Thursday, January 14, 2010

High Fructose Corn Syrup Again

There seems to be a new series of ads for HFCS showing up on TV. I have railed about HFCS here before and am not going to do it again. I will merely say, once again, the body preferentially metabolizes fructose into fat and not energy and that can go a long way into understanding why we keep getting fatter and fatter in this country. Recently Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food) had some additional advice for us.

"Avoid foods you see advertised on television.," Michael Pollan warns.
Food marketers are ingenious at turning criticisms of their products -- and rules like these -- into new ways to sell slightly different versions of the same processed foods: They simply reformulate (to be low-fat, have no HFCS or transfats, or to contain fewer ingredients) and then boast about their implied healthfulness, whether the boast is meaningful or not. The best way to escape these marketing ploys is to tune out the marketing itself, by refusing to buy heavily promoted foods. Only the biggest food manufacturers can afford to advertise their products on television: More than two thirds of food advertising is spent promoting processed foods (and alcohol), so if you avoid products with big ad budgets, you'll automatically be avoiding edible foodlike substances. As for the 5 percent of food ads that promote whole foods (the prune or walnut growers or the beef ranchers), common sense will, one hopes, keep you from tarring them with the same brush -- these are the exceptions that prove the rule.
Now back to HFCS. If there is no other reason to avoid it then look at it as a 'marker' for bad food. You find it in over-processed 'cheap' foods and if a product has HFCS in it then it is probably a bad food or at least a food someone felt justified in 'cutting corners' with. Read labels and don't buy food with HFCS where sugar would normally be used. A good example is in jams and jellies. A few days ago I was looking for some preserves to use a glaze for a fruit tart. Since I wasn't going to use it directly on my toast if figured I would save a few cents and buy Smucker's to cook with. You would think a company that makes a big deal out of it's fresh from the farm and family traditions would be ok. NOT! The first ingredient was HFCS. I reached for the imported Bonne Maman instead. There we go... sugar, fruit and pectin. Yes it is more expensive but it is made just like I make my own preserves. It is also the best on the shelves in taste and what I use for direct toast application anyway.

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