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High fructose corn syrup commercial on Food Network?!?

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Has anyone else seen this freaky commercial from some "corn growing organization" ? It's a feeble attempt to make HFCS seem OK. Totally weird.

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  1. And how is HFCS not ok?

    Don't point me to all the scientific literature harping on the dangers of HFCS, because for every one of those articles there is another that says the exact opposite.

    Let's just say that the benefits, or lack thereof, of HFCS is open to debate. In light of that, FN should be able to sell advertising to, as you say, a "corn growing organization".

    24 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      How about this: It's not okay because it doesn't taste good. And it's in everything processed, which for much of the US means it's in almost everything. It's one of the reasons American taste has gotten sweeter.

      1. re: mhoffman

        Hear, hear. Add to that the consumption of HFCS makes the American diet very high in nutrients derived from corn. At this stage of our knowledge, we don't even know what nutrients we need (remember when vitamins were all we needed?) and it's short sighted to think we can get everything we need from corn.

        1. re: coney with everything

          Good point about the homogenization of our diets. That is surely a bad thing, culturally as well as nutritionally.

          1. re: mhoffman

            Speaking of backing the PC food craze, has anyone TRIED the new 'trans fat free' Oreos?

            Happily, they are awful and I won't be buying them anymore, since there are less cookies and the price is the same, or higher.

            Sadly, the trans fat made them delicious.

            I miss trans fat. Trans fat was my friend.

            1. re: mhoffman

              And promoting corn monoculture, which is far from good economically & environmentally.

        2. re: ipsedixit

          I have to ask myself, "why would someone support the use of HFCS?"

          Even assuming (and I don't) that it is harmlessly digested by the body, it is a panacea for making garbage food taste less like garbage. You can still find scientists who insist that Global Warming isn't real or that evolution is just a "theory" that's as good as Intelligent design. Why would it surprise us that there are studies that negate the dangers of HFCS?

          We are a nation suffering from an epidemic of obesity. Diabetes II is increasing among every age group, including children. We expect everything we eat to be sweet. There are grocery stores in urban areas that don't carry anything but processed foods.

          HFCS is a cheap, easy way to make processed foods palatable and it shows up in more and more products. It's hidden. It has to be listed on the ingredient list, but you sure don't see companies promoting the use of HFCS on the front label.

          1. re: chicgail

            Food science, just like all branches, is changing all the time. There are just as many studies to show us that marijuana helps glaucoma as studies that show all is does is make lines longer at Taco Bell at 3AM.
            Global warming does have substantial proof against it - like the ice sheets are thickening and the hole in the ozone layer is not as big this year as it was last year and still smaller than two years ago. Global climate change does have cycles.

            A smart consumer - which sadly few are - finds out who funds the data they base their beliefs upon. One of my favorite lessons is about pseudoscience and the banning of DHMO - dihydrogen monoxide - otherwise known as water.

            1. re: TampaAurora

              Just a quick note asking that that focus here remain on HFCS and food, rather than jumping off to all sorts of other issues like marijuana and global warning. Thanks!

          2. re: ipsedixit

            But - who is funding all of the data that says it's ok? It's like aspartame. If you want to read something scary, read up on that, and all of the politicians involved in keeping it on the market.

            1. re: michele cindy

              Did you hear that 1 man got fired, another quite his job & the 3rd man finally approved the use of "Sweet n Low" back then. It's pretty scary.

            2. re: ipsedixit

              I read a report in Gourmet Retailer that the FDA is denying the use of "natural" on any food product that contains HFC. Their decision was based on the way HFCs are produced.

              I have been lucy enough to be able to do some side by side comparisons and definitely prefer products made with sugar. I was able to get Coke made with sugar, Fever Tree Tonic and Gingerale. All 3 surpassed the HFC products by a wide margin.

              1. re: Candy

                Jones Soda went to cane sugar a while back. There are also "boutique" soda bottlers who use it (Boylan's, Goose Island, Sprecher). It makes a better soda.

                1. re: ferret

                  Hansen's has stopped using HFCS, too.

                2. re: Candy

                  Unfortunately this year FDA approved the label of HFCS as "NATURAL". Even though it has gone through 50-60 refining process, because it originated from corn, it's considered natural.

                  I feel that a huge problem with our whole food supply is the "refining" process. General public don't know or care. They thought that Non-fat & Non-Cal is better. While they are packed with highly refined stuff...

                  Corn syrup in fact indirectly causes "ACID RAIN"?????

                3. re: ipsedixit

                  HFCS is not okay because it is fructose and not glucose.

                  Glucose can be processed much easier by the human digenstive system. Fructose does not digest as well and forms fat around our internal organs and this raises the risk of diabetes and heart disease. The high levles of fructose also raises triglycerides and cholesterol, and decreases insulin sensitivity.

                  I spend a lot of time with my endo, and he's made it perfectly clear to his patients to avoid HFCS. He's seen several type 2 diabetes patients have a remarkable change when they avoid it.

                  I won't touch the stuff.

                  1. re: FoodChic

                    Fructose is found in many sweet tasting foods, fruit for example, not just in HFCS, so fructose in and of itself is not bad. Even regular table sugar, aka sucrose, is made of one molecule of glucose and one of fructose.

                    I think what we're talking about is the LEVELS of fructose (and in fact all other sugars) that are a concern, especially for diabetics. I'd venture to say that diabetics relacing twinkies with bananas or fruit will still get this "remarkable change" you mention. Essentially it's the H in HCFS that's the problem, not the F.

                    (Got some good info on sugar metabolism at this link: http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_7...)

                    1. re: Jonathan Saw

                      Jonathan Saw,

                      Fructose in fruit is different than the refined fructose in HFCS. And the fructose in fruit is not what you find in bread, soups, chips, sauces, frozen foods, soda, hostess products, "fruit" drinks, fruit roll ups and yes twinkies.

                      DId you not read what I wrote previously? My endo has told people to avoid HFCS. Because his patients are now reading lablels and eating foods without HFCS is why he' seen the turnaround in his type 2 pateints. I'll trust my endo's advice and the results he's had.

                      1. re: FoodChic

                        Fructose in HFCS is chemically identical to the fructose in fruit; if it weren't then it would not be fructose. High fructose corn syrup is a mixture of the monosaccharides fructose and glucose (plus a few trace oligosaccharides). The ratio of fructose to glucose varies depending on the application. In soft drinks it is typically 55% fructose and 45% glucose. In baked goods it is typically 42% fructose 58% glucose. (BTW the "high fructose" in HFCS only means high relative to "regular" corn syrup which is nearly 100% glucose.) Table sugar (from sugar cane or beets) is a disaccharide; when the disaccharide is cleaved in our intestine the result is one molecule of fructose and one molecule of glucose (i.e. a 50-50 mix). From this point forward the metabolism of these is indistinguishable from fructose and glucose consumed from HFCS.

                        Your endocrinologist is absolutely right that persons with diabetes (types I or II) should avoid HFCS. But they should avoid it in the same way they should avoid table sugar or corn syrup or honey.

                        Check out this link from the AMA:


                        Their position is that at the present time there insufficient evidence to single out HFCS for restriction or warning labels.

                        1. re: kmcarr

                          Just to be clear: I don't have diabetes, but my endo has told me to avoid HFCS. He tells all of his patients this diabetes or not.

                          1. re: FoodChic

                            Often it is easier and more effective to give a broad warning than a nuanced one. 'Avoid xyz' as opposed to 'only eat so much of xyz'. 'dont drive when taking this medicine' as opposed to 'dont drive if it makes you drowsy'.

                            The benefits that your doctor sees may have more to do with an overall drop in sugars in the diet, as opposed to just a drop in corn derived ones. How many of his patents drop soda pop entirely, as opposed to seeking out Mexican ones sweetened with cane sugar? Or choose an unsweetened pasta sauce instead of searching for an expensive organic brand that contains 'evaporated cane juice'?

                            Telling you to avoid HFCS may just be an effective way of getting you to cut back on sweetened foods. It's not proof that fructose is worse for you than sucrose.

                  2. re: ipsedixit

                    It truly ISN'T OK. If you think about all the processing to get HFCS and the process to make REAL sugar out of cane, the leaps and bounds to make the HFCS are outrageous. But, yet it costs so much less....Hmm? strange. Politics? yes! Anyway, something that is processed so much can't possibly be good for you. And the "in moderation" quote? It's in almost everything you purchase. How is that moderate? That's excessive. I was in El Salvador this past August and had a Coke made with cane sugar...the taste was soooo much better that the American Coke. Coke & Pepsi should start marketing new product that features "Cane Cola". I think they would see positive results.
                    In conclusion, I don't mind that HFCS exists, but the USDA needs to make companies who use HFCS and MSG post it in bold on the front of every package that has them as ingredients. All items with Alcohol and tobacco have to post that content and the harmful effects. And when I see that Kellogg's has HFCS in their products they promote a "Healthy Choice" it makes me feel that there are no trustworthy companies out there.

                    1. re: chadpitchfork

                      what is wrong with msg? unless you are alergic to it.

                    2. re: ipsedixit

                      I agree with you. About every five years, there is some food that is declared to be poison. Then a spate of articles comes out confirming this, based on junk science. Then a bunch of other articles come out contradicting the earlier articles that the food is "poison." But these articles never get the play that the articles declaring the food poison get. And so it goes with corn syrup.

                      Generally, I am not a big fan of corn syrup because I can remember when Cokes were made from cane sugar, before the switch to high fructose corn syrup and they definitely tasted better. (I understand that you can buy a sugar cane-based coke during Passover, at least in stores in heavily Jewish communities. But I've never found it. I'll have to try the Jones brand mentioned in another post.)

                      Also, if you have ever made hot fudge sauce with a recipe (like the one that used to appear on the back of the Baker's Baking Chocolate carton) which eschews corn syrup, it is light years better.

                      On the other hand, I can't imagine making pecan pie without corn syrup.

                    3. Not just on the Food Network, saw it on Bravo three times tonight...freaked me out. If it is fine then why the need to have a commercial that is not selling anything?

                      56 Replies
                      1. re: bubbles4me

                        There are commercials galore for beer and given the choice I think most people would say that HFCS is no worse than a frothy can of Bud Light.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          True, but they don't put Bud Light into every single processed food product for sale in America. Not that I'm a big fan of processed foods, but seriously--does it have to be in everything?

                          And if I don't like Bud Light, I can always buy another brand of beer. Lotsa luck finding products with sweeteners other than HFCS. If it were just a supply-and-demand thing, I wouldn't object so much. But the members of that "corn growing organization" have leveraged government subsidies--our tax dollars--to implement a pricing structure that has largely eliminated their competition in the commercial sweetener business.

                          Over the past decades, the inflation-adjusted cost of fruits and vegetables has skyrocketed, while the cost of sweeteners has, thanks almost entirely to HFCS, dropped dramatically. Take a look at all the overweight and obese kids around today. Go into a convenience store and note the average size of a soda. Read the ingredient list on a can of Spaghetti-Os. And ask whether you really want your tax money being spent to make products manufactured by the members of that "corn growing organization" ever cheaper and more plentiful.

                          Oh, and paying for the annoying ads, too.

                          1. re: alanbarnes

                            Perhaps, but I actually prefer HFCS to cane sugar in certain products.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              I'm all for allowing the market to satisfy people's personal preferences for HFCS or anything else (within limits; bringing laudanum back to the druggist's or arsenic back to the hardware store strikes me as a bad idea). And I don't have anything against HFCS per se.

                              My objection is that corn products subvert market forces because government subsidies make them artificially cheap. This ends up being a problem for the economy, the food supply, and the environment.

                              And then, to add insult to injury, the benefactors of our government's largess use their ill-got revenues to purchase ads that are dismissive of legitimate--although admittedly unsettled--health claims. I dunno, it just rubs me wrong.

                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                Conur. I hear you on the misguided subsidy policies of our government, and it's not just with corn, but wheat, soybeans, etc.

