Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Corn Syrup Conundrum

When I read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I resolved to change our family's eating habits. I tried to buy fruits and vegetables in season from the local farmer's market and what I found out was, my family was eating a lot fewer fruits and vegetables.
So now I buy the boxes of clementines that have been shipped across the Atlantic from South Africa, increasing my carbon foot print with each gallon of fuel the container ship uses to bring my little oranges to the United States.
One thing I have tried to stick with is eliminating high fructose corn syrup from our diet. HFCS is genetically modified to create an easily-transported sweetener that is added to nearly everything. What's wrong with it? According to an article by Linda Joyce Forristal, CCP, MTA, from "In the Kitchen with Mother Linda The Murky World of High-Fructose Corn Syrup," male rats that were fed high fructose diets didn't reach adulthood and had health conditions like high cholesterol, anemia and delayed testicular development. The females didn't have it as bad but couldn't bear live young.
"...all fructose must be metabolized in the liver," Forristal quotes USDA researcher Dr. Meira Fields. "The livers of the rats on the high fructose diet looked like the livers of alcoholics, plugged with fat and cirrhotic."
Okay, I know my kids aren't rats, but I'm looking forward to grandchildren some day, so I want to avoid that lack of testicular development and the ability to bear children. It's just like that book The Children of Men by P.D. James.
But buying food without high fructose corn syrup seems nearly impossible. They hide that in everything. My first surprise was bread. Who'd have thought bread needed high fructose corn syrup? The only loaves I can find at my regular shopping stops are Archer Farms at Target and organic bread at Kroger.
I took my kids off their once weekly soda allotment and instead buy Jones cream soda made from cane sugar. Candy doesn't have a lot of high fructose corn syrup, but just about any baked good is going to have it. Forget bagels. They are off our list forever. English muffins. Little Debbies. All gone.
Spencer asked for fries and steak for his birthday dinner so I was searching for ketchup. Guess what was in it? I found a bottle of organic ketchup and went with that. But then Grace had requested apple sauce and I was out of luck at the local Kroger.
I was kvetching to my friends that I couldn't find any applesauce without high fructose corn syrup.
My friend Laura looked at me in astonishment, "Why would you buy apple sauce? Why wouldn't you just make it from scratch? Cook up some apples and add some sugar."
Keep in mind, this is a friend who admittedly hasn't cooked dinner for her family in weeks.
"Well, geez, Laura. Why would you go buy bananas when you could plant a tree and have perfectly good bananas within years?" I replied. A little stung.
So, this morning I made an apple coffee cake and I'll go to Wild Oats later today to look for organic apple sauce, but I am not going to feel guilty that I don't make it more than once a season from scratch.

Find the Forristal article at http://www.westonaprice.org/motherlinda/cornsyrup.html
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts,
the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Fall 2001


Anonymous said...

I too have chosen to shun HFCS, and so now spend an inordinate amount of time reading labels. There is ALOT of scarey stuff in our food! (What, exactly, is disodium EDTA or BHT?) HFCS is in most sports drinks for goodness sakes! And cereal!

Aunt Millie's breads (Meijer)now have a blue label on the bag that reads, "NO high fructose corn syrup." I'm still looking for some decent hamburger buns.

Anonymous said...

Just to let you in on a little secret, coming from a person who only cooks because my husband and I have to eat, "apple sauce is one of the easiest things on earth to make"; so I'm thinking your friend was only surprised not guiltng you. Can you save me a piece of that coffee cake.

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