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The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
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ysabetwordsmith
Thoughts on High-Fructose Corn Syrup
The government is finally starting to notice that high-fructose corn syrup does bad things to those who eat it.  Here's a blog post that discusses a recent study on that, along with an old photograph showing a random crowd of people from the pre-HFCS days.

I'm frustrated that it's almost impossible to avoid the vile stuff.  There are whole category products that have no HFCS-free options anymore.  I would LOVE to take a grocery store and turn loose a photo crew on it.  First go through and remove all the HFCS products from the shelves.  I estimate that would empty over 90% of the shelves.  Film it.  Put everything back.  Repeat the process with MSG, any other artificial ingredients you want to avoid, and leading allergens such as nuts and gluten.  Shoot each version.  Now pull all the products that contain ANY ONE of those, leaving only the healthy edibles.

I bet damn near every shelf except the produce aisle and the little "health food" second would be almost barren.

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Comments
ladyqkat From: ladyqkat Date: March 25th, 2010 04:24 am (UTC) (Link)
One thing that jumped out at me on a lot of the preservatives and chemical additives is that there were never any long term studies done on them. The entire current population are the test subjects of such pollutants and the control group consists of people born before 1930 or thereabouts.

They have already linked Bovine Growth Hormone to young girls developing secondary sex characteristics earlier and towards many young men showing female sex characteristics. Are scientists blind or can they not get funding for such studies?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 25th, 2010 04:31 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

>> One thing that jumped out at me on a lot of the preservatives and chemical additives is that there were never any long term studies done on them. The entire current population are the test subjects of such pollutants and the control group consists of people born before 1930 or thereabouts.<<

I find this, in general, horrifying and offensive. I don't think it's an accident that overall health is plummeting.

>> They have already linked Bovine Growth Hormone to young girls developing secondary sex characteristics earlier and towards many young men showing female sex characteristics. <<

Plus rising rates of sterility in both, along with other sex/gender anomalies.

Also, girl's plumbing turns on at typical age 12, she has 6 years to wait for legal adulthood, which is half her then-life. A long time, but not unimaginable. Girl's plumbing turns on at increasingly common age 8, she has 10 years to wait for legal adulthood, longer than her then-life; probably quite destructive to her personality.

>> Are scientists blind or can they not get funding for such studies? <<

There is little or no money for such studies. They also tend to be career killers. So, almost no incentive to study them, and it is very risky to do so. Apparently human experimentation is more acceptable than threatening the holy profit.
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From: netdancer Date: March 25th, 2010 04:51 am (UTC) (Link)
We've had to start baking all our own bread. Household member allergic to corn.
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From: dsgood Date: March 25th, 2010 05:36 am (UTC) (Link)
I've been seeing more and more bread labeled as having NO high fructose corn syrup, which is a start.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 25th, 2010 05:39 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

I'm starting to see a few things with that label, which is indeed encouraging.
red_trillium From: red_trillium Date: March 25th, 2010 08:02 am (UTC) (Link)
That was a very interesting post and is very thought-provoking. I'm not sure about the pict as supporting proof though, while I agree that overall people weren't the same size we are on average it could be a variety of reasons and there isn't any information as to why the photo was taken. Was it a group of random people? It looks vaguely posed and like a beach shot so it would be more likely to have more healthy-looking people.

But yes, I think the effects of HFCS haven't been studied enough and the fact that we've been seeing it in more and more of our food is alarming.

For your friend that is allergic, I've got a good recipe for granola/muesli on my journal that calls for honey & butter, let me know if you want me to find it & link it.
msstacy13 From: msstacy13 Date: March 25th, 2010 12:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
The pic is purely for impact.
That's not to downplay the evidence.
valarltd From: valarltd Date: March 25th, 2010 09:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Add soy to your list of common allergens. I knew several kids allergic to dairy and soy. Gluten allergy was something I never encountered until a few years ago.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 25th, 2010 06:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

I know there are people who can't handle soy. Me, I just despise the flavor of it. No matter what you do to soy, it tastes like vile soybeans to me. If it's more than a very minor ingredient, that tends to turn me off a dish.
ideealisme From: ideealisme Date: March 25th, 2010 10:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Hmmmm. I don't know much about high-fructose corn syrup (though I do wonder if a photo of non-fat people really says much statistically about anything) but I do remember travelling over the US in 1995 and staying there for a month. I gained a stone in weight, in one month! The food seems heavier and portions bigger, but maybe it's about what I'm used to. I imagine the proportion of foods with this ingredient doesn't differ wildly on either side of the Atlantic.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 25th, 2010 05:48 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

Proportions are definitely increasing; that's part of the problem. (It has complex roots.) HFCS is heavily used in America, less so in some places, and banned in some.
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: March 25th, 2010 10:58 am (UTC) (Link)
I agree with you in general, but I'm not entirely sure it's fair to include natural-ingredient allergens such as nuts and dairy) in the list of additives, or to say that having those ingredients makes a food "not healthy".

