"HFCS is Good..!"

First, a side note: I recently read a speech (in my media class; not that I'm constantly reading speeches) given by Bill Moyers in 2004 at the Society of Professional Journalists Conference. When he and his colleagues were looking into the subject of pesticides and food for a Frontline documentary, his producer Marty Koughan learned that somehow a script for the show had gotten out and that "industry was attempting behind closed doors to dilute the findings of a National Academy of Sciences study on the effects of pesticide residues on children." The documentary was the subject of a whisper campaign and all-out propaganda war to derail and discredit his doc before it ever aired. The moral of this story: We can't rely on large corporations to look out for our best interests...

When my son was in kindergarten, I started noticing that there was something different about the kids. Their body shapes had changed since I was a kid. More children were pudgy or overweight. With each passing grade, I noticed this more and more. We've all heard about the obesity epidemic in this country and the rise in Type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes in children. They call it "adult" for a reason. It usually doesn't show up until later in life and is often tied to diet and exercise, while Type 1 (childhood) is genetic/hereditary.

So I started wondering why and chalked it up to a lack of outside play coupled with too many video games, too much homework, and television. A few months ago though, Husband was reading on the web and found some articles about high-fructose corn syrup and its possible link to childhood obesity/diabetes. This is really disturbing stuff, folks.

While what we read has not been proven scientifically (a lot of people are on the bandwagon, however), sometimes you just need to look around you and draw your own conclusions.

Currently, the Corn Refiners Association is running a series of print and TV ads in an attempt to boost the image of the sweetener. Here are a few headlines you can find on Google: "HFCS ad campaign accused of deception." "HFCS Ads - something that everyone can get mad at." "Beware of New Media Brainwashing About High Fructose Corn Syrup."

I say HFCS is not natural like sugar (who would have ever though I'd actually advocate sugar) and apparently is hard for the human body to process, especially kids. The material I read suggested that it's hard on their kidneys. HFCS is everywhere (practically). We started going through our cabinets and were surprised at its ubiquitousness. Why? HFCS is cheap. Its use is so prevalent in this country with our massive corn production, while other countries such as Canada and Australia don't use it in their products and use sugar instead.

We've tried cutting it out of our diets, but it's pretty hard. We did stop buying our Chips Ahoy and Oreos and replaced them with cookies from Canada. No more Wheat Thins, but Triscuits are okay. We've been reading labels ever since. Stores like Trader Joe's (regional) and Fresh & Easy (English conglomerate TESCO) don't carry as many items with HFCS.

Almost all of the juices (aimed at children specifically) have HFCS. All of the sodas do. Juicy Juice doesn't have it and there are probably others, but you have to really read the labels.

This is sad. Corn is inexpensive and mass produced, so the economic incentive to use HFCS instead of sugar in the products we consume is there. Plus there's apparently a huge corn lobby in this country. (That sounds funny, doesn't it?)

We as parents have to advocate and fight for our children (and this is one of those things where it feels like you're a voice crying out in the wilderness), but that's what we have to do.

Look for more information about high-fructose corn syrup and read for yourselves.

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