                                In cases like this, I think the blame lies less with the "corn growing organization" than with the partygoers that have been drinking themselves silly in Denver (last week) and St. Paul/Minn (this week).

                            2. re: alanbarnes

                              Even though I am constantly hearing about the "epidemic" of overweight and obese kids, I seriously don't see it. And I am the mother of a young son, and around children all the time. At least where I live, the vast majority of the kids are absolutely NOT fat, and if anything, are very active and thin.

                              We were also in Disney in April - certainly no shortage of kids there, and again, hardly any even remotely plump children. I just can't figure out where they are hiding all these obese kids. It's a head scratcher.

                              1. re: flourgirl

                                There is a reason why statisticians and epidemiologists don't merely report the anecdotal evidence of what they happen to see around him. Your convenience sample is biased.

                                1. re: mhoffman

                                  Maybe, but the problem with this is that you are telling people that you can't ever use your own eyes and experience to form an opinion. And I did say that I don't see it in my area. The fact remains that I am an adult who moves through the world fully capable of forming an opinion and I don't see a bunch of fat kids running around all over the place. So where are they?

                                  1. re: flourgirl

                                    It seems that you are suggesting that epidemiologists are falsely reporting an epidemic. Is that correct? I live in Los Angeles and see obese children all the time.

                                    1. re: mollyomormon

                                      I'm in LA as well - our kids' school has many overweight kids, and many are from the areas that poster MrsT mentions...

                                      I think there are many variables that will contribute to many varied observations. The diet and activity profiles of the average kid in many urban areas will vary drastically from kids in suburban and rural areas. This is particularly true when it comes to activities. Many urban kids are in a "hold" position after school, as their parents are still working and have relegated the schools to monitor and care for their kids after school. The physical activity level is minimal, and the first thing they are given after school is "nutrition," consisting of some sweetened drink and a pastry-type snack. They are told to sit and finish this. Afterwards, they sit at the tables and either socialize or do their homework until their parents come to pick them up. Some will be allowed to go on the playground, depending on their age and individual profile. Once they are picked up, many are shuttled into the house for dinner. Another issue is that even if they aren't shuttled directly in the home for dinner, many live in neighborhoods that "are not conducive" to outdoor activities - read gang and drug activities. This further hinders their abilities to be active. These same neighborhoods also follow the profile that MrsT points out. The business risks that a supermarket must take on by opening a store in such neighborhoods far outweighs the potential economic benefit, thereby reducing the number of healthy choices of consumers in vast areas of urban America. These kids don't have the privilege of soccer or little league, few have backyards or safe parks to play in, or go be kids catching frogs around a pond or roll around in open fields. Many end up satiating their frustrations with more food that is provided by many school districts. And much of this food is of relatively low quality and high in fat, sweeteners, and salt.

                                      With all due respect, the reason one doesn't see Disneyland's landscape littered with overweight kids is that many of the kids who suffer these health issues can't afford to go to places like Disneyland. We get kids who are from depressed neighborhoods coming by at least a couple of times a month, trying to sell us third-rate products or magazine prescriptions through some supposed character-building program just so they may have a long-shot chance at going to places like Disneyland. As hard as these kids work at this pie-in-the-sky proposal, if fate were to have landed them in a family whose socio-economic were similar to many of us, that kid's fortitude would be applauded by the community, and Disneyland would be a requisite on his annual intinerary, along with Tae Kwon Do, Summer camp, swimming lessons, and afterschool math tutoring...

                                      1. re: bulavinaka

                                        If you want to concentrate on the HFCS epidemic demographic, don't go to Disneyland.... go to any small town midwestern Wal-Mart on a Saturday afternoon.

                                        Mr Taster

                                    2. re: flourgirl

                                      Every day I pass through several "wealthy" areas and several "poor" areas. The heavier children are usually in the poorer neighborhoods. These are the areas that do not have access to quality produce or even supermarkets in some instances. The kids can't play outside in parks because the parks are too dangerous and/or unkept. It's also easier and cheaper for a single mother of 3 to buy her kids a bag of chips for 50 cents than a pound of apples.

                                      1. re: MrsT

                                        Same here in Biloxi, and it seems MS in general. There aren't just a lot of obese children, but obese children in general and this also happens to be one of the poorer states.

                                        1. re: MrsT

                                          Well said! I'm in the NY area and see the same findings as you report. What's "obese" to someone elsewhere to, may mean just a bit "chubby" to someone else. There are quite a lot of big "chubby" kids out there. Much more then when I was growing up.

                                          1. re: michele cindy

                                            I completely agree with your last sentence. There are many more "chubby" kids then when I was growing up. I think that proves that High Fructose Corn Syrup at least plays a part in the overweight factor. I think in general, kids get less exercise than years ago. However, I personally know children who are moderately active who have a weight problem. Their parents think they are eating healthy, however even foods that are marketed as "healthy" or "all natural" are loaded with HFCS. I often asked myself, "Why could we (meaning people my age when we were kids) eat pretty much anything we wanted, and not worry about our weight?" I dare you to take a look at your favorite soda or candy bar from when you were a kid. It will taste differently than you remember, because now it's made with HFCS; notice that's usually in addition to sugar! Just how sweet do we really need it?! I have to watch my sugar intake - I'm not diabetic, but if I have too much sugar without offsetting with protein, I tend to get headaches and feel shaky. This just started in my adult years. I was working late and needed a snack, so I went to the snack machine and thought, "Even though it probably has a ton of calories, I'll get a Payday bar because at least it's packed with peanuts and will offset the sugar"........Well, the peanuts might as well have been marshmallows, because within just a few minutes I was feeling shaky and started getting a headache. I looked on the label, and sure enough "HFCS". And, to all you naysayers: I formed this opinion without even realizing that others felt this way. I started tracking what I was eating to make me have the headaches, etc. Now that I know I'm not alone, I feel better; but I wish companies would realize what they're doing. You have to buy organic in order to avoid the HFCS. Most items that are organic use cane juice or real sugar as a sweetener.

                                        2. re: flourgirl

                                          I'm not telling you not to use your eyes; I'm just telling you that science works.

                                          1. re: mhoffman

                                            But then what I'm hearing is that the "epidemic" seems to be largely confined to certain segments of society. And while I certainly agree that society as whole shouldn't ignore ongoing problems just because they don't necessarily affect everyone in society equally, at the same time policy makers and others need to be careful about forming opinions and making sweeping policy changes based on statistics that may not accurately reflect conditions in many parts of the country. Statistics may be based on science, but once those statistics get into the hands of policymakers, at all levels of society, way too often they are used as another tool to exert control over people and I don't like it one bit.

                                            Furthermore, I sometimes shop in grocery stores where people use food stamps. These stores are full of produce, of which there is always something on sale, as well as meat fish and poultry, also some of which is on sale each and every week. And what do a lot of these people fill their carts with? Frozen dinners (which are very expensive and often fat and salt laden) and a whole lot of junk food. It is not "society's" failing that these people eat unhealthy food. It is not the "evil HFCS" that is making them obese and unhealthy. It is their own poor decisions. They are grown people who just make bad choices. At what point are they responsible for themselves and their families?

                                            1. re: flourgirl

                                              A good portion of this trend seems to be economically driven.
                                              Given the economy continues to tank - just heard more negative stats on the national economy (housing, mortgage defaults, payroll cuts, unemployment) on NPR, one can expect this trend to continue as more people are forced into more dire socioeconomic conditions that are similar to that which I described upthread.

                                              1. re: bulavinaka

                                                I'm sorry if I'm being dense, but I'm not sure where you were going with this...

                                                1. re: flourgirl

                                                  Whoops, my post should say, i agree with Flourgirls post

                                                  1. re: flourgirl

                                                    I was responding to your mentioning about statistics and trends in your first paragraph. In particular, "certain segments of society," is what I think the area that will be expanding in the near future. Also, One's perception of what obesity vs. what "normal" is in certain parts of the country can be very different.
                                                    I work and live in an area around LA that is visited by many tourists. The tourists who are from other parts of the US are very easy to point out - they're the ones who are typically 30 to 50 pounds overweight (and dressed horribly in comparison!) compared to their European counterparts. I know this is highly subjective and just a small population sample, but the consistancy of my observations tells me that this could be a national problem.

                                                    And I also recently read an article based on the one that poster alanbarnes is referring to that seemed to reinforce my thoughts about this being a national trend.

                                                    I don't want to blame this whole thing on HFCS. But I think it is a major symptom of what is going on in the food industry and society. Supersizing, time constraints, profit margins, large- scale agribusinesses, economic conditions, social problems, education, etc., are all playing into this current problem. Our perceptions on what is a normal serving size has changed drastically, where at one time a 16-ounce Coke was considered to be huge, it is now replaced by a one-litre bottle or even a 64-ounce+ Super Gulp at the local convenience store. Carl's Jr. serving up their mega-burgers with gobs of agribusiness protein stacked on top of more agribusiness protein sandwiched by agribusiness buns laced with who knows what... These sandwiches have enough beef to feed a whole family in most cultures, yet in our culture, one person will eat this with a huge side of hydrogenated oil-laced fries, and a shake loaded with more hydrogenated oil, HFCS, and agribusiness dairy. The food web that the typical American is incorporated into easily leads down the path of obesity and all of its health issues.

                                                    1. re: bulavinaka

                                                      I remember when a 12-oz. Pepsi was considered huge, and most sodas came in 7-oz. bottles (for a nickel, but that's another story!). We lived in farming towns in Illinois, and yes, there were some fat kids, and once in a while a truly obese one, who was usually said to have some kind of "gland" problem (that oddly enough seemed to run in the family). But skinny, or at least lean, was easily the norm.

                                                      The industry hype about how fructose and sucrose are "chemically identical" is a clever diversion, deliberately avoiding the fact that the corn syrup has a much higher glycemic index that cane sugar...and when you get used to that fast sugar fix, and come to regard that level of simple, uncomplicated over-sweetness as normal, you're right where they want you. And probably pre-diabetic, as well.

                                                      1. re: Will Owen

                                                        C'mon Will, you're not that old! Or am I as well? :) 7 oz Cokes were a dime in my day, and 16 oz sodas were I think 20 cents or a quarter - only the teens normally got those...

                                                        Great info about the higher glycemic index - my mom laid off the junk food/fast food/prepackaged, among other things, because she was borderline-diabetic and is fine now... It's funny - when she tails off of her "better" ways and eats out at (what I consider) crappy places like senior lunches (the ones where $1.25 gets you a hot meal of questionable origin) or fast foodish places, her blood sugar soars. When she pulls back from those options and goes back on course (eating meals at home, going out to more viable options), her blood sugar is fine... Something is going on...

                                                        I always enjoy your reads, Will. You're down to earth, always pleasant, have great recs, and have great experiences to tie things together...

                                                        1. re: bulavinaka

                                                          Hee hee. I read these "I remember when..." posts and think, "The next thing you know I'm going to hear about walking 5 miles to school in the snow." :-D

                                                          1. re: Avalondaughter

                                                            uphill, both ways and without shoes like my grandfather?

                                                        2. re: Will Owen

                                                          Can you give a reference that compares the glycemic index of corn syrup v. cane sugar? The GI database at U Sydney is not helpful for this.

                                                          Also, which corn syrup are you talking about? The least processed form is mostly glucose, and in fact is the most common source of chemically pure glucose (dextrose). HFCS can be as high as 90 fructose, though the forms used in food manufacturing are usually blended (e.g. 55% fructose to simulate sucrose, 42% is preferred for baking).

                                                          If the HFCS has roughly equal glucose and fructose ratios, is it's glycemic index any different than that of cane sugar, which has the same sugars, only loose bound into sucrose molecules.

                                                  2. re: flourgirl

                                                    Ever consider that the segments of society hardest hit by the obesity "epidemic" are those that consume the largest amount of processed foods, including HFCS?

