily lose weight that I need to lose without modifying anything else about the size of my diet or my exercise regime. And I feel better. And I don't get weird issues like heartburn, or headaches.

Or - perhaps most notably as related to some of the anti-HFCS links in this thread pointing out how HFCS seems to mess with appetite regulation - I don't get extreme hunger pains and nearly as much pointless "munchie" activities.

*ponders if that effect is a leveraged and known feature in the snack food realm*

"Here, have a muffin. What's that? You feel even hungrier? Go ahead! Have another! Two whole muffins, with genuine dried apple bits died purple and soaked in fake blueberry flavor! Oh... Oh yes, you can have a third. You're ravenous. By all means, feel free!"


More and more it seems like the best "diet" is simply something like "Natural, Fresh, Simple, Local." It doesn't have to be vegan, but it shouldn't be fat/animal-centric. It just shouldn't come out of a bag, box, can or bottle. It can be plain or fancy, simple or stupendous - whatever suits your time budget, but it shouldn't come from a factory.

And you know what? That's fine. All that crap that comes in packages from factories isn't anywhere near as good as the real thing. Really, now. I challenge any and all to name one thing that comes out of a factory that's better tasting or better for you than the real thing. Well, one thing that isn't a Twinkie or can of SPAM.

What's the real thing? Lemonade from lemons, sweetened with honey or perhaps real sugar. How about a blueberry pie? Which one do you want, the clammy, chewy store bought one in a box or the one made out of whole blueberries and a hand-rolled crust? Are canned peas better tasting than ones fresh from the pod? Do you really like Dinty Moore stew or would you rather have a nice homemade stew?

These factory-foods compete with the real thing with these additives. The only benefit to this way of doing things is for profit. At the expense of both your taste buds and your health. Faux-food now uses a million tricks and a million patents to make these pabulum palatable.

You say you don't have time? How much is your time really worth, to you? How many seconds are there in your life? Given that time, what do you really want to eat? How do you want to live? What kind of world would you like to have? Because all of those values and systems and ways are related to each other.

What this modern world needs is food gardens everywhere. We need to cover our greenbelts and window boxes and back yards and spare lots with food. It doesn't have to be factory farming or monoculture or precise, orderly rows. If you plant more places with less concern for profit and ownership you don't have to be so concerned about extreme yield. It can be wild, and coexist with weeds and pests. Make a bounty for the whole planet, from the smallest virus to the dominant apex predator - us. Plant everywhere and encourage the biodiversity - give a large share of energy back to the environment both big and small.

Along with this we need community kitchens and shared food stores. Speaking from a lot of real-world personal experience between campouts, festivals and community/communal living situations, when there's a community kitchen a lot of beneficial synergy happens. In a healthy community kitchen, you can drop in for a healthy handcrafted meal or snack almost any time. There's increased efficiency and buying power - bulk stores last longer and feed more people. A wider variety of ingredients and seasonings and utensils are available. Even energy costs are lower, particularly when combined with locally produced goods that aren't shipped all over the planet, containerized at great energy cost for the purposes of (needless, really) preservation and branding.

And it wouldn't even have to be some kind of pointlessly mandated socialism. Given even something as small as supplemental urban gardening and given workable community kitchens (of various sizes, as needed) - and given what I've seen in communal kitchens - it just ends up as a nice, tasty blend of democracy, socialism and creative anarchy.


And the main obstacles to doing this kind of thing are mostly zoning laws and people's attitudes towards ownership of food. And both problems are solvable. Our zoning laws are growing terribly outdated and draconian, better suited for a different age. Our attitudes towards ownership of easily shareable resources like food, energy, transportation and housing could also likely use adjusting.

We could have a bounty. No, really. It would be really easy, actually. Factory farming and factory foods isn't efficient at all. Here, check this out: Nearly one half of food produced in the USA is wasted. Why? How much biomass and energy is that? How much wasted oil and coal per year? How much fuel would it have made?

Is that idealistic enough for you, or too much for you? There's even more upside. Can you imagine a whole planet on that kind of program? Would war even be feasible or likely?
posted by loquacious at 9:20 PM on September 9, 2008 [14 favorites]


Motherfructors.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:08 AM on September 10, 2008


High GI value, more readily converted to fat, doesn't stimulate the release of insulin, oh, and it tastes like crap.
posted by ewkpates at 1:03 AM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's ridiculous that it's in wheat bread. It's in damn near everything.
But in countries where HFCS is not used, sugar (or some other kind of syrup) is in everything (including bread). And hey, we also face an obesity epidemic!
posted by davar at 1:20 AM on September 10, 2008


But in countries where HFCS is not used, sugar (or some other kind of syrup) is in everything (including bread).

Source, please?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:35 AM on September 10, 2008


>>But in countries where HFCS is not used, sugar (or some other kind of syrup) is in everything (including bread).

>Source, please?

