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March 25, 2004

Random stuff

High fructose corn syrup

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is evil. Now increased use of this crap shows a coincidental rise in obesity. While this is not a conclusive link, I believe that there is a connection. Personally speaking, I've cut out as many products that contain HFCS as I can from my diet -- I found that soft drinks were the #1 weight gain source for me.

I view HFCS has a perfect example why the US corporate mentality of increasing shareholder value is not good for the average consumer. If companies are constantly under pressure to increase profits & valuation (== shareholder value) then the companies need to increasingly look for ways to cut costs. Basic business math here.

However, there comes a point when the companies need to reduce the quality of the product in order to cut costs further. This is when companies will alter their producs and dump expensive sugar for cheap corn syrup. Products get reformulated to taste/smell/feel the same, but are cheaper to produce. The consumer doesn't really know this just happened. So then 2 years down the road, the costs need to be cut further and some other substitution happens, and this cycle continues.

In the end the products are not food anymore. They are chemicals that look/taste/smell like food, but digest radically different in the human body. To me it is clear that the more processed a food is, the more the human body needs to work to break it down. And this has its effects -- as we're now seeing as we look back on the last 30 years.

Ick. HFCS has not caught on in .eu -- at least not yet. When my .us friends come over to .eu and drink a coke there they say it tastes funny. Why? It has *real* sugar in it they way Coke in the .us used to.

Sigh. All in the name of shareholder value. And greed.

Posted by Mayhem at March 25, 2004 02:19 PM



BTW, HFCS used to make me feel physically nauseous, when I moved to the US last year. I'd drink a soda, and after 1/2 hour my stomach would act up.

I'm becoming acclimatised now, though... but I still avoid it. Fizzy water is now my soda-calorie-avoidance friend ;)

oh, a typo: 'the more processed a food is, the more the human body needs to work to break it down' -- actually I think it's the other way around -- the *less* it needs to work to break it down. That's the problem -- more of it is absorbed into the bloodstream and fat tissues, rather than skipping right through as unprocessed food does. (Hence fibre has a low calorie count -- because it's too hard for the human body to absorb calories from effectively.)

Posted by: Justin at March 25, 2004 03:03 PM

You may be right -- I'm not entirely certain what it does to the body. All I know is that the more refined/processed contents in food, the worse it is for your body. And that is really what matters in the end, no?

Posted by: Mayhem & Chaos at March 25, 2004 03:18 PM

And why is HFCS such a cost-effective way of making your food sweet? Because corn production is heavily subsidized in the United States. Take away the subsidies and HFCS doesn't look so attractive. (In Mexico, the situation is reversed - sugar cane is subsidized, and so everything has cane sugar in it).

Posted by: Moorlock at March 25, 2004 10:20 PM

Holy shit -- that explains why .eu hasn't made the switch either -- corn is considered pig feed in most of europe. Hmm. Very interesting.

Posted by: Mayhem & Chaos at March 25, 2004 10:47 PM