                                                    The possibility that obesity statistics "may not accurately reflect conditions in many parts of the country" has been conclusively eliminated by the CDC. In the 1980s, not a single state had an incidence of obesity over 15%. By 1996, obesity rates had increased, but no state had an obesity rate of over 20%. Fast forward to 2007, and Colorado is the ONLY state with an obesity rate of LESS than 20%. http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/obesi... (And it's not that Colorado doesn't have a problem; its obesity rate was less than 10% in the 1980s and less than 15% in the 1990s; now it's up over 15% but less than 20%.


                                                    Whether there's a causal relationship between HFCS and obesity is the subject of legitimate scientific debate. But there's no legitimate dispute that there's a direct correlation between the rise of obesity in the US and the use of HFCS as a sweetener.

                                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                                      The fact remains that no one is forcing anyone to eat food that contains HFCS. I am sick to death of people being portrayed as victims. The vast majority of adults in this country are free to make choices. And if they choose to eat too much food that is unhealthy that is their choice. Are there some people who don't have access to fresh produce and the like? Maybe. But it certainly isn't so many people that it could create an "epidemic" of obesity.

                                                      1. re: flourgirl

                                                        It's not about victimization as much as disallowing the choice that you imply exists. HFCS is everywhere and the reason it is everywhere is because we are DENIED choice. American food producers do not have a choice in the marketplace -- price-fixing on sugar keeps the price artificially high and forces the use of HFCS to stay competitive. The companies that use sugar or non-HFCS sweeteners exact a price premium on their product to account for the added cost (and in some cases, justa plain premium). If you're on a low income you buy what you can afford -- and fresh produce isn't necessarily on the radar. It's easy to be dismissive but the real story is much, much more complicated.

                                                        1. re: flourgirl

                                                          I partially agree with your assertion of the Victicrat mentality, but at the same time, one of my daughter's best friends lives in an area that most would consider inner-city/borderline ghetto, and the choices there are very very limited. I don't know if you have similar experiences or exposure, but the contrast between their typical choices and ours is eye-opening...

                                                          1. re: bulavinaka

                                                            I did say that I was aware that there are some people faced with very limited choices. But this doesn't translate into a country-wide epidemic. So if there IS an epidemic on that scale it just can't all be attributed to people who live in areas with few choices. And if there is the remotest possibility that it does, then it is even more support for my argument that broad sweeping policy decisions made to address the issues uncovered by the statistics so many people here seem to love so much, are, at best, misguided.

                                                            1. re: flourgirl

                                                              Fair enough... I do completely agree on your inference that big govt rarely solves most social issues that they set out to deal with...

                                                              1. re: flourgirl

                                                                Median household income in the US for 2006 was just over $48,000. For those who don't believe in statistics, "median" means half the households (at least 2 earners) in the US earn below that amount. Add to that today's report of 9.4 million Americans being unemployed and it's not hard to see that there's a problem there. The "below-the-line" people don't shop at Whole Foods, many don't have transportation that allows them to comparison shop or go to stores outside their immediate area. It's just smug to say "I don't see it with my own eyes so it can't really be happening."

                                                                1. re: ferret

                                                                  People who twist words and use statistics to bash people over the head are the ones who worry me the most. My point, once again, is that statistics do not operate in a vaccuum. How the results of a statistical analysis are applied makes all the difference. And your statistic regarding household income proves my point exactly. The problem with those income statistics is that costs of living vary widely across the country. The cost of living is extremely high in my state (NJ) and the same income here that will barely leave you hanging on will do quite nicely in another state that does not have the outrageous property taxes that we have, the outrageous auto insurance premiums, the outrageous health insurance costs, the outrageous state taxes, etc. But yet, our federal government is constantly making new policies based on that $48,000 statistic without once considering the huge disparity in the cost of living in different states.

                                                                  And once friggin again, I DO sometimes shop in stores where there are people who are on foodstamps. And almost without fail they are loading their carts with total crap food. These people CAN afford better food, and yes, they would have to buy less food. But then maybe they wouldn't be obese, would they?

                                                                  1. re: flourgirl

                                                                    Sure, it's possible to afford it, flourgirl, and it's probably more cost-effective if you're just looking at dollars alone. But consider that "non-crap food" can often involve investment of time and/or skills that people may not have (or know how to extract). In general, on Chowhound, we're a biased group because we like food and likely put lots of thoughts and investment into what we eat (in terms of money, time, skill etc.) without considering it an excessive burden. But for many others, "total crap food" is what feels most feasible....

                                                                    For what it's worth, I'm coming from the perspective of working in a program that aims to bring limited-resources audiences (e.g. people in the Food Stamp Program) to a point where they gain self-efficacy, skills and time-management to move away from highly-processed (and less-cost-effective foods) that are often filled with HFCS. I do not know all their complete life stories, but what I've come to realize is that it is a blessing to, with no significant struggle:

                                                                    - be in a position to enjoy food without excessive financial worry
                                                                    - have the interest to learn more about what I eat (e.g. read labels, soundly interpret studies that are saturating media outlets, etc.)
                                                                    -have learned the skills and time management to work with less processed foods and realize that it is cost-effective

                                                                    I don't mean this is a "holier-than-anyone-else" way- it's just something that I appreciate.

                                                                    For some people, microwaving that frozen meal or heating up that jar of HFCS-laden tomato sauce for pasta is a step towards "less crap" food and fiscal responsibility (e.g. they're shopping, likely (?) looking for things on sale, and using their kitchen instead of ordering equally processed foods away from home). In some cases, filling their carts with "crap" is one of the small steps on the journey they're taking towards doing better for themselves. Perhaps at a later point they can come to the point of realizing that even processed foods on sale are not as cost-effective as cooking with more "whole" foods. And hopefully this realization comes at a point when they're actually using their skills to make something delicious and wholesome for themselves. After all, experience is what usually makes us believers......

                                                                    Certainly what I've witnessed and experienced is unique (isn't this true for us all? :), and we often form out opinions based on these. However, using a "snapshot" of a person's life (e.g. what they're putting in their grocery cart on a given day) to draw generalizations about that they can and can't do is on par with passing judgment on you because you're forming opinions based on what you've witnessed and experienced. IMHO, neither of these are fair conclusions to draw.

                                                                    1. re: 4Snisl

                                                                      The bottom line is that we have been denied options on a massive scale. Producing food in large quantities is all about economies of scale and a few cents here or there turn into massive costs for producers. When sugar's price got artificially inflated that meant any sugar derivative became "too expensive" for commercial manufacturers. Sure, there are alternative products available to the HFCS-laden crap but they're nearly always more expensive or left to Whole Foods-type markets.

                                                                      The crocodile tears of the HFCS refiners is what I find appaling -- after raping consumers for 26 years they now act like they're victims of a smear campaign. Sure, ADM, Cargill, Tate & Lyle and the rest are the victims.

                                                                    2. re: flourgirl

                                                                      I know there is no point in belaboring this discussion, but another reason poorer people might choose processed foods is that they don't have the leisure time or skills to prepare food from scratch. If you live next to a good produce source and can shop every time you cook, great...if you must go to the supermarket once a week you must have the ability and willingness to plan meals carefully so your food doesn't spoil. If you are working two jobs to make ends meet and dealing with the numerous other headaches that lack of money injects into your life, it may be a tall order to reorient your life into becoming a skilled homemaker.

                                                              2. re: flourgirl

                                                                Although lack of access to healthy food is a problem for some people, the cost per calorie is the real driving force behind the obesity epidemic in the poor. Processed foods are much cheaper on a per-calorie basis than whole foods. So people with real or perceived food insecurity therefore tend to buy more processed foods and fewer healthy foods.

                                                                Data collected by the US Department of Health and Human Services shows that poor women are approximately 50% more likely to be obese than women of higher socioeconomic status. Here again, obesity correlates with consumption of HFCS: most of the fructose in the American diet comes from soft drinks and processed foods, and fructose consumption levels decline with increased household income.

                                                                The reason is simple. According to Dr. Adam Drewnowski, Director of the Center for Public Health Nutrition in the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine, "It's a question of money...On a per calorie basis, diets composed of whole grains, fish, and fresh vegetables and fruits are far more expensive than refined grains, added sugars and added fats. It's not a question of being sensible or silly when it comes to food choices, it's about being limited to those foods that you can afford."

                                                                Around the world, people who are concerned about feeding themselves and their children purchase foods that are cheap and nutrient-dense. The rest of the world, however, does not subsidize the manufacture of highly-processed foods. As a result, US foods made by the members of the Corn Refiners Association are artificially cheap, and artificially attractive to those with limited means.

                                                                I'm not saying that HFCS should be banned. I'm not even saying that the Corn Refiners Association shouldn't be able to run ads on TV. What I am saying is that our tax dollars should not be used to artificially tilt the playing field in favor of highly processed foods and against healthier choices, especially when the result of those subsidies is higher federally-funded health care costs.

                                                            2. re: flourgirl

                                                              I agree with you 100%.

                                                              I grew up in those neighborhoods, and it's called getting yourself into better circumstances. College loans, etc. My mother never fed us a vegetable.

                                                              We ate fast food and diner food. Relearning and teaching myself is a constant struggle. But the farmer's market has never ceased to be a delight to me.

                                                        2. re: mhoffman

                                                          I don't see them either. Yes I do, whenever I stop at McDonalds. The ones working there, and few that stop in, that's where I've noticed them.
                                                          What makes me worry, the stats and hype are from doctors that are treating the obese kids,(or have a book they've written) the healty ones are not in their offices, they're usually at the soccer fields. Baloney.

                                                          1. re: chef chicklet

                                                            ~~the stats and hype are from doctors that are treating the obese kids~~

                                                            Actually, the primary source of data is public schools, which measure and weigh all students annually and forward the information to public health agencies.

                                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                                              Sorry, not trying to be a brat, but that's so interesting, did you know what's on the menu for school this week? Burritos and hamburgers. What a very interesting fact if that is true.

                                                        3. re: flourgirl

                                                          I go to Disney at least yearly and they are pretty much everywhere. Not four year olds, mind you, but 10, 12 , 16 year olds. Also, living in Miami, I have seen the average teenager get chubbier over the last few years. I've been seeing skinnier kids, thank goodness, but it was getting pretty bad.

                                                          1. re: Icantread

                                                            And all I see are teenagers who are toothpicks.

                                                            1. re: flourgirl

                                                              Flourgirl and everyone else who thinks there's no fat epidemic, you need to get out of Pasadena and open your eyes. Disneyland? Try stepping into County hospital. Have you been there yet? No? Well, that's a shame. Feel free to continue pontificating from your pedestal, the rest of us have real work to do.

                                                          2. re: flourgirl

                                                            Where do you live? I see lots of fat kids here in rural SW Ontario( and in MI when I cross the border). Its really sad. One day, my spouse and I counted them as we sat on the beach. We also watched them all drink regular soda or " juice" boxes that are full of HFCS.

                                                            1. re: Calipoutine

                                                              You and your spouse sat and counted 'fat kids'? Did you point and giggle?

                                                              Remind me to go kick sand in your face next time I go to the beach.

                                                              I just didn't want to let the thread progress farther without reminding everyone...

                                                              I am the biggest supporter of "everyone is responsible for what they put in their own mouths, etc etc etc"

                                                              But be aware, there are a million OTHER possible issues for childhood obesity. Juvenile diabetes, metabolic disorders, thyroid issues, glycogen storage diseases, muscular dystrophys, etc.

                                                              I'd hate for one of those, let's just say, seven chubby children to be genuinely unable to do anything about their weight who saw a pointed finger outstretched their way and possibly knew why.

                                                              I was thin my entire life, and have a rare form of adult onset gsd which has made me chubby. My husband things delightly so, but hey.... I'd hate for chowhounders to see me in a restaurant and think I need to watch my portion sizes (which are far less than the us average)

                                                              1. re: sommrluv

                                                                Rare disorders and other possible medical causes of obesity are not new and do not explain why there is an ever increasing percentage of obese people in this country. I have to believe that the cause is cultural.
                                                                Yes people are ultimatly responsible for what they put in their own mouths but this is an oversimplification. I believe that there are many evils perpitrated in the name of greed. I believe that causing potentially dangerous side effects by refining food is one of those evils. I have a hard time blaming the ignorant masses for the negative health effects caused by the food that they are encouraged to buy. Remember we are talking about a commercial that is trying to sell people on hfcs.

