When my daughter held her first lemonade stand this past week, I was so caught up in the “milestone” aspect of it all that I totally missed out on an opportunity to add an environmental lesson to the mