HFCS – High Fructose Corn Syrup (or what I call “Here Fatty Consume Some”)

If you are what you eat, then surely we will be a nation of (sweetened) corn on the cob within the next decade.  High Fructose Corn Syrup is in everything.  I know this because I actually did a little research for this post.  A quick Google search for “high fructose corn syrup” results in page after page of foods with and without HFCS, definitions, health risks and more.

After skimming all of the chemically-technical stuff at Wikipedia, I found this:

“The past 35 years have seen a rise in obesity as well as an increase in added sugars in commonly consumed foods. This increase in obesity is believed to be linked to the increased consumption of added sugars in food, specifically high-fructose corn syrup. Extensive research has been conducted to study high-fructose corn syrup and its effect on body weight.

According to Ferder, Ferder & Inserra, fructose consumption and obesity are linked because fructose consumption does not cause an insulin response. This is important because, without an insulin response after consumption of a high-fructose food, there is no suppression of appetite which is normally induced by hyperinsulinemia after a meal. If there is no satiety or suppression of appetite occurring, then the person will continue eating or overeating as the case may be. This is linked with obesity because excess calories are converted and stored as fat, and when this process continues over a long period of time it results in obesity.

The Corn Refiners Association launched an aggressive advertising campaign to counter these criticisms, claiming that high-fructose corn syrup is natural since it’s ‘made from grain corn’ and ‘is nutritionally the same as honey and table sugar’.”

But the fact is, it’s not.  And it’s everywhere.  The length of this list – last updated two-and-a-half years ago – is staggering.  Watch 15 minutes of Food, Inc. and you’ll see just how dependent this nation’s food chain is on corn – feed and syrup.

HFCS isn’t just in your soda. You can find it in yogurt, juice, bread, ketchup, bacon, and a host of other products.  My a-ha moment came almost a year ago when I was casually scanning the ingredients of my fat-free half and half.  Surprise!  It may have been fat-free but the number one ingredient was High Fructose Corn Syrup.  I switched back to full fat half and half the next week.  I figured that 2 tablespoons of pure fat was better than something that could be attributed to the alarming increase in child and adult obesity.

Each day, the average American unwittingly consumes over 11 teaspoons of HCFS—that’s 38 pounds every year and it accounts for nearly half the amount of sweetener used in the U.S. annually.  Made from federally subsidized corn, HFCS is cheaper than regular sugar. But corn requires more fertilizers and pesticides than other crops; and constant production weakens topsoil and pollutes watersheds.

Critics say HFCS is to blame for ballooning obesity rates in the U.S. Others say it is no worse than sugar, and that both are harmful in large amounts. Who is right?

I personally think that it’s more important to eat natural food than something that is overly processed and so prevalent in our food.  And while I’m not a food chemist or scientist, or seed manufacturer, or lobbyist, or specialist in this field at all, I do go with what my gut tells me.  And my gut (and brain for that matter) tells me that we are, after all, natural beings who – for thousands of years – have thrived on the food nature provided.

I for one prefer natural diversity, and above all, taste in my food.

10 comments on “HFCS – High Fructose Corn Syrup (or what I call “Here Fatty Consume Some”)

  1. Tracy
    January 27, 2011 at 11:39 am #

    Of all the things my son reacts to, HFCS is the worst. He literally reacts as though he has been given a mind-altering drug. No HFCS in his diet means no scary rage followed by a crash and withdrawal-like depression. I’m sad that he had to experience this, but it really opened our eyes to how many things it is in and that it is not a benign or natural substance!

    Obviously I’m not on the “it’s just like sugar” bandwagon anyway, but I’m glad to see you speaking up and sharing a well-thought out view. 🙂

    • Heather
      January 27, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

      Yeah, I can see that a drug trip for a seven-year old might be super-scary. I’m glad you figured out what was causing it. Thanks for sharing your experience. I hope that more and more people will begin to realize the obscene amount of altered foods that exist in most of our daily diets.

  2. Harry Weisberger
    January 27, 2011 at 11:52 am #

    The reason HFCS is cheaper than cane sugar is because the domestically sugar producers have for many years been the beneficiaries of huge federal price support of their product. That’s why the price of domestic U.S. sugar is twice that of sugar grown and refined outside the U.S. The “foreign” sugar is brought into line, price-wise, with the domestic product via a stiff import tariff.

    Your ol’ Dad submits that this is just one more example of why agricultural price supports – i.e. “corporate welfare” for mega-agribusiness – should be discontinued.

    • Heather
      January 27, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

      Um yeah. It was a good thing you summed it up at the end with, “this is just one more example of why agricultural price supports – i.e. ‘corporate welfare’ for mega-agribusiness – should be discontinued” or I was going to have to go all Google link crazy on you with proof that the entire corporate ag structure (including corn) is jacked up. As always though, thanks for your feedback!

  3. Eric Shunk
    January 28, 2011 at 7:00 am #

    Heather, hallelujah!! Thanks for spreading the good word. HFCS is the root of all evil, and has become an FLA (four letter acronym) for the government itself, it seems. It’s truly astounding where HFCS can be found (I found some stuck on the stall floor in my work’s bathroom) and I think it even hacked Mark Z’s Facebook account! Seriously though, I hate the stuff, and avoid it as much as possible. This was a great topic for your blog, emphasizing more reasons to cook naturally at home. Tracy’s comments above highlight an entirely different issue and possibly even more troubling side effect of an HFCS OD, and that is its behavioral effects on younger humans. Yes, the obesity epidemic is scary and expensive…but IMHO, the unknown sociological effects of a generation of HFCS addicts is still potentially worse.

    Keep up the great posts!!

    • Heather
      January 28, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

      Thanks for sharing your humble opinion, Eric! I agree that the prevalence of HFCS in our foods probably has farther reaching consequences than just the obesity issue I raised here. However, in the interest of brevity I elected to address just one of the many issues associated with using HFCS. Thanks to you and Tracy for expanding the issue here.

  4. Vanessa Turnage
    January 28, 2011 at 12:31 pm #

    Thank you so much for sending this out! Such good information to have!

    • Heather
      January 28, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

      Thanks for sharing it!

  5. Christa
    January 31, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

    Here’s your mission should you choose to accept it. Start gathering a list of food or brand substitutions we can use to avoid HFCS. I may dislike the stuff but I still have to feed my kids and make their lunches and keep a budget. Products like peanut butter, jelly (I already use the reduced sugar version, but I’ve never looked for HFCS on the label), yougart (esp. in tubes–been serving the “Simply Yougart” from Yoplait, but haven’t checked for HFCS), breads, hot dogs, ketchup, granola bars, oatmeal, cereal, soup, lunch meat, chips, cheese sticks, pasta and rice mixes, tomato sauce, chili, etc.

    Even if you just post ’em as you find them, it would be helpful!

    • Heather
      February 2, 2011 at 3:44 pm #

      It took me a few days to ponder this challenge but after mulling it over I wanted to thank you for giving me a wonderful idea for a series of posts. Stay tuned for my “Eating Healthy on a Budget” series (or something like that.) Of course, it’s going to take a little research (and I might be sending you a quick survey to help out) but I’m excited! Thanks!

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