Photo by boeke
Grocery shopping has never been fun for me, but not long ago, it used to be quick and relatively painless. Now, if and when I walk through the aisles of my nearest store, it feels like I’m walking through a minefield, trying desperately to avoid being blown to pieces by a hidden device. Except in this case, the mines are made of high fructose corn syrup.
The corn industry’s ridiculously deceptive TV ads will tell you that HFCS is â€œOK in moderationâ€ and that it’s no worse than sugar. The problem is, how do you moderate your intake of HFCS when you donâ€™t realize youâ€™re consuming it? And how exactly do they define “moderation?” Is there a specific amount I should aim to stay within every day? Clearly, many people have trouble moderating their intake of sweets, or this conversation wouldn’t be necessary. The print ads like the one shown below are worse, implying that only doctors can have a say on health care, as if the opinions of regular people don’t matter.
Image from SweetSurprise.com
High fructose corn syrup extends the shelf life of processed foods, and is also cheaper than sugar, so it has become a frequent ingredient in soda, fruit drinks and other processed foods, including in many foods where you wouldnâ€™t expect to find it.
To make matters worse, a recent study revealed the presence of mercury in 17 of 55 tested brand-name food and beverage products that contain HFCS. These products included barbecue sauces, condiments, dairy products, beverages, nutrition bars, snacks, including Smuckerâ€™s Strawberry Jelly, Huntâ€™s Tomato Ketchup and Hersheyâ€™s Chocolate Syrup. Pardon my sarcasm, but isn’t this lovely to know?
I am admittedly a lazy cook who once was more likely to shop in the freezer aisle than the produce section if given the chance. I’m working on that, but I still have my weak moments. The result is that I would wind up buying a lot of foods that contained added HFCS without realizing it. This isnâ€™t a healthy trend for me or my family, no matter what the commercials would have us believe. But even for parents who enjoy cooking from scratch and try to avoid processed foods, this ingredient has become so pervasive that it is showing up everywhere. Think salad dressings, yogurt and even pickles and toothpaste. Really? My toothpaste, which is supposed to clean my teeth, needs a sugar substitute?
Itâ€™s sad to say, but to this point, my family has been losing the battle against HFCS. My insatiable sweet tooth certainly doesnâ€™t help matters. Of course, I now wonder if the reason I love sweet foods and drinks is because Iâ€™ve become so accustomed to consuming added sweeteners.Â HFCS alone isnâ€™t to blame for that, but it doesnâ€™t help that this cheap ingredient is being added to what seems like everything. Canâ€™t I just get a pickle, with no additives?
In any case, thereâ€™s no point in laying blame. This is just another reason why eating organic foods has become so vital in my household. If we eliminate processed food altogether, it stands to reason that weâ€™ll also be able to eliminate, or at least drastically reduce, our consumption of HFCS. Now I just need to work on getting motivated to cook rather than just sticking a frozen pizza in the oven. Thankfully, my husband has been putting his amazing culinary skills on display and cooking more often than not, so I really have no excuse.