You’ve probably seen the slew of Corn Refiners’ Association commercials supposedly dispelling myths about high-fructose corn syrup. They all start with a snooty character telling another that HFCS is bad for you, but are unable to substantiate their claims. They are left speechless while their opponent defends the pervasive sweetener, saying it’s no worse for you than regular sugar. An article on high-fructose corn syrup, worth reading, states:
Let’s review: HFCS isn’t healthy, but there’s no reason to believe it’s any worse for you than cane or beet sugar; HFCS is just as “natural” as any other sweetener, at least according to the U.S. government; and while HFCS seems to have a slightly different taste from pure sucrose, many people prefer it. So why are we abandoning high-fructose corn syrup? It doesn’t matter how weak each claim is on its own terms; together, they seem irrefutable. You can win over hypochondriacs with one argument, environmentalists with another, and gourmands with a third. That’s the beauty of the three-pronged critique: It’s customizable. The foodies haven’t just killed HFCS—they’ve stuck a fork in it.
You could probably skip reading the article altogether, since that paragraph sums it up nicely. But what the author misses is that, while these points may be true – that it may or may not be any worse for you than regular sugar, that it adhere’s to the government’s definition of “natural,” and that people like how it tastes – the reason high-fructose corn syrup is so despised by health experts is because it is everywhere. You cannot escape it. The ingredient has invaded most processed food on grocery store shelves – even in unexpected places, like tomato sauce and crackers. One of the points made in the commercials is that HFCS “is fine in moderation” – but, the thing is, you can’t eat it in moderation, especially for the average American, subsisting on many processed foods. And, if Michael Pollan is right, the production of HFCS is worse for the environment than regular sugar.
It seems that the debate on HFCS is far from over.