For awhile now I have been troubled by those ads from the Corn Refiners Association regarding High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). You know the ads - the ones that make you feel like an idiot if you question the inclusion of HFCS in the foods you and your family eats.
Without knowing anything about the HFCS debate, my initial reaction was: if this stuff is so safe, why do we need these ads? Shouldn't the research speak for itself? And why do they qualify their position by saying that it is "safe in moderation"?
Even if HFCS is safe in moderation, that's the problem in itself: how do you moderate something that is in nearly everything that we eat? I expected to find HFCS in sodas and sweets, but I wouldn't have guessed that it would be lurking in ketchup, Stove-Top Stuffing, bread and cottage cheese. Read the labels - it is everywhere.
A friend shared this great, succinct article on HFCS, and it is worth a read. The link between HFCS and obesity is particularly disturbing. For those who won't click the link, if all you read is the following excerpt, you should be convinced: The syrup interferes with the body's metabolism so that a person can't stop eating. It's truly hard to control cravings because high fructose corn syrup slows down the secretion of leptin in the body. Leptin is a crucial hormone in the body that tells you that you're full and to stop eating.
After seeing that article, I'm inclined to stay away from HFCS altogether. But how do you avoid something that's everywhere?
1. Read the labels. Certified organic foods are great alternatives. Look for the organic label (but be wary of the word "natural." The FDA has strict guidelines for what can be called organic, but that's not true for foods labeled "natural").
2. Grow your own. Instead of buying a bottle of ketchup, try making your own. Making and canning various foods and condiments can be a lot of fun, and if you have young children you can turn the whole experience into an educational opportunity. The best part about making your own food is that you can customize it to your tastes - have a little fun with some herbs and spices and see what you can create.
3. Get creative in looking for alternatives. If you can't live without your soda, try shopping at an ethnic grocery store: many sodas from Mexico still use sugar instead of HFCS. Similarly, groceries that carry separate items for Passover may sell sodas without corn syrup. Coca-cola kosher for Passover has a yellow cap marked with an OU-P.