As (I hope) some of you have noticed, I have been away for awhile. Thanks to some fortuitous circumstances and undeserved kindness (thank you SO much, Chuck and Suzanne), I have spent much of the past three weeks in Portugal. Most of the time we were in the middle of nowhere, so internet access was a limited commodity, and American television was right out. So imagine my surprise when, having just connected cable at my new apartment, I turned on the Food Network to find this ad from the Corn Refiners of America.
Yeah, Mr. Smarty McHealthypants! There is nothing wrong with high fructose corn syrup; its made from F@$#ing CORN for Christ's sake! All natural and all American! What you got to say to that? Yeah, that's what I thought... Eat your popsicle, commie.
But seriously, what the hell? I see from Youtube that this spot has been out for almost two months — how'd I miss this? This one, and the second one I found on Youtube, got me pretty riled up. I mean... of course high fructose corn syrup is bad, right? It is the central raw material in our manufactured food culture, where real food is less common than the Frankenfoods that HFCS has made possible. It is also both a product of and a reason for our ridiculous domestic farming system, where farmers are rewarded for growing high-yield corn varieties over real, useful grains like wheat and barley. And the group's claim that HFCS is a "natural product" is laughable, as it is more heavily processed than any other nutritive sweetener out there, and requires the use of a genetically modified enzyme for its very production!
Though, to be fair, it is true that the most common form of HFCS has the same amount of calories as an equal portion of table sugar or honey, and it is pretty close in chemical structure to sucrose, minus a bond or two. Considering this, is it right to condemn HFCS as the source of our nation's health woes? If sugar were the cheaper alternative, would we not abuse that similarly? Is the popsicle zombie in the ad correct when she says that HFCS is fine in moderation? Is high fructose corn syrup just the whipping boy of an America that isn't willing to take responsibility for its own lack of willpower? Is anyone else overcome with an intense desire to run out and buy a jug of delicious Red Drink? I'm curious as to what you guys think. Please chime in and let me know if I'm drinking the wrong sort of Kool-Aid.