Not necessary. This is utter fucking fabrication, unless one limits the range of one's view to manufactured, packaged food. Which, in many places, approaches the dietary hegemony it enjoys in America, but in most places, does not.

Stupid fucking Americans (and Canadians, and Brits, and...) Just don't eat food that comes in a bag, a box, a bottle or a can, and you'll be OK. You'll be just fucking fine.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:48 AM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


um hello, its not necessary to add sugar to flour to make bread. Traditionally Bread is made with just Flour Water and Yeast and still is in most of Europe.

and I find the whole Cocke fascination rather disgusting. I don't drink the shit anymore.

Next time you buy a Coke product, do some research on Coca-Cola's exploitation of developing countries.
posted by mary8nne at 5:29 AM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


>>But in countries where HFCS is not used, sugar (or some other kind of syrup) is in everything (including bread).

>Source, please?

Not necessary. This is utter fucking fabrication, unless one limits the range of one's view to manufactured, packaged food

We were talking about manufactured, packaged food! I responded to someone who said HFCS is in everything, even in bread and that that was ridiculous. In Europe, HFCS is not widely used, but sugar is used instead, in the same products that HFCS is in in the US (though I do think the US is somewhat worse, we are often 10 years behind the US with those things).

I did not mean that what I said goes for all countries. What I meant to say is: "there are countries where HFCS is not used, but where they use sugar everywhere. Those countries also face an obesity epidemic, so it is unlikely that there is something specific to HFCS that causes the epidemic and more likely that you just eat too much of it, just like we eat too much sugar".
posted by davar at 5:45 AM on September 10, 2008


OK then, I apologize. I wasn't really paying that much attention, to be honest.

And you know, looking for an excuse to call people stupid, because I'm a bit of a bastard that way.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:47 AM on September 10, 2008


...it's Bombay Sapphire that you should be drinking, not that Plymouth crap.

No. Not piney enough.

posted by Pax at 6:17 AM on September 10, 2008


and I find the whole Cocke fascination

Sir, no one has Stated that they are Fascinated by your Cocke.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 6:54 AM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Stavros and Davar: I apologize as well, as I'm not completely and fully framing my argument.

Yes, it's possible that other countries use sugar in their processed foods as frequently as HFCS is used here. But -- I doubt that those processed foods are as CHEAP as they are here, or come in as big a PACKAGE as they do here. Corn syrup can be exchanged for sugar in taste -- but not in price.

I was talking with someone who vividly remembered, from when he was a child, the time that suddenly the two-liter bottles of soda suddenly had their prices drop to a dollar a bottle, and how excited he'd been because cool, now the family could afford to get MUCH! MORE! SODA! and do so MUCH! MORE! OFTEN! That's also about the time that the standard, "individual" size "I'm gonna grab a bottle of Coke for myself at the 7-11" bottle started growing from 8 ounces to 20 ounces. The PRICE stayed the same -- or even dropped -- but the SIZE grew, and people rose to the offer. Very few kept their appetite in check when there was now this big bottle of Coke they could have. (Seriously -- how many people do you know who get one of those "individual size" 20-ounce bottles of soda, drink only half, and save the rest for later? Yes, it does say "2 servings" on the nutrition information, but how many people do you know that ACTUALLY follow that advice as opposed to drinking the whole thing?)

And the reason that happened? Sodas started using HFCS instead of sugar. It was cheaper.

Not that businesses don't have a right to cut costs. But them going cheaper meant that now it was cheaper for a family to buy a two-liter bottle of Coke to put in the fridge rather than buying a half-gallon of orange juice. And it also meant the little 8-oz bottles disappeared and bigger bottles were the norm.

And THAT is why so many people are going with processed food -- because HFCS makes so much of it the cheaper alternative. If you have a big family and are living on a minimum wage, you're gonna be thinking quantity before you're thinking quality. You're going to be reaching for stuff that's cheap and keeps a long time. You're going to be reaching for -- processed food, which is cheap because it's loaded with HFCS.

Yeah, if we stop using it and use sugar instead, the junk would be just as nutritionally junk -- but it would also be MORE EXPENSIVE junk, which would make people think twice and decide, "....damn. I'll just get an apple instead."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:33 AM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


HFCS turns out to be worse than other sweeteners. So, eating table sugar would be an improvement here... an improvement. Less heart disease, less fat, less diabetes.

That's the point I feel has been overlooked.
posted by ewkpates at 7:44 AM on September 10, 2008


ewkpates: That's exactly the claim I'm looking for proof of. Lots of folks here are claiming that a gram of HFCS is significantly worse than a gram of table sugar. On the surface, that claim doesn't make sense to me, since they're chemically so similar.
posted by rocket88 at 8:17 AM on September 10, 2008


There is a significant Chemical difference between HFCS and Sucrose.

Wikipedia
posted by mary8nne at 9:02 AM on September 10, 2008


Personally, I don't avoid HFCS because I know of any specific risk. I just use it as sort of a shortcut; a signifier indicating how processed something is.

