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There’s a high fructose corn syrup battle raging, with one side claiming the sweetener is worse than ‘natural’ cane or beet sugar and the other (namely the corn industry, but also many medical experts) saying it is fine in moderation and no worse than sugar.

I’ve been mulling over this controversy — how can there be studies and experts and common sense arguments supporting both sides? This isn’t an ideological argument, it’s one that is (hopefully) rooted in science. But then again, what do we really know about food anyway? Butter/margarine debacle, anyone?

Now we have the Corn Refiners Association proposing the new name “corn sugar.” It’s an attempt to reshape a debate that is filled with he said-she saids and loaded arguments attached to the very phrase “high fructose corn syrup.”

My thoughts? I try to stay away from HFCS as much as possible.  BUT this is not because I think it’s a dangerous substance far inferior to white table sugar. Rather, I view its presence as a signal that whatever ingredient list I’m reading is for overly processed garbage.

I do think it’s unhealthy, just like I think all sugar is unhealthy (though believe me, I indulge). But by consequence of corn industry subsidies and cheap corn sweeteners, this product has become ubiquitous in soda, prepackaged snacks, fast food, and more harbingers of obesity and heart disease.

HFCS, corn sugar, whatever you call it — it’s my alarm that the rest of the ingredient list probably doesn’t look so hot, either.


Books I’m Reading

Wuthering Heights

Mrs. Kimble

Little Bee


My Life with the Saints

Brave Companions

The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Help

Lunch in Paris


Reading Lolita in Tehran

Pride and Prejudice

Rethinking Thin

The Omnivore's Dilemma

The Friday Night Knitting Club

Best Food Writing 2009

Let the Great World Spin

The Middle Place

Northern Borders

In Defense of Food