The high-fructose corn syrup lobby is working hard to counter all those pesky notions floating out there suggesting that high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is generally not a great thing, that its production is killing the American farmer, and the soil that farmer farms, and that it is the cornerstone of a system of synthetic nutrition that has led to epidemics in obesity, diabetes, and more.
In the commercials (click here to view), the hapless corn-syrup detractors have no idea what they're talking about, only stammering, "well, you know what they say about it...." The "educated" pro-syrup person in the ad, however, is always smug, armed, and ready to gently chide and convince the person to take a bite - two! - of a Popsicle, or help themselves to a mug of fruit punch at the kids' party.
One fact that's mentioned in every ad is that high-fructose corn syrup is "fine in moderation." I don't disagree with that, actually, in theory. But in reality there's nothing about HFCS that actually reflects the concept of "moderation." I read in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle that we consume 54.8 gallons of soda per person per year in America. CNN has reported that soda makes up 10% of American food calories. The consumption of HFCS doubled from 1980 to 2004, to 78 pounds per capita in '04.
Where's the moderation there?
And that doesn't even touch the production side, where farmland is crowded with genetically-modified corn plants that are made for processing, not nourishing. Fine in moderation. In theory, maybe.
What's your view of HFCS? Do you avoid it religiously, or try to steer clear of it when you can? For my part, I cut out soda from my diet a few years ago and don't regret that at all. Like everything else in my eating life, I am trying to be faithful to a true concept of "everything in moderation." That's why the corn syrup lobby ads bother me so much.
In the spirit of moderation, meanwhile, David Lebovitz has a fantastic post that explains when to use corn syrup in baking (it's an "invert sugar," meaning it keeps crystals from forming, a great thing when you're making shiny, smooth things like caramels or chocolate sauces). The Karo syrup that's used in baking, though, is not "high-fructose," it's important to note. And often there are more natural substitutes (like honey in caramels) that can stand in for corn syrup. Often, but not always. Moderation.