J500 Media and the Environment


Can the Corn by jenh
March 4, 2008, 2:19 pm
Filed under: Food + Health | Tags: , , ,

A Biofuel corn field

I have this weird, unshakable addiction to canned tomatoes. I can eat a can a day as a tasty accompaniment to a salad or soup, but I have been known to open a can of stewed tomatoes and devour them a la carte. Canned tomatoes are my flavor and vitamin C bridge between the end of the fresh tomato season in August and the start of the new season in late June.

But corn is putting an end to my canned tomato addiction.

I found corn in the form of high fructose corn syrup in my can of tomatoes last night. Why would a can of tomatoes need that stuff? Then I read a few more labels to discover it’s in my Glaceau vitamin water, it’s in my breakfast cereal, it’s in the salad dressing I put on the salad, and it’s in the salsa I had.

A cursory Internet search will tell you that corn is used in the production or processing of 2,500 grocery store items out of 10,000. It’s used in manufacturing for things like adhesives, aluminum, antibiotics, asbestos insulation, aspirin, automobiles – and hey, we’re not even out of the A list!

One of the ways it gets into the food supply is via high fructose corn syrup. It’s strange stuff. The New York Times described the process this way: “It starts with corn kernels and takes place in a series of stainless steel vats and tubes in which a dozen different mechanical processes and chemical reactions occur — including several rounds of high-velocity spinning and the introduction of three different enzymes to incite molecular rearrangements.”

Sweeeeet, right?

A few years ago, there was an uproar over high fructose corn syrup. Rates of increasing obesity were commensurate with the increasing presence of HFCS in the food supply. The corn lobby didn’t want manufacturers to lessen demand, which relied on consumer demand, so they put up this slick, innocuous looking site to tell you “all the facts” about HFCS. You have to hunt around for the contact us page before you find out who is sponsoring the site.

Since then, the original studies about the possible relationship between HFCS and obesity have been called into question but I’m avoiding it nevertheless. No more canned tomatoes except for the ones I home can myself.

Reading labels isn’t new to me, especially for calories and fat. But the idea of thinking about them, really reading them to consider what I’m ingesting, is. The fewer the ingredients, the closer you are to eating the real food instead of a chemical cocktail meant to seem like food. I’m going to try to eat the way author Michael Pollan (check out his thoughts on corn) says to: if something has health claims on the label, question whether it’s going to be good for you. Ever see a health claim on an apple?

— Jen Humphrey

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3 Comments so far
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[…] jenh wrote this today. I think it is worth reading. Here is a little snippet:It’s used in manufacturing for things like adhesives, aluminum, antibiotics, asbestos insulation, aspirin, automobiles – and hey, we’re not even out of the A list! One of the ways it gets into the food supply is via high fructose corn … […]

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Corn is everywhere! I remember when I tried to cut sugar out of my diet (that didn’t last) I could not eat pasta sauce or chips or many of the foodstuffs I actually thought tasted salty not sweet because of the corn syrup. Thank you for highlighting a possible connection between the sweet stuff and our weight. The scientific info is overwhelming (bran is good, salt is bad, eat good cholesterol not bad cholesterol, dairy makes you phlegmy, dairy helps you lose weight, blah blah blah) but to consider that every food decision impacts us inside and out is important.
Simran

Comment by j500

Yeah, there really haven’t been studies that have proven HFCS is to blame for the obesity epidemic. With all of the health concerns out there and so many “Bad” foods and “Good” foods it gets confusing. I just try to have balance in my diet and remember it’s okay to indulge occasionally.

Comment by Rebecca




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