I do agree that foods containing common allergens should be marked in some way that's easy for the consumer to notice. (Although I think it's kind of silly to pick up a can of roasted peanuts and see something like, "Ingredients: Peanuts, vegetable oil, salt. WARNING: CONTAINS PEANUTS".)
msstacy13 From: msstacy13 Date: March 25th, 2010 12:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
What annoys me is a word like "spices" in the ingredients.
Which spices?
The one I'm allergic to?
They might as well say "other stuff"
From: wetdyke Date: March 25th, 2010 12:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think you are doomed to disappointment on the MSG part. It occurs naturally in soooo many things.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 25th, 2010 05:22 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

But it doesn't have to be added to foods where it doesn't occur.

I'm doomed to disappointment about much of the world today. That doesn't mean I have to make it easy on the troublemakers by being quiet about the resulting mess. I may not be able to stop them, but I can at least make them work harder for it.
msstacy13 From: msstacy13 Date: March 25th, 2010 01:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Feel free to correct me if you can find historical evidence,
but I believe it was an association of Nebraska Corn Growers
who first persuaded Coke and Pepsi to begin using
what was then described as "Corn Sweetener"
From there, the stuff really caught on.

Although the obesity thing is kinda like the bees--
there are dozens of factors contributing to it.
That doesn't mean that any known and positively identified detriment
should be discounted. Just understand that eliminating HFCS
won't solve THE problem--it's only one important part of a bigger solution.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 25th, 2010 06:04 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

>>Although the obesity thing is kinda like the bees--there are dozens of factors contributing to it.<<

This is true. Another big aspect is the increasingly sedentary lifestyle; it's hard now to find a job that involves healthy activity. Most either destroy your body by parking it all day, or destroy your body by working it until parts come loose.

We can make progress by identifying major causes of weight gain and seeking to reduce or eliminate those; and by creating opportunities for healthy activity. Make it easy to do the right things and hard to do the wrong things.

Unfortunately, few people want to do that.
msstacy13 From: msstacy13 Date: March 25th, 2010 01:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
and if you haven't already, you should prolly read this rebuttal--
http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2010/03/does-high-fructose-corn-syrup-make-you-fatter.ars
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 25th, 2010 05:46 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

People are often careless with precise parallels in science, which is frustrating. I would like to see this study replicated elsewhere, and would like to see some better-designed studies -- and longer ones. What happens if you raise rats on a diet of pellets including HFCS until they die? What happens if you raise rats on that diet, breed them, and analyze the young?
dakiwiboid From: dakiwiboid Date: March 25th, 2010 01:57 pm (UTC) (Link)

I started cutting HFCS out of our diet about three years ago

It wasn't easy, because, as you say, the crap is EVERYWHERE.

However, it does mean that we stopped keeping a lot of little snackies and junk food in the house. We do have some of the healthier crackers, which is good, because I have to have a smallish snack between meals due to my irritable bowel syndrome.

However, moosl noticed that when we cut out the HFCS, he stopped gaining weight. When his horrible supervisor quit, he was able to start losing it readily for the first time in many years. He says that he thinks that not having the HFCS in his diet and eating better food at home has made a huge difference.

Shopping for groceries takes a VERY LONG time now, however. Can't buy pickled beets--they all have The Evil, as we call it. It's hard to buy bread, as you say, or hamburger or hot dog buns or ketchup. We buy more expensive brands and less of them, and use them carefully and sparingly. Trader Joe's is a great help to us in finding such products, although even they slip sometimes. Their eggnog has The Evil in it, alas. The only innocent eggnog brand I found this year was Horizon.

My sensitivities have me avoiding peanuts and almonds, and for now, milk products, so shopping is even worse at the moment. Gack. I can handle some milk products if I take my lactase, and I'm less worried about it than the dratted peanuts, which give me migraines.

Edited at 2010-03-25 02:04 pm (UTC)
dulcinbradbury From: dulcinbradbury Date: March 25th, 2010 02:37 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Pickled Beets

Pickled Beets are actually very easy to make. I sort-of follow Alton Brown's recipe here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/pickled-beets-recipe/index.html

Instead of buying tarragon wine vinegar, I just add tarragon in when I'm boiling the vinegar.
endlessrarities From: endlessrarities Date: March 25th, 2010 07:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have a similar problem with my efforts towards trying to avoid palm oil, though that's for moral rather than health reasons. All sorts of things use either palm oil or vegetable oil which contains palm oil.

This is difficult, because I really don't like to have the blood of innocent orang-utans on my hands...
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 25th, 2010 09:59 pm (UTC) (Link)

Well...

Ethical food concerns are a whole nother ball of wax, alas. I suspect the proportions would be similar -- if you want to eat plants and animals that were well treated and not drowned in chemicals, cared for by humanely treated workers, then that probably cuts your food choices down to 10% of what's in the store, if that.
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