If something contains HFCS, it's probably a processed, food-like product chemically engineered to maximize profits, which means using sweeteners and thickening agents to resemble the original food item that it claims to be.

If you find something without HFCS (or its cousin corn starch), it's a sign that the producer put some thought into their product beyond "how can we make this as cheaply as possible."

Since The Omnivore's Dilemma came out, some manufacturers have started changing their ingredients to use sugar instead of HFCS, while leaving everything else the same. Unfortunately, this pretty much misses the point, and just makes it harder to distinguish between engineered products and food made with real ingredients.
posted by designbot at 9:05 AM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


@Rocket88:

from Wikipedia:

Sucrose is a disaccharide composed of glucose and fructose linked together with a relatively weak glycosidic bond. A molecule of sucrose (with a chemical formula of C12H22O11) can be broken down into a molecule of glucose (C6H12O6) plus a molecule of fructose (also C6H12O6 — an isomer of glucose) in a weakly acidic environment[citation needed]. Sucrose is broken down during digestion into fructose and glucose through hydrolysis by the enzyme sucrase, by which the body regulates the rate of sucrose breakdown. Without this regulation mechanism, the body has less control over the rate of sugar absorption into the bloodstream.
posted by mary8nne at 9:09 AM on September 10, 2008


And you know, looking for an excuse to call people stupid, because I'm a bit of a totally hilarious bastard that way. FTFTWBBQ

it's Bombay Sapphire that you should be drinking, not that Plymouth crap.

We don't drink Bombay Sapphire since we discovered it is made by the evil Bacardi. No great loss.
posted by asok at 9:14 AM on September 10, 2008


(And, yes, Trader Joe's is the place to go if you want to avoid overly-processed foods without paying a fortune. I was looking for barbecue sauce at the local supermarket. They had 15 - 20 different options, including some fancy, expensive "artisanal" brands with quirky, indie packaging. I couldn't find a single one that didn't have high fructose corn syrup as the first or second ingredient. At Trader Joe's, the first bottle I picked up had the same ingredients you would use if you were making barbecue sauce at home (no corn-based products). It was 99¢, and it tasted great.)
posted by designbot at 9:16 AM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


OK, mary8nne, thanks for the link. I'd still like to know how significant that difference is. It seems sucrose will break down into glucose & fructose quite easily and quite soon after ingestion, since the stomach is a nice acidic environment. Is there any evidence that the body doesn't break down sucrose into its component sugars completely?
The wikipedia article also notes that honey is a glucose-fructose mix (of monosaccharides, not entirely sucrose) even more similar to HCFS. That would seem to complicate the matter.
posted by rocket88 at 9:26 AM on September 10, 2008


So I idly checked the ingredients on my breakfast this morning. There's HFCS in yogurt, which seems pretty odd to me.
posted by boo_radley at 9:52 AM on September 10, 2008


If you like your gin piney, try Junipero. It is delicious, and not made by a giant multinational corporation. But I don't know if they use HFCS.
posted by rtha at 9:53 AM on September 10, 2008


Trader Joe, or "St. Trader Joe" as he will inevitably be known to future generations, is a saint. His stores have kept me alive on decent food for years while I've sojurned deep in the heart of Los Angeles.

There's pretty much a direct inverse correlation between the rank of HFCS in the ingredient list of a food and the overall quality of the food.
posted by mullingitover at 11:06 AM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


um hello, its not necessary to add sugar to flour to make bread. Traditionally Bread is made with just Flour Water and Yeast and still is in most of Europe.
You forgot salt. And you are right that this bread is still made here, but if you buy bread in a supermarkt or regular bakery in the Netherlands, it will almost always contain added ingredients, like "bread improvement product". Yeah really, that's what it says on the ingredients label. Nobody knows what's in it.

The sugar in bread thing is interesting. It depends of course on how you define "traditionally", but many older home baking recipes that I know have you add sugar to yeasted bread, because dried yeast used to be less active, and it needed something sweet to feed on (I think you could also just let it rise much longer, but people back then did not see a problem with sugar I think). Nowadays, we have much better yeast and sugar is unnecessary, but old school bakers still often add sugar to bread because it gives a better crust.

And I always wonder what people mean when they say something is true "in most of Europe". I really don't think Poland, Norway, Germany, Spain, the UK and Greece have much in common that they don't also have in common with the US.

All that said, I do agree, like I said before, that even though sugar is overused here (I only wish it were as expensive as some of you think it is) as well, it is worse in the US and I am afraid that we are headed in that direction also.
posted by davar at 11:26 AM on September 10, 2008


There is a significant Chemical difference between HFCS and Sucrose.

No one here is denying that there is a chemical difference between HFCS and sucrose. What is under debate is whether that difference is nutritionally significant.

Without this regulation mechanism, the body has less control over the rate of sugar absorption into the bloodstream.

Note the Wikipedia article gives no citation for this assertion.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:11 AM on September 11, 2008


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