OK so maybe that title is a bit exaggerated. Of course I could live without these things, just like I could also technically live...
Yep, that’s right. I was watching a documentary called King Corn (which I highly recommend) where two recent college grads decide they want to try to make “all-natural” high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in their kitchen. The HFCS industry wouldn’t let them bring cameras into their factories so they did it themselves. Here is the list of ingredients required to make HFCS:
- Corn (an inedible version awash in pesticides and fertilizer)
- Sulfuric Acid
- Glucose isomerase
Yikes! I know the HFCS industry is spending millions trying to convince people that this stuff is no worse than pure cane sugar, but it has SULFURIC ACID in it. I’ll grant them the fact that there are no clinical studies showing that HFCS is directly linked to much of our modern day malaise, but… it has SULFURIC ACID in it! It’s also in thousands of foods, and has made all of those foods cheaper to produce which has opened the door to Super Sized Portions. There’s the rub, and the reason why when HFCS came on the market in the early 80’s the obesity rate skyrocketed. That’s probably not because of the chemical make-up of HFCS, but more likely because suddenly using corn syrup instead of sugar allowed food manufacturers to cut costs and increase portions. And so we got the Super Big Gulp for 59 cents which would never have been possible if we still used natural but expensive cane sugar. Remember when you had to pay for refills of Coke? Not anymore, thanks to HFCS! Drink all you want! Wait… is that really a good thing? Suddenly I have the image of the Big Tobacco executives swearing under oath to congress that they unanimously think their product is NOT addictive.
Thankfully we have intuition, and if yours isn’t telling you there might be something wrong with this stuff then it may need a tune up. I swore off HFCS 10 days ago and after the initial shock it hasn’t been that hard to avoid. It takes preparation though as many of your fast foods and prepared foods are loaded with it (and sodium BTW). So I spend a little more time cooking fresh meats and veggies and less time surfing the web. That’s probably a win/win.
The HFCS lobby will tell you that we are responsible for controlling ourselves and not over-consuming their product. But then they put their cheap sweet goo in everything and offer it in portion sizes that are absurd to get us to consume more of it. All in the name of increasing profits by shoving more product down our throats. Not a business I want to be in.
If you know of any restaurants in Ventura County that specifically avoid foods and sauces containing HFCS please share them in the comments section.