                                                                1. re: keith2000

                                                                  I'm not providing excuses for people. I'm accusing the people who take a glance at the population and assume they eat processed food.

                                                                  What are you doing for the general population? I teach people how to cook from scratch from readily available cheap and Yes, organic foods! Hate to ring my own bell, but get out in the community.

                                                                  Saying poor people are ignorant is worse than the people marketing to them. That's like saying they aren't responsible for their mortgage products because they didn't bother to read the contracts. They are poor, and therefore stupid? Everyone is born with the same chances in life.

                                                                  It's what you do with them that counts. And that includes being responsible for what you put in your mouth, and not glancing at others and forming a judgement on their lives.

                                                                  HFCS is in a lot more foods than it was in even a year ago. Bring back the local farm. Teach portion control. If we put shows like this on tv, it will be socially acceptable and we'll see results.

                                                                  1. re: sommrluv

                                                                    "Everyone is born with the same chances in life. "

                                                                    This is an extremely debatable point. You wouldn't say that a rich white American is born with the "same chances" as a desperately poor baby in Mogadishu, would you? If you believe that all Americans are born with the "same chances" then I think that is a faith-based rather than reality-based assertion.

                                                                    1. re: sommrluv

                                                                      It's not a matter of being ignorant -- in many case it's based purely on access. In large urban areas (like Chicago, where I live) there are plenty of neighborhoods that are underserved by the larger supermarket chains and have to rely on local stores with limited -- and relatively expensive -- produce. When people can't readily comparison shop or don't have the time to take a bus or train to a megamart their choices are necessarily limited.

                                                                      1. re: sommrluv

                                                                        sommrluv, you missed my point entirely. Please read my post again. I am confounded by your response. I do not understand where your anger is comming from.
                                                                        There is a big difference between the word ignorant and the word stupid. I never asserted that low income people were stupid. I never actually said anything about income. I said "ignorant masses" that is everyone who does not have or is not given information. My point was that the people who try to sell the masses potentially dangerous products for their own personal gain are evil. masses are all of us.
                                                                        Also, please understand that you don't know anything about me. Your encouragement for me to "get out in the community" assumes that I am not out in the community. I am not going to ring my own bell and I am not going to share personal information about myself. I will assure you that you don't know me well enough to assume that I am not involved.

                                                                2. re: flourgirl

                                                                  I think a great deal of these obese kids are in the inner city and ghettos. You certainly will not see them at Disney because they don't have the money.

                                                                  1. re: stricken

                                                                    No obese kids at Disney? LOL!! Both you and flourgirl must be kidding.

                                                                    Your assumption that kids from well-to-do families are not overweight is ridiculous. The omnipresence of fast food, candy, McD's and HFCS hidden in otherwise "healthy" foods" affects all of us.

                                                                    1. re: chicgail

                                                                      While there are too many fat rich kids, there's no dispute that household income is a significant predictor of obesity. (Strauss, et al., Influence of the Home Environment on the Development of Obesity in Children (1999) 103 Pediatrics 6:e85; Sutherland, et al., Higher Prevalence of Childhood Overweight and Obesity in Association with Gender and Socioeconomic Status (2008) 65 Nutrition & Dietetics 3:192.) Children from low-income families are much more likely to be overweight or obese than children from more affluent backgrounds.

                                                          3. It's everywhere, and not just on the Food Network. Don't see anything weird about it and am frankly surprised that it took the industry this long to launch such a PR/advertising campaign. Any major industry that is preceived of producing/selling an alleged "vice" does this.

                                                            1. I just saw the ommercial on Discovery health and immediately came here knowing there would probably be a post. You can view the commercials here
                                                              The commercial certainly got my attention. It's funny that the two who hesitate to consume HFCS are featured as pretty tactless/clueless(You Don"t love me?, Wow, you don't care care what the kids eat, huh?). Like someone else mentioned, I am surprised it took the Corn Refiners Association this long to launch something like this.

                                                              10 Replies
                                                              1. re: ArikaDawn

                                                                Wow. Wierd. The 'enemy' fighting back, eh?

                                                                While I couldn't care less about HFCS or trans fat, it is interesting to see them barrage the stations with their message. I saw them on Lifetime.

                                                                All the trans fats guys have to do is show Oreos 'before' and 'after'.

                                                                I wish them luck.

                                                                1. re: dolores

                                                                  You wish the trans fat guys luck? Curious as to why...

                                                                  1. re: mollyomormon

                                                                    Only slightly facetiously. I don't like government intervention in my life, whether it's to control those that have been deemed the 'bad' guys, or the 'good' guys.

                                                                    The 'bad' guys usually take 'advantage' of these opportunities to downsize, up price and otherwise also intrude on my life. The 'good' guys don't say a word (they've usually been bought off) and the customer is the loser.

                                                                    So, yes, I wish the trans fats guys good luck. Oreos were just fine with trans fats. Those worried about them should just eat less. Just think about what they'll replace the trans fats with....

                                                                    1. re: dolores

                                                                      Better that we have corporate intervention in government? As I wrote in my post below, the only reason we have HFCS is because of lobbying efforts in government. The intervention is there whether you like it or not. Although there is currently a worldwide sugar glut, U.S. prices are still more than double that of foreign sugar.

                                                                      I'm not saying sugar is better or worse than HFCS, but saying that "government intervention" is a bad thing on HFCS ignores how we got there in the first place.

                                                                2. re: ArikaDawn

                                                                  ADM & Cargill get "folksy"? Corn Refiners Association??

                                                                  1. re: ArikaDawn

                                                                    The more I think about these commercials, the angrier I get.

                                                                    "You know what they say about [HFCS]?"

                                                                    I just want to yell at the screen. "They say there's a direct correlation between the rise of obesity in the U.S. and the use of HFCS for sweetening beverages and foods! They say that increased consumption of fructose is associated with obesity and insulin resistance! They say that HFCS may cause liver damage in those who have a high fat diet and a sedentary lifestyle!!!"

                                                                    It makes me mad that this industry is attempting to subvert a legitimate scientific debate about the safety of its products by portraying those who are concerned about that issue as morons. Especially given that there's nobody who's going to pay for responsive advertisements.

                                                                    I normally don't go shooting off my mouth about things like HFCS, but these ads have me revisiting that position. From now on I may be the "I thought you loved me" guy.

                                                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                      Alanbarnes: I totally agree with your statement. I had seen in a Progressive Grocer newsletter that the Corn Growers Association was going to start an ad campain so I was glad to get the link to the commercials since I don't watch much tv.

                                                                      I had the same initial response, why did they make the disagreer look like such a "moron"? There are so many of us who do see HFCS as a terrible thing to be putting in our bodies so if nothing else I hope to see some comical responsive ads on YouTube.

                                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                        I just gave my feedback on www.corn.org. Who knows who's listening, but if they get enough emails in negative response to their ads, maybe they'll rethink? Probably not...but at least it might make us feel better. : )

                                                                        1. re: abowe

                                                                          I keep thinking about the tobacco industry post-WWII - 1980s when I think about their propaganda. There's far too much money involved in this web for them to back off...

                                                                        2. re: alanbarnes

                                                                          alan I don't want to have a love in or anything and I know I have said it before but you just reminded me that you are without question my very favorite poster on chowhound.

                                                                      2. This has echoes of the "Nine out of ten doctors smoke _____" commercials of long ago.

                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                        1. re: mnosyne

                                                                          Kurt Eichenwald's "The Informant" (about ADM's price-fixing scandal; soon to be a major motion picture -- as the saying goes). Has a fascinating history of ADM's maneuvering to make HFCS the sweetener of choice. Dwayne Andreas, the politically well connected head of ADM, lobbied (successfully) for price protections for his American sugar-growing buddies. Once the price of American sugar was artificially set at what was up to 3X the world market price, ADM priced HFCS just under the sugar price -- enough of a deal for mega-volume users like Coke and Pepsi to save a fortune. Forcing American companies to overpay for American sugar (which current-year's crop had to be depleted before they could get sugar from cheaper markets) closed many candy companies. Chicago's Brachs moved to Mexico, as did numerous others.

                                                                          1. re: ferret

                                                                            Another fascinating factoid from the book: Andreas made his name by selling cooking oil to the USSR post WWII. He had been working for Cargill, which balked at circumventing trade embargoes, but Andreas convinced ADM that there was a fortune to be made supplying the Soviets, who had a large population and limited infrastructure. They shipped tankers of oil to Argentina for further shipment to the USSR. Eventually they just loaded Argentinian tankers in the US.

                                                                          2. re: mnosyne

                                                                            Perhaps in a few years there will be lawsuits because people just couldn't keep from eating all those trans fats and HFCS?

                                                                            1. re: dolores

                                                                              The lawsuits have come and gone. Search Google.

                                                                            2. re: mnosyne

                                                                              I was thinking the exact same thing... Maybe not as notorious as tabacco but far more invasive...

                                                                            3. Sad.
                                                                              less bizarre than the cheap food ads on FN telling you how to cook recipes so awful that even Sandra Lee was put on this earth so we wouldn't resort to anymore.

                                                                              1. i really have a problem with "some corn growing organization" .. my parents are farmers and i think people should show a little more respect for the people who are growing things that others consume, even if it is HFCS. personally i think we are directing our concerns in the wrong direction, someone needs to be screaming at the top of their lungs "STOP DRINKING DIET DRINKS, ASPERTAME IS KILLING YOU" but you hardly EVER hear about that and it is seriously in EVERYTHING. someone said something about tobacco, lay off the smokers it is THEIR choice to smoke, how about we gang up on the drunk drivers who are killing people everyday in car accidents. the things people stress over, the american society is fascinating, if someone published a book called "Flip Flops Kill" half of americans would be wearing closed toed shoes :]

                                                                                10 Replies
                                                                                1. re: erin.grantham

                                                                                  There is a vice du jour--a vice bandwagon--that the public jumps on and gets off eventually. Today, it's HFCS. Tomorrow, who knows--but there'll be something, believe it! Sometimes I think we are actually fortunate to have such "issues" b/c w/more and more people around the world going hungry every day, people in those countries could only dream of having such "problems" (organic vs. inorganic; HFCS; genetically modified food; etc.).

                                                                                  1. re: gloriousfood

                                                                                    Let's not forget those evil carbs during the low carb diet craze. Seriously, I thought I was going to lose my mind living through that one. It was like living through an invasion of the body snatchers, where all everybody could talk about (and I mean almost everybody - even my parents did it, scared the hell out of me) was the evils of carbs and how EVERYONE should be on a low carb diet. Sheesh.

                                                                                    1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                      We need to be careful when making comparisons. There are some things that have been unfairly demonized take salt for example. Comparing carbohydrates to high fructose corn syrup is simply not a fair comparison. The commercials for hfcs even say "in moderation" these guys know that their product is unhealthy.

                                                                                  2. re: erin.grantham

                                                                                    I remember when asparatame was a big concern, but it seems someone was able to quiet those fears as well. I'm afraid the same will happen with HFCS.

                                                                                    You really cannot listen to the hype because you will be modifying your diet everyday. I think it's just a matter of personal responsibility. You know there are bad things out there. Avoid them. Unfortunately this idea doesn't completely work because there are segments of the population who are not as knowledgable about what they consume and primarily only have access to, and can afford all of these convenience foods that are laden with questionable chemicals and sweeteners. It's unfortunate profits seem to be placed at a higher priority than the consumers.

                                                                                    1. re: ArikaDawn

                                                                                      ~~You really cannot listen to the hype because you will be modifying your diet everyday.~~

                                                                                      Ain't that the truth. I think Michael Pollan boiled it down pretty well in his book "In Defense of Food": Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

                                                                                      We as a society eat way too much in the way of food-like products. Food comes from farms and ranches, not factories. If we limited our consumption to things that (a) our great-grandmothers would have recognized as food and (b) don't have any ingredients we can't pronounce, we'd all be a lot better off.

