Saturday, March 7, 2009

The sticky business of high-fructose corn syrup

High-fructose corn syrup is in everything. So what's in the syrup?

Dear Vanessa,

I’ve been told that I should avoid high-fructose corn syrup, and yesterday I read that there is mercury in the syrup. Why would mercury be in a food product, anyway? And what’s the problem with corn syrup in general?

— Feeling Corny in the Heartland

Dear Corny,

There are many issues about high-fructose corn syrup, all of them connected to corn-focused industrial agriculture, a practice that is destroying our health and our environment.

Let's start with corn. How did we transform a native grain that sustained myriad cultures for thousands of years into a symbol of everything that's wrong with our economy, agriculture and health? (This will be an exercise in restraint for me. I will do my best to ignore that high-fructose corn syrup, or HFCS, originates in a simple corn field and focus on the complex problems surrounding this sticky, adulterated version of corn-stuff.)

So what’s the problem with HFCS? It is a highly processed, unnatural product, yet it is often sold under “all natural” labels. It is artificially cheap because of America's massive corn subsidies. And though it's calorie-rich, it's nutritionally impoverished. HFCS is also a significant cause of the obesity pandemic — just look at the way the rapid rise in obesity mirrors the rise in HFCS consumption.

Read More at Mother Nature Network

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