High Fructose Corn Syrup: That Sweet, Sweet Bully
Quick! What is wrong with nuclear power??! How about DDT??! Or vinyl off-gassing??! Well, your inability to respond quickly, succinctly and in a rapid-fire sound bite has just destroyed your credibility and rendered you ignorant and labeled you as a lefty-liberal whiner. Sorry, you lose!
This is the intended message of a crop of pro-HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup) advertisements paid for by the Corn Refiners Association and created to shame the public into quiet subservience and passive consumption of the countless high-fructose corn syrup-laden products that dominate the supermarket. The two commercials are basically the same in theme and concept and consist of aggressively obnoxious people being admonished in their uninformed condemnation of high-fructose corn syrup, by individuals that seem a lot more appealing and conversant.
The first commercial is the more insidious of the bunch, consisting of two mothers at, what looks like, a child’s birthday party. Mom One spots Mom Two pouring out glasses of punch from what looks like a jug of anti-freeze and arrogantly chides “Wow, you don’t care what the kids eat, huh?” To which Mom Two politely asks her to substantiate her condemnation of high-fructose corn syrup, and of course, Mom One can’t deliver or recall exactly why high-fructose corn syrup is so bad for you, thus rendering her a red-faced dope. Mom Two negates Mom One’s befuddlement with the statement that high-fructose corn syrup is “made from corn, doesn’t have artificial ingredients and is fine in moderation.” (Note: antagonist Mom One is white, and protagonist Mom Two is black–is there a racial subtext here?
The second commercial is less relevant to parents, but is no less insidious, in that it equates love with feeding your partner high-fructose corn syrup, as in, “I feed you high-fructose corn syrup because I love you.” The basic structure is the same, this time with a couple on a picnic as the woman assumes the role of high-fructose corn syrup booster in opposition to her callow boyfriend. The end result being that he looks like an idiot, and she looks sweet and sensible. All of which is summed up by a congenial voice over reminding you to, “Get the facts, you are in for a sweet surprise.”
The cynical conceit of these ads are that if you can’t recall at a moment’s notice, all, or any, of the reasons something is negative or undesirable, then your concerns are wholly irrelevant, and you should just shut your mouth, and only open it to receive a generous serving of high-fructose corn syrup. The logic behind these ads assert that because high-fructose corn syrup is “natural,” as it is derived from corn, then it is wholesome and safe, much like natural radon gas, lead and tobacco.
Next page: The Truth About High-Fructose Corn Syrup, Five Things You Need to Know
So, as the commercial encourages you to “get the facts,” I felt obliged to offer up a crib sheet for those of us adverse to consuming high-fructose corn syrup, but unable to deliver a snappy rationale when pressed. Feel free to print this out and carry it around in your wallet, purse, or along with your medic-alert bracelet.
Facts: High-fructose corn syrup is a sweetener produced by processing cornstarch to yield glucose, and then processing the glucose to produce a high percentage of fructose. It is primarily used as a preservative and sweetener in a multitude of food products. You should avoid it because of the following:
1. High-fructose corn syrup has been linked directly to obesity, diabetes and metabolic dysfunction.
2. High-fructose corn syrup elevates triglycerides levels, which can lead to heart disease.
3. High-fructose corn syrup is simply empty calories with no nutritional value whatsoever.
4. The environmental footprint of high-fructose corn syrup is exceedingly large.
5. High-fructose corn syrup is the hellion child of the corn lobby’s satanic forces.
OK, so the fifth one might not be totally accurate, but it does drive the point home. And for extra credit you could mention that consuming high-fructose corn syrup in moderation is becoming near impossible, seeing as nearly everything from sliced bread to salad dressing now proudly contains the ubiquitous ingredient.
I encourage everyone to get the facts, stay vigilant, and don’t hang out with people (or lobbyists) willing to bully you into eating highly processed sweeteners.