                                                                                      1. re: ArikaDawn

                                                                                        I just listened to a radio program on Aspartame, I never knew there were any concerns about it. I don't even use sugar free stuff, but after listening to this show, and reading the data I am convinced this stuff is lethal.

                                                                                      2. re: erin.grantham

                                                                                        I have tremendous respect for those who are growing our food. But no respect whatsoever for the megacorporations that have manipulated government policy so that planting a monoculture of corn (okay, maybe some soybeans) is the only way many farmers can make a living.

                                                                                        Oh, and by the way, no farmer ever grew HFCS. It comes from a factory, not a field. Just like aspartame.

                                                                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                          but i mean it is made from corn and i understand it is not actually grown, thanks though :]

                                                                                          1. re: erin.grantham

                                                                                            Do yourself a favor and Google or Wiki the processes that HFCS as well as highly refined cane sugar go through - it's like a mad scientist who's gone even madder...

                                                                                        2. re: erin.grantham

                                                                                          But this isn't a commercial AGAINST HFCS, it's industry (ADM/Cargill) propaganda promoting the use of the product. I'd be less perturbed if it wasn't for the fact that ADM foisted HFCS on the public through its own lobbying efforts in 1982 (as I mentioned above). Creating a condition where sugar became uncompetetive price-wise was a disservice to consumers. I'm all for corn farming, but at what cost? We're already diverting too high a percentage of our corn crops to ethanol and HFCS production as opposed to actual food production.

                                                                                        3. i saw a print ad for HFCS in a magazine as well...

                                                                                          1. I saw the ads yesterday or the day before, and I actually had to look to see if we had flipped to Saturday Night Live. I thought for sure I was watching a spoof.

                                                                                            I fight locally for farmers rights, and to date, I know nothing about the Corn Refiner's.

                                                                                            But several of my big concerns are the fact that much of the corn we grow AND process is genetically altered and we have yet to know how GMO's affect our bodies.

                                                                                            I've also been told, and thought I'd read data, but wasn't able to retreive in a quick search (hmmmm) that hfcs affects blood sugar differently (absorbed quicker, therefore worse for diabetics, people with low blood sugar who might dump blood sugar quickly, etc).

                                                                                            Regardless, as far as HFCS affecting the obesity epidemic, well, no one but ourselves are responsible for putting things in our mouth. No one needs it every day...the commercial did make one obvious point...moderation.

                                                                                            I think people like ourselves bringing attention to the fact that we need healthful food, available to everyone, is a good message. It can be done.

                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: michele cindy

                                                                                                Sounds like an interesting book, I'll have to check it out.

                                                                                                1. re: michele cindy

                                                                                                  Unscientific, anti-intellectual screeds like this book are exactly why the "Corn Refiners Association" feels compelled to advertise. Fear mongering masquerading as "nutritional information" is accepted with complete credulity by the popular media.

                                                                                                  I am not saying that we should not carefully examine what we eat and how it affects our bodies, but to do so with a critical eye and mind to BOTH sides of the argument.

                                                                                              2. OH, I forgot an important part of the studies I read. HFCS is directly linked not only to obesity and juvenile diabetes, but the REASON it is linked to those conditions is because it adversely affects hormones, SPECIFICALLY...the hormones that regulate how full you feel/hungry you are and your immune response hormones. Basically messing your system up so much that you feel hungry all the time, never full and you do not properly react to injury or illness. Yeah, I want that in my food.

                                                                                                10 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: sonicdrama

                                                                                                  Just what is the nature that link? Does any mix of fructose and glucose molecules 'adversely affect hormones' or just a mix produced from corn by certain evil businesses?

                                                                                                  Should I be afraid of Lyle's Golden Syrup? How about the homemade invert syrup? Honey?

                                                                                                  1. re: sonicdrama

                                                                                                    There is no link to HFCS and juvenile diabetes! Juvenile (type I) diabetes is due to a defective insulin production by pancreatic islet cells and is not associated with diet at all.

                                                                                                    Obesity and type II (adult onset) diabetes or insulin insensitivity have been CORRELATED with increasing HFCS consumption in the US over the past two decades, but correlation does not equal causation. Total consumption of caloric sweeteners (sucrose, corn syrup, HFCS and others) has also increased over that period so the increase in obesity is equally well correlated with increase in total caloric sweetener intake regardless of type. Increases in obesity and diabetes have also been observed in other parts of the world where the proportion of sweetener as HFCS much lower than in the US.

                                                                                                    Studies showed an effect of fructose on the hormones leptin, ghrelin and insulin and the promotion of obesity but the study utilized fructose as the sole carbohydrate source, not HFCS. One can not conclude that the effects would be the same if the diet contained a mixture of fructose and glucose. However another study on the looked at the effect on levels of insulin, leptin and ghrelin in the bloodstream when feed a mixed meal including beverages sweetened with HFCS or sucrose. It found no difference between these two sugar sources in the circulating levels of these hormones. Since both both HFCS and sucrose are absorbed into the bloodstream as a mixture of glucose and fructose this study can not be directly compared to the fructose only study.

                                                                                                    So yes, I have looked at the studies and my conclusion is that HFCS does not pose any greater health risk than similar sweeteners like sucrose or honey.

                                                                                                    1. re: kmcarr

                                                                                                      One possibility is that the **quantity** of sugars being consumed is the problem. Sugar consumption has skyrocketed over the last few decades, since HFCS became cheaper than dirt. In fact, Americans are now getting more than 10% of their calories from fructose.

                                                                                                      I'm skeptical of the claims that HFCS is inherently unhealthy. It may turn out that there are health risks associated with consumption of HFCS as opposed to the same number of calories in other refined sugars, but my guess is that the average American is just getting way too many empty calories.

                                                                                                      Eliminating the subsidies that make it so cheap to pack processed foods with corn by-products (including HFCS) might not significantly reduce consumption of those products. But it might, and I sure wish the feds would give it a try.

                                                                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                        Tack on serving sizes as well. I personally don't know of anybody who pays attention to the serving sizes on packaging, or considers various portion sizes of USDA's recs to be practical in today's world.

                                                                                                        I mentioned upthread about how a 16-ounce Coke used to be considered a huge serving back in the 60s through early 70s. Nowadays, stand by the soda fountain at 7-Eleven and see how many Big Gulps and Super Big Gulps are filled in an hour... Talk about sugar overdose!

                                                                                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                          Alan, thanks for your comments. From your comments here and upthread it seems that my views on the subject of HFCS are generally in sync with yours. I do have a notion of the way agriculture and tax policies have really made the the US diet very dependent on corn. (Did you know that you can tell how much of you was built from corn by measuring the stable isotope ratio of the carbon and nitorogen in your body!!) But those issues are outside my education and background so I forgo commenting on them in favor of things I am more familiar with. You seem much more informed on these issues so I'll defer to your judgement here.

                                                                                                          I do not wish to appear to be some sort of cheerleader for HFCS nor am I saying that HFCS is *good* for you. It just gets my hackles up when I see so much misinformation (not by you, but others) presented as if it were scientific proof that HFCS is the root of all of our dietary and social evils. It is especially worrisome to me that having HFCS become the popular whipping boy distracts people from what is, to my mind at least, the larger issues of total caloric consumption and lack of physical activity.

                                                                                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                            IMO this is the important point. Maybe I missed it, but WHY are food producers putting so much sweetener into products these days?

                                                                                                            The breakfast cereal aisle shows an extreme lack of choice - non-hyper-sweetened cereal is almost a DIY task these days (Bring back Post Oak Flakes).

                                                                                                            Corn syrup is the number three ingredient in Hillshire Farms beef SAUSAGE. WTF? Not HFCS but an ideal 'stretcher' - thickens, retains moisture, sweetens. Gratuitous extra calories. The perfect faux-food.

                                                                                                            It may be that food producers are taking advantage of our genetic preference for slightly sweet (=ripe) foods. Adults can read the label and choose, but impressionable children do not.

                                                                                                            1. re: DiveFan

                                                                                                              did you see the interview with the high level manager from one of the chains, I believe it was IHOP? She said they couldn't make the food sweet enough--people always want it sweeter.

                                                                                                              So they're definitely taking advantage of our preferences, not only for sweet but also for salty and fatty. Intellectually I believe we all know better, but the subconscious animal part of us still reaches for the bad stuff.

                                                                                                              1. re: DiveFan

                                                                                                                While I think we have a genetic preference for sweet foods, what's also true is that our environment (read: the food processors) are encouraging it and training us to want sweeter and sweeter foods.

                                                                                                                It makes me think of the those people in Wall-E who just sat in their lounge chairs while they got fed pap both on the TV screen in front of them and the food that got piped to them.

                                                                                                                1. re: DiveFan

                                                                                                                  I say much of it is just Bad Parenting.
                                                                                                                  Our diet growing up was, er, semi homemade without much processed food content. Dessert was rare, maybe a cookie or two. Candy was a personal allowance item which I only remember buying when under ten, and I had to ride my bike ~2 miles to get it! Drinks were KoolAid, lemonade and OJ, never commercial soft drinks.

                                                                                                                  1. re: DiveFan

                                                                                                                    I think you and I had the same childhood. I was just talking with my mom the other day about how I had to ride 3 miles to get candy - and I only did that for a short time, it was just because I could and I relished the power more than the candy. And it was the same in my house - dessert was rare, no soda, very very few processed foods. (I can remember how my brother and I constantly complained that there was nothing to eat in the house - translated as " no junk food.")

                                                                                                          2. 1. There are clearly epidemics of obesity and diabetes in the US.
                                                                                                            2. Both are hitting children in unanticipated rates and the poor especially hard.
                                                                                                            3. Black and Hispanic women have the highest obesity rates.
                                                                                                            4. Obesity in children is associated with less exercise, greater time spent in sedentary activities (TV, computer games), and changed, calorie and sugar dense diets.
                                                                                                            5. Obesity is associated with poverty: calorie dense foods are cheap.
                                                                                                            6. Of course people don't choose to be poor or choose their diets. Poverty is a vicious cycle; and the "culture of poverty" in the US most often includes poor nutrition and calorie dense processed foods and soft drinks.
                                                                                                            7. It is uncertain that HFCS is any worse than the amount of sugar people would be consuming were it not for protectionist policies against imported sugar and farm bill supports of corn and, in turn, of HFCS.
                                                                                                            8. The woman in the HFCS add that I saw last week while in DC is really attractive.

                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                              Are you referring the commercial with the woman offering a red popsicle to a guy? It seemed like some Adam and Eve reference... I had the sound off, but image the line went something like "don't worry, God won't strike you down with diebetes if you have just one HFCS popsicle"

                                                                                                              1. re: firecooked

                                                                                                                Yes, that was the one. No, the dialogue was unarmingly natural and loving.

                                                                                                            2. The Corn Refiners Organization ran a full page ad in the Los Angeles Times today lamenting how the media is running a "schmear" campaign against HFCS. Poor them!

                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: mnosyne

                                                                                                                There's one in the Boston Globe today too. They are blanketing the country with mis-information. It makes me crazy that they keep it simple for the people who don't want to read or think too much. "Oh, it says on tv or in the paper that it's ok, so it must be".

                                                                                                                1. re: PrincessBakesALot

                                                                                                                  Specifically what mis-information are you referring to PBAL?

                                                                                                              2. It's funny because I think the people who care about what's in their food have already made up their minds about HFCS. Or, like me, avoid processed foods in general for taste reasons, and minimize their exposure to HFCS as a side benefit.

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: julesrules

                                                                                                                  Once again, that totally ignores the poor who cannot always afford to "care about food". Making those kinds of choices is a privilege, not necessarily extended to everybody in our capilatist society.

                                                                                                                  I think that folks are forgetting just how culpable the government is in not only subsidizing King Korn, but in how the USDA has a revolving door to the corporations they are supposed to regulate - high level staffers simply work at regulating one week and "being regulated" the next - or rather, having direct access and control of the entire process, from designing (GM), growing, refining, chemically enhancing, and marketing their product. There is no oversight to speak of, at all.

                                                                                                                  Those who feel that local governments overstep their roles when banning food products like trans-fats, are missing the point that these local regulations are the last and sometimes only line keeping the corporations and the USDA, acting jointly, from making these highly processed foods an even greater part of the food marketplace. It's all in the name of feeding the world - making cheaper and more ubiquitous food. But the unintended consequences, especially to the poor, are not fully thought out, (or thought out and prioritized below the need for profit), and when they occur, as with the obesity epidemic, they are ignored, or responded to with more marketing, insuring that no blame will be put on their products.

                                                                                                                2. There seems to be a growing awareness of how unhealthy HCFS are, but most people don't know exactly why. These commercials are targeted at these people and try to reassure them that they are misinformed, and should trust the corn growers association. The tone and implied messages in the commercials are demeaning, and almost suggest that people shouldn't worry about eating healthy. It reminds me of Big Brother. I feel patronized. I feel angry. I feel like informing every person I can about the mercenary "corn growers association".

                                                                                                                  12 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: shelybelly

                                                                                                                    It's the "Corn Refiners Association"; a little grass-roots organization:


                                                                                                                    Its members are:
                                                                                                                    Corn Products International
                                                                                                                    National Starch
                                                                                                                    Penford Products
                                                                                                                    Roquette America,
                                                                                                                    Tate & Lyle Ingredients Americas

                                                                                                                    1. re: ferret

                                                                                                                      Thanks for the link.
                                                                                                                      I meant to type refiners, not growers (twice).

                                                                                                                      1. re: ferret

                                                                                                                        wow, no vested interests THERE...just a bunch of farmers in their overalls plowing the back forty. Backbone of America, they are. Cut to shot of corn fields in the setting sun and America the Beautiful playing in the background.

                                                                                                                        I think Pollan has it right. Eat foods as close to their natural state as possible. HFCS is not one of those foods.

                                                                                                                        1. re: coney with everything

                                                                                                                          By this logic beer, wine and cheese would not be on your list of things to eat. These all require the enzymatic conversion of carbohydrates or proteins from their "natural" state into some other form.

                                                                                                                          1. re: kmcarr

                                                                                                                            Oh, give me a break. There's ample room for honest disagreement here, and absolutely no need to insult the intelligence of those you may disagree with or to mischaracterize their arguments.

                                                                                                                            By your logic, bread--which rises through enzymatic action--is "unnatural" too. And what about cooked foods? Cooking converts carbohydrates and proteins from their "natural" state.

                                                                                                                            What Pollan and others (cwe and I included) advocate is not the avoidance of foods that have undergone any processing, it's the avoidance of highly-processed foods. And despite your attempt to conflate the two, there is a real difference.

                                                                                                                            Beer is made by allowing or causing mashed malted grain to come into contact with yeast and letting it ferment for several days. That's the way it's been done since ancient Egyptian times.

                                                                                                                            Wine is made by a similar process. Mash grapes and allow or cause the resulting juice to come into contact with yeast. Thanks again to the ancient Egyptians for writing down the recipe.

                                                                                                                            Cheese is made by introducing milk to an acid or an enzyme (typically a naturally-occurring enzyme such as the rennet in an animal's stomach) and straining out the resulting curds. The process was well-established by the dawn of the Roman Empire.

                                                                                                                            According to Wikipedia, HFCS is made by treating cornstarch with alpha-amylase to produce shorter chains of sugars called oligosaccharides, breaking down those sugar chains to simple glucose with glucoamylase, converting about 42% of the glucose to fructose with xylose isomerase, then enriching the fructose concentration to about 90% through a liquid chromatography step and back-blending the 90% fructose with 42% fructose to achieve the desired fructose level in the final product. Numerous filtration, ion-exchange and evaporation steps are also part of the overall process.

                                                                                                                            Now if you had to characterize one of these processes as "artificial," which one would you pick? (Cue the Sesame Street music: "one of these things is not like the other...")

                                                                                                                            Nobody claims that food shouldn't be processed at all. It's pretty hard to digest wheat unless the chaff is removed. Nixtamalization of corn prevents pellagra. And on and on. But there's a big difference between processed food and highly-processed food. It's the difference between foods that come out of a kitchen and foods that come out of a laboratory.

                                                                                                                            Whether highly-processed food is inherently unhealthy is a question to which no good answer has been provided. My reasons for avoiding the stuff are primarily aesthetic, not health-based. But to claim that HFCS is as "natural" as cheese is just absurd.

                                                                                                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                              Good points, AB, well written - but weren't those ancient Egyptians making HFCS in their back yard? Oops - wrong continent... ok, but I'm sure we'll eventually find those handy but elusive HFCS home chemistry kits in pre-columbian digs...

                                                                                                                              Unlike you, I have no problem at all stepping up the hyperbole...

                                                                                                                              I wonder if the CRA would be honest enough to put in their ads that this highly processed product has been used by mankind (or at least, Americans) since the 1950's - and other than a correlation with an obesity epidemic, and a huge increase in per capita refined carb consumption, there has been no ill effects at all!

                                                                                                                              Wow. 50 years of human experimentation, and no mutants yet. What a great product. What a great and trustworthy industry. No wonder the better living through modern chemistry advocates compare this accomplishment to beer and cheese!

                                                                                                                              No wonder we're not confused. It goes right along with Canola being better than Olive Oil, or the ultimate chemistry faux-pas that was hoisted on us - margarine is better than butter. A few million heart attacks later, we're reconsidering that one... but then there never was proof about those nasty trans-fats - just a 50 year plus correlation of the growth of heart disease as margarine replaced butter in our diets. No epidemiological causality whatsoever, just correlation - just like HFCS. It was just us getting more sedentary, exactly like it's now just us getting a much bigger sweet tooth.

                                                                                                                              And who pulled that one off? Oh... pardon me... it was the corn chemistry industry who so thoroughly inundated their regulatory agency, (the USDA) that they got to do whatever they wanted, say whatever they wanted to say, sell whatever they wanted to sell. And thanks to dubya and his crew, guess what the USDA looks like now?

                                                                                                                              Listen - when the drooling, nasty looking geezer with his zipper open says' "trust me" - and you know he's molested before - you don't go running to him. Unless you have a baseball bat or a gun.

                                                                                                                              These ads are obscene. The fact that there's no regulatory agency to pull them off the air and out of print is even more obscene. I can prove that they're lying - their mouths are moving.

                                                                                                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                Well written post. I would be interested to read about the history of the FDA and the long list of harmful additives they have allowed on the food market for the past 50 years. I'm still dumbfounded by aspartame, and how people think it's okay. Hey, here's this product that is still under debate amongst scientists! Here's this product that, when administered to lab rats, causes formaldehyde-bound protein to accumulate in the brain and digestive organs! Let's put in every diet drink on earth...

                                                                                                                                I haven't seen it mentioned, though I've mostly skimmed this board, but for those that think HFCS is okay, do you think the gigantic aquatic dead zone in the gulf of Mexico is okay? Do you think it's okay to wipe out an entire ecosystem and food source?

                                                                                                                                If anyone can honestly say that they support the use of HFCS, they severely need to do some reading. Information>opinions

                                                                                                                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                    Alan, you see an insult where none was intended. I know the processes for making wine, beer cheese and HFCS. You state in your reply "There's a big difference between foods processed food and highly-processed food." My point I was trying to make (perhaps clumsily) is that the difference between beer and HFCS is only a matter of degree, and I don't believe the the difference in degree in this case is a cause for any health concerns.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: kmcarr

                                                                                                                                      If you truly believe that a millennia old process that has been done and products consumed in homes all that time is a matter of degree difference compared to a 50 year old chemistry set nightmare, you are indeed lost. One has passed the test of time, the other - not so much.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: kmcarr

                                                                                                                                        I agree that it's a matter of degree in processing. But the difference between a cozy fire in the hearth and a three-alarm blaze that destroys your home is just a matter of degree, too.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: kmcarr

                                                                                                                                      If it were as straight forward as making moonshine, we humans would have done it ages ago. Here's a sampling of descriptions on the manufacturing processes from the HFCS proponents, a neutral site, and a more anti-HFCS group. They are all pretty consistant - easy? Maybe if your Cargill or Archer Daniels Midland...


                                                                                                                              2. the commercial is creepy. i think by now we are somewhat aware that the corn lobby in this country is giant and HFCS is replacing sugar in just about everything.

                                                                                                                                i'm not all scientific like some others who chimed in but i can say a few things being diabetic. I have gestational diabetes from my pregnancy and completely insulin resistant so i shoot insulin 4 times a day. i test my blood glucose levels 4-8 times a day. 4 is required the other 4 times is just for fun ;)

                                                                                                                                every time i eat a whole wheat bun from my local burger place my blood sugar shoots up. one day i asked to see the packaging and sure enough it has HFCS. so i took the burger home and replaced the bun with another WW version but made with brown rice syrup and my blood glucose stayed level. now i also want to mention that the brown rice syrup was the 3rd ingredient and the HFCS on the burger place bun was about the 5th ingredient meaning the former has a higher sugar content.

                                                                                                                                when i have pure honey, sugar it's all the same. my blood shoots up the same. so sometimes i'd like to believe that all sweeteners are created equal and that would include HFCS. but i suppose my point is that whenever i have any food with HFCS my blood glucose tends to run on the very high side. where as something like brown syrup or simple sugar or honey in breads seems to be processed by my body more efficiently.

                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. re: trolley

                                                                                                                                  My mom is similar. When she goes on crap food for a while (senior lunches, fast food, junk food), her blood sugar skyrockets. When we pull her back from the crap food abyss and up the quality (better restaurants, home cooking, real bakeries), she levels out. Borderline diabetic when she supports the HFCS lobby, normal person when we take her ADM booster card away...

                                                                                                                                2. Just thought it was interesting to see that our friends at the Corn Refiners Association wrote a letter to the New York Daily News yesterday in an effort to continue their march of propaganda:


                                                                                                                                  It is the second letter down, under the heading, How Sweet It Is...

                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: Justpaula

                                                                                                                                    Thanks for the NY Daily News link. I looked up the AMA statement that the letter cites.
                                                                                                                                    The AMA conclusion:
                                                                                                                                    "Conclusions. Because the composition of HFCS and sucrose are so similar, particularly on absorption by the body, it appears unlikely that HFCS contributes more to obesity or other conditions than sucrose. ... At the present time, there is insufficient evidence to restrict use of HFCS or other fructose-containing sweeteners in the food supply or to require the use of warning labels on products containing HFCS.
                                                                                                                                    The part I clipped cites the need for long term studies into how various sweeteners relate to conditions like obesity.

                                                                                                                                    However, in contrast to research done on this thread, they did not 'just google HFCS'. They did a literature search in PubMed, and consulted selected web sites: "Web sites managed by federal and world health agencies, and applicable professional and advocacy organizations". They evidently missed the most important ones ;)

                                                                                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                      The historical problem with "created" foods over the last 50-100 years is generally what we DON'T know.

                                                                                                                                  2. Food Network should be ashamed of themselves. HFCS certainly isn't the worst thing you could put in your body, but it is a processed food. It also is used too much, and adds un-necessary calories to foods which could stand to bee a bit less sweet IMHO, even if sugar were used. Honestly, do you think anyone would notice if their can of soda were 10% less sweet? I doubt it. The biggest concern I have is the over abundance of corn products in our diets. It's everywhere that it doesn't need to be. And don't even get me started on ethanol production from corn (this isn't the forum for that anyway).

                                                                                                                                    Michael Pollan pretty much got the ball rolling on this issue, and deservedly so. It's something which has to be discussed. There is no reason for the HFSC industry to be so big. We could find more economical ways to farm vegetables and cane in order to get sugar. It's never good when any one industry becomes too big.

                                                                                                                                    21 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: madgreek

                                                                                                                                      Are you arguing that Iowa corn farmers should switch crops?

                                                                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                        I don't know enough about corn farming to make such a statement. Why? Would that be a bad thing? Are they not supposed to rotate with soybeans to keep the soil fertile? I'm not quite sure what you're getting at, and it seems like a baited question.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: madgreek

                                                                                                                                          I was just trying to picture Iowa growing sugar cane or winter vegetables. Sugar beets is a more likely sugar crop.

                                                                                                                                          Part of why corn syrup use is high in the USA is due to sugar quotas or tariffs which protect US cane sugar growers. Do you think we should be subsidizing cane sugar instead?

                                                                                                                                          I don't know the details of corn growing in the USA, but rotation with things like soy beans probably is practiced.

                                                                                                                                          I looked up corn and soybeans on wiki.
                                                                                                                                          US corn production is 280 million metric tons, about 40% of world production (692).
                                                                                                                                          US soybean production is 87 mmt, again about 40% of world production (221).

                                                                                                                                          For comparison,
                                                                                                                                          wheat is 57/626 mmt; (US/world)
                                                                                                                                          rice 9/635;
                                                                                                                                          sugar cane 27/1011; (Brazil around 500)
                                                                                                                                          beet sugar 25/242 (France and Germany both produce more)

                                                                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                            I can't speak for all farmers but I can speak for the one who farms the fields by my house. The one directly next door is rotated with corn one year and soybeans the next........has been this way for four years.

                                                                                                                                            There are two fields across the road.....one with a pond and lots of wildlife where they simply grow hay. The other is rotated with corn, soybeans,and wheat.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: madgreek

                                                                                                                                            Although soy beans are a legume; and legumes fix atmospheric nitrogen, the harvesting of the soybeans provides very little in the way of residual soil nutrients.

                                                                                                                                          3. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                            What do you think they would do to stay profitable if the Government subsidies stopped? What was wrong with the multi-purpose farms that had existed in an ecologically balanced manner, for over a century before Nixon and Butz decided to subsidize corn, and to give Cargill, ADM and their friends at the USDA virtual total control over the lives and lands in Iowa and that part of the country - all for the sake of becoming the world's food supplier (if we get them in the stomach, their minds and hearts will follow).

                                                                                                                                            And now that we've achieved the political objective of making world food dependent on cheap (subsidized) US corn, we're going to cut their feet out from under them by switching from food crops to fuel crops. Hey - corn is corn - whoever is paying the most, chooses the tune.

                                                                                                                                            The latest reports indicate that the chemistry is neutral - HFCS does no more harm inside the body than Sucrose - although why our hair has so much corn derivative content in it is yet to be explained, and whether or not that is having any effects beyond the equivalence to Sucrose is unknown. And based on these latest studies, the CRA (ADM and friends) are out there throwing around their ill-gotten gains to whitewash themselves. But forget the chemistry. The real factor is the availability and ubiquity of cheap corn in everything we eat, from HFCS to corn-fed beef.

                                                                                                                                            Correlation (to obesity and diabetes) cannot be waved off with some sort of magic trick or great waves of propaganda. As with heart disease and margarine, the correlations can be established even beyond isolating other factors, such as more sedentary life styles (eg - isolating those that exercise and looking only at their statistics).

                                                                                                                                            But correlation is not causation, so there is no proof. So we just go on with this grand American life style - we eat more and more processed foods, more and more corn based products which we subsidize, willingly or not, through our taxes, and watch the people that are doing this put adds on TV justifying themselves and their profits.

                                                                                                                                            I tell you what - if CRA is so dedicated to their wonderful product which does the world so much good, let's see their leaders put their money where their mouths are. Why don't they pledge to turn back every dollar of US Government subsidy, and to take a $1 salary for the next 5 years (CEO, COO, CFO, etc... of each CRA member) to prove to us that plain old greed over filthy lucre isn't behind their stupid ads.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                              Can't speak for paulj, but that's EXACTLY what I'm arguing. Corn has been grown in the midwest for a long time, and should continue to be grown there. But the last 20 years have seen the demise of anything resembling a polyculture.

                                                                                                                                              Corn and soybeans are now the only crops grown in large parts of the country. And the reason for that domination is market manipulation by the Federal government at the behest of the members of the Corn Refiners Association.

                                                                                                                                              Without the feds fixing prices, farmers in Iowa would certainly switch crops. Not to sugar cane (it's a tropical plant), but to a mix of the dozens if not hundreds of crops that were grown there before the fix went in. Including--but no longer limited to--corn.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                I looked up corn statistics for Iowa at USDA-NASS
                                                                                                                                                I think 'harvested acres' would be a good indicator of crop mix over the years.
                                                                                                                                                2008 - 12,900 thousand acres
                                                                                                                                                1998 - 12,200
                                                                                                                                                1988 - 10,700 (but 12,250 in 1989
                                                                                                                                                )1978 - 12,850
                                                                                                                                                1968 - 9,775 (but 11,145 in 1967 )
                                                                                                                                                1958 - 9,782 (but 12139 in 1959 )
                                                                                                                                                1948 - 10,732
                                                                                                                                                1917 - 10,500

                                                                                                                                                I'm not seeing a significant change over these years, except that it has been consistently above 11,000 since 1990. Yields have increased significantly, from around 60 in 1948 to 160 now. While average $/bu have gone up, in 1947 it was $2.19, and $1.94 in 2005 - which is probably a big drop in inflation adjusted terms.

                                                                                                                                                Soybeans have had a greater upward trend, though recent acreages of around 8,000 thousand are about the same in the 1980s.

                                                                                                                                                Oats had a peak of 6,000 thousand acres in the 1930s, but have dropped off since the 1950s, with current production below that of 1866. Quaker Oat has (had?) their headquarters in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, but oat demand really dropped off once tractors replaced horses.

                                                                                                                                                Should I check some other crops?

                                                                                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                  ADM/Cargill & co. control the entire corn growing process, from seed to harvesting and processing. They GM the corn to their spec, and insure that only the new seeds are sold to the farmers for growth that year. When farmers refuse to buy from them, they are sued and forced to destroy entire crops, because neighboring acreage growing "natural" corn or even a previous version of their own GM corn could cross-pollinate their most recent batch, and this negatively affects yield or glucose content or whatever particular feature they are breeding for at the time.

                                                                                                                                                  Small farms, that used to be family owned and run, that maintained a balanced eco-cycle, by using livestock to naturally clear fields, and other centuries old synergistic techniques, can no longer operate there - they are not profitable. They have been sold to larger coops and conglomerates that operate at the whim of ADM/Cargill, and are highly specialized.

                                                                                                                                                  The very land has been affected - the runoff of nitrogen and other concentrated chemicals that are used to create these completely unnatural yields has turned the land toxic to animals. You couldn't raise pigs there any more, even if you wanted to.

                                                                                                                                                  It's called factory farming. Welcome to the Brave New World.

                                                                                                                                                  I think that your vain attempts to cite statistics fall right in there with Twain's definition of the word. The facts at hand go way beyond whatever numbers you decide to cite. You sound exactly like those few, irrelevant and bought-off scientists that keep saying that Global Warming a) is not happening, and b) if it is, it's not humanity's fault. Here's some numbers to prove it.

                                                                                                                                                  If you do not wish to read Pollan, you should at least just rent and watch the DVD, King Corn - it's entertaining, even if you don't believe a word.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                    Funny you should compare me to Global Warming deniers, since I've argued the other side on other forums.

                                                                                                                                                    The numbers that I found do not address the issue of diversity within the corn crop, and I never claimed they did. I was looking at the narrow question of whether a 'mix of the dozens if not hundreds of crops' existed in the past in this state. I am not trying to defend government policy or actions of the big businesses. Please refrain from casting me as a 'bought out' scientist.

                                                                                                                                                    While searching for the USDA numbers I found some number on the uses of the corn crop. The two largest uses were animal feed and exports (in that order). The numbers for human food (corn meal etc), and derivatives (starch, HCFS etc) are well below the third ranked ethonol production. So why is HFCS the whipping boy instead of corn and beef? More of my dollars flow to ADM/Cargill via the pork I buy than via the small amount of corn sweeteners in my diet. There are a few threads about the relative taste merits of corn fed v. grass fed beef, but they don't seem to excite the anti-big business passions as much as these HFCS threads.

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                    Thanks for the link. Instead of looking at individual data points (production in a given year in a particular state), I took the total number of acres of corn harvested each year in the US and averaged by decade. The trend is pretty evident: 57 million acres in the '60s, 68 million in the '70s, 66 million in the '80s, 70 million in the '90s, and 74 million so far this decade. That's about a 30% increase over the last half-century.

                                                                                                                                                    Meanwhile, total farmland in the US has decreased by somewhere around 25%, so the prevalence of corn as a crop has increased even more dramatically than the absolute number of acres planted. Although I wasn't able to find much in the way of data, something like 5% of all farmland was used for growing corn in the '60s. By the '90s, that number was around 8% - a 60% increase, and it's still going up.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                      I focused on Iowa because it has long had a reputation as a corn growing state, and I wondered if farmers would readily switch to other crops if corn didn't have subsidies. Most of that growth in national acreage has probably occurred in states where corn has not been so dominant. Texas, for example, shows such a growth. I wonder what crops were displaced there.

                                                                                                                                                      The Texas sugar cane numbers look fairly stable, so it doesn't look like corn is displacing cane. Nor does it appear to be displacing sugar beets in states like Minnesota and North Dakota.

                                                                                                                                                      What has driven the growth in corn growing? Price per bushel as gone down in adjusted dollars, at least up to 2005. I suspect that growth in yield with hybrids and GM varieties has been a big factor. Over the last 30 years or so, have the yields for corn grown faster than for most other crops?

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                        What has driven the growth in corn growing is the billions of dollars of taxpayer money that the feds give to corn farmers each year, artificially depressing the price of everything from meat (which is raised on corn) to processed foods (which are almost entirely composed of corn and corn by-products) to soft drinks (which are sweetened with HFCS).

                                                                                                                                                        FWIW, most corn is not grown to produce sweeteners. HFCS is only one of the hundreds of substances that are derived from corn. So the shift to corn is unlikely to have an exaggerated impact on sugar crops. Instead, every crop that's raised anyplace where corn can also be grown may potentially be displaced.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                          "processed foods (which are almost entirely composed of corn and corn by-products) "
                                                                                                                                                          Really? Maybe I am thinking of different 'processed' foods than you are. Corn chips, cheetos, yes. Potato chips? Canned soups? A lot do have some corn products, but 'almost entirely' is quite a different thing.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                            Potato chips aren't that highly processed - just potatoes fried in oil. (Although if the manufacturer uses corn oil, a significant percentage of the calories will still come from corn.) Processed foods, including most fast food, are overwhelmingly corn-based, especially when you consider that industrially-raised meat is basically just corn on the hoof.

                                                                                                                                                            Hair analysis is a good way to trace what we eat. There was some news coverage a while back when Todd Dawson, a plant biologist at UC - Berkeley, had his hair tested before and after a three-month visit to Italy: in America, nearly 70% of the carbon in his diet came from corn; in Italy, it was about 5%. The guys who made the movie "King Corn" underwent the same testing, and although I don't remember the exact numbers, they were over 50%. So "almost entirely" may be hyperbole, but it isn't too far from the truth.

                                                                                                                                                            You might find Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma" interesting reading.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                              Is there a good description of this 'corn hair' test? One that discusses what it can and cannot determine? I found a response to review of 'King Corn' that claims the test only distinguishes C4 plant sources from C3 ones, and thus cannot distinguish between corn and sugar cane. Can the tests distinguish between wheat and rice dominated diets?

                                                                                                                                                              Here's a favorable review of King Corn, and counter-view. I can't verify the claims in the counter-view, but it does raise some worthwhile issues.
                                                                                                                                                              In particular I was struck by this claim:
                                                                                                                                                              " These grain staples, including corn, wheat, rice, barley and sorghum, produce collectively 90% of the calories required by human beings worldwide."
                                                                                                                                                              The HFCS debate pits corn derived sugars against cane ones, and high sugar diets against 'healthy' ones. But what if we compare a corn dominated diet (modern US, an Italian “polentone” diet, traditional Mexican) to a wheat (pasta, bread), or rice dominated one (much of Asia)?

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                          Genetic modifications to corn for the most part don't lead to increased yields but to lower input costs. Bt genes reduce the need for pesticides; while "roundup ready" means reduced weed control costs. Traditionally bred maizes, after all, formed a part of the Green Revolution in the 60s.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                        Ok, like I said, my knowledge of corn farming is minimal. But, at the risk of sounding like an idiot, why did I just pick come corn from a local field about two hours ago, and notice that it was dried out and not at all edible for humans? The date is Sep 27th, 2008. Is it meant for livestock? WTF?

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: madgreek

                                                                                                                                                          Where are you? Around here (new england) it's pretty much past the growing season - anything left standing would be going to seed. (unless, of course, you're planning to buy new gm/hybrid seed from the your friendly neighborhood CRA outlet...) Livestock get field corn as vs. sweet corn - it could be left to dry out for seed or feed - but nobody would knowingly sell it or offer it to be picked if that's what their doing with it.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                            Northeast Ohio. Ok, I see. It must be for seed or feed then. In my area, much of the corn is used for feed. It is just unusual for me to see corn still growing in a field when it's nearly October. Actually, it's more likely that I just hadn't noticed in previous years.

                                                                                                                                                            It wasn't being offered for sale, I just grabbed a cob because curiosity got the best of me while sitting at a stop sign, noticing the highest corn plants I've ever seen.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: madgreek

                                                                                                                                                              I'd bet what you picked was field corn. Here in northeastern Indiana, sweet corn fields for human consumption are usually a bit more hidden because people will steal the entire crop.......just stop their cars and go out and pick as much as they want. I've known farmers to plant huge fields of field corn (used for animal feed, cornmeal, etc) and put a patch of sweet corn in the middle so it's hard to find unless you know where it is.

                                                                                                                                                              We get sweet corn around here in July-August, depending on the weather. This year it was in August for the corn we grew but others did have it in July. The field corn is left to dry on the stalk and is harvested around this time of year. In fact, the field by my house hasn't been harvested yet. You'll see areas where they've harvested a row or so and then left it. They test it for moisture content and if it has too much moisture, it has to be left in the field for a bit longer.

                                                                                                                                                2. Typical FN say one thing 9Fresh food health) and takes money for the oposite (Fast-food, HFCS)

                                                                                                                                                  Like Guy haveing a show about mom and pop opporations then doing add for TGIF. Or RR and Dunkin Doughnuts.

                                                                                                                                                  1. You may be interested to see this article by Marion Nestle. She's a nutrition professor and somebody that I respect a great deal. She states her views about HFCS and touches upon the new ad campaign. Her view of HFCS AND SUGARS in general is not moderation, but to eat less of it -- which reminds me that I've got a thread about what moderation means to them. I'd appreciate to hear your input. "Moderation" is such a buzz word these days -- but what does it really mean?



                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                                                                                      Her book, What To Eat, is DEFINITELY a worthwhile read for anoyone who grocery shops or has any interest in food, food safety, and nutrition.


                                                                                                                                                    2. This WHO/Europe page indicates the obesity is a worry there, despite the fact that HFCS consumption is low (due to beet sugar protecting quotas)
                                                                                                                                                      "Its prevalence has tripled in many countries in the WHO European Region since the 1980s, and the numbers of those affected continue to rise at an alarming rate, particularly among children."

                                                                                                                                                      Without a single bogeyman to blame, they appear to be taking a broad look at the problem, addressing issues such as activity levels, and overall nutrition.

                                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                        Well then, thank goodness we can save time and focus on a single culprit! We're way ahead of the curve on this one. Would it be a major surprise if the ubiquity of King Corn pushed us down this path and Europe followed, as they often do, in chasing our lifestyles and diet. It would be of no surprise to anyone if Europe found out that it's the American lifestyle that's making them fat.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: coney with everything

                                                                                                                                                            This is a great quote: “Some diet,” interjected her father. “We’re trying to keep her off sugar now. If we continue like this, we’re going to become like Americans, and no one wants that.”

                                                                                                                                                      2. I just saw the movie "Michael Clayton" it reminded me of this thread. I haven't seen the commericial yet for HFCS, but I can imagine it's in the same style as the "U North" Commercial in the film.

                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: michele cindy

                                                                                                                                                          It's some woman handing her husband a popsicle and telling him it's sweetened with corn. HFCS is fine in moderation or something like that. Of course I saw it after turning my TV on after a workout- go figure.

                                                                                                                                                        2. Well - you don't have to go far to see these ads now. It's a sponsored link on Chowhound. I'd put the link here - but why should I help - it's right there on the right.

                                                                                                                                                          All you chemists and pro-corn lobbyists ought to be really happy that there is some justice in the world.

                                                                                                                                                          All the AMA and other medical research groups can say at any time is what is known. They can't speak to the unknown. The latest set of studies say that corn products are relatively safe - and perhaps, in terms of the molecular impact, as we can see right now, they are.

                                                                                                                                                          But the link of Trans-fats to heart disease is now taken as absolute. And yet, it was written about for years before the current acceptance. More to the point, the terrible impact of Corn oil based margarine, the main source of trans-fats in America for the last century, was correlated to heart disease more than 50 years ago, and yet, without the specific trans-fat tie-in, was never considered dangerous. The absolute truth of the matter is that Americans would have been better off, for the last century, in terms of less heart disease, if corn oil based margarine had not replaced butter to the degree it had in our diets.

                                                                                                                                                          So what's in HFCS? We can sit and argue all day that science proves that it is safe. "Science" has proven a lot of things in our lifetime and in human history that has turned out to be false - that's the very nature of science - to experiment, to research, to increase our knowledge. And as our knowledge increases, we believe that something is true for a while. Some things hold their truthfulness for a lot longer than others. At this point, Evolution seems to be pretty sound - I'd bet on that. But HFCS being safe? I guess the CRA members are betting their lives on it - me, not so much. I hate very much that the CRA and its followers are pushing their product onto all of us - to the point that the poor have less and less choice to avoid it.

                                                                                                                                                          My final point is that although this is a food site, we are all politcal creatures to some extent. Science and statistical analysis, as presented to the public, doesn't exist in some purity, held aloft from political influence. The CRA is a political organization intent on raising the profits of its members. On a site where we police the threads to insure that there are no blatantly commercial posts, especially underhanded and "sneaky" ones that are subterfuge, the existence of this link is like serving us drek. It is subterfuge of the worst kind, and it is a sad thing to see our fellow hounds supporting the CRA's efforts.

                                                                                                                                                          What will we see next? Perhaps the CRA will take out ads saying that some of the most knowledgable foodies on the most venerable Chowhound site support their advertising and efforts to sell more corn products to America and the world. In fact, the site supports them by carrying their ads. Well... it's the truth, isn't it?

                                                                                                                                                          One of the oldest political truisms is that if you say something loud enough and long enough, people will believe that it must be true. So why is the CRA being so loud?

                                                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                            "One of the oldest political truisms is that if you say something loud enough and long enough, people will believe that it must be true. So why is the CRA being so loud?"

                                                                                                                                                            Boy, I've never seen this truism played out further than recently - say Sept. 1 - Sept. 4? Hmmm - what was going on then? Let me look on my calendar... I bet the CRA was there in full force selling their popsicles to those so high on Alaska - Hey look - you can see Russia! :)

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                              “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."

                                                                                                                                                              Joseph Goebbels

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: coney with everything

                                                                                                                                                                Reminds me of another one from the same EVIL one: “The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly - it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over”

                                                                                                                                                              2. Well - the sponsored ads have equalized! Right after an ad for the HFCS people, there's one for diabetes.libertymedical.com. Perfect.

                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                                  And a Whey Low ad:
                                                                                                                                                                  "Whey Low® contains fructose, which is obtained from corn, and lactose, which is obtained from whey or milk. " There may be other, unspecified, sugars in it.

                                                                                                                                                                2. I love this, my boss' twins had to take a state mandated fairly comprehensive exam this fall. The school was providing snacks during breaks. Eric read the package labels of everything the school was provided and refused all of it. HFCS were rampant and he was not eating any of it. Pretty good for a 9 yr old.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. Seeing that my wife and I made everything from scratch (sauces and dips included), that knocks down our aggravation of finding products that are void of HFCS. It's more than a "High Calorie" scare back in the day as flourgirl says. This is a man-made chemical that somehow became the popular ingredient for most food companies......How? I don't know. Who was the first retard to say, "Gee, I wish we had another form of sugar....natural, just ain't good enough".

                                                                                                                                                                      1. I wonder what Jillian's body does with the fructose half of each sucrose molecule.

                                                                                                                                                                        While pure fructose stimulates hormone production in different ways than glucose, the most common form of HFCS (55) has roughly the same balance of fructose and glucose as sugar (and honey). I just glanced through a 2007 article in the journal Nutrition (Melanson etal 23, 103-112), which found, in a randomized, double blind test, 'no significant difference between the two sweeteners' [HFCS55 and Sucrose), on fasting plasma levels of glucose, insulin, leptin and ghrelin. These sweeteners were consumed as part of the beverages in an day's worth of meals under controled circumstances.

                                                                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                          Unarguable: Cheap sweeteners made us fat. Solution? Eat less sweetened food, regardless of what's used to sweeten it. Don't want to be fat? Eat less calories than you burn. Removing some calories from our prepared foods might not be such a bad thing to do.

                                                                                                                                                                          Just how did sweeteners get to be so cheap and so ubiquitous? Like it or not, HFCS and subsidies to corn had a lot to do with it. You don't want Cargill, ADM and the USDA to get the blame? Why, because they had nothing to do with it? We just became sedentary and began to eat sweeteners at an increasing rate because the planets happend to line up in the right places, right? GIVE ME A BREAK! This is capitalism, laissez-faire style. ADM, Gargill, and USDA policy towards corn may have done some good over the years, but they undoubtedly created a lot of unintended consequences. A fatter America was one of them.

                                                                                                                                                                          The research is at a particular point that seems to indicate that the proper ratio of the two simple molecules, as opposed to the single molecule of a diglyceride, makes no difference to human metabolism. But not all the HFCS being commercially used in our food is the proper ratio (55). It's a complex subject, with many studies done by many different groups with many different self-interests. When the next study hits the public that contradicts what's out there now, there will be another wave of articles and ads - and there will be more defenders and detractors. The "science" will be argued forever until there is some sort of acceptable definitive answer - which may be never.

                                                                                                                                                                          What's unarguable is that we are obese and that we eat a lot of this stuff. It wouldn't do us any harm to quit eating so much, to see it removed from a lot of our prepared foods. You and your references may be scientifically right, for the moment, but that doesn't make it right.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                                            My homage to Nora Desmond:

                                                                                                                                                                            It wasn't the HFCS that got cheap, it was the sugar that got expensive. The government fixed the price of U.S. sugar at roughly 3X the world market price and forced a switch to HFCS.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                                              The HFCS that bakers prefer typically has a lower fructose proportion, because they want the moisturizing qualities of glucose. Matching the sweetness of sugar syrup is not important in those products.

                                                                                                                                                                              Apparently HFCS can be made with a 90% fructose component, but that is usually blended with regular CS (mostly glucose) to produce the desired taste.

                                                                                                                                                                              I've wondered why agave syrup gets a free ride, since it gets its low glycemic index from a high fructose content. Some sources give it a 90/10 fructose/glucose ratio.

                                                                                                                                                                              Here's one web site that questions the value of agave

                                                                                                                                                                              Here's a recent news article that quotes Melanson

                                                                                                                                                                              Melanson says that while many fruits are relatively high in fructose (compared to glucose), the overall quantity of the sweetener is low.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. So... does everyone here use organic ketchup?

                                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: iwearmysunglassesatnight

                                                                                                                                                                                I do.

                                                                                                                                                                                And sometimes I even make my own.

                                                                                                                                                                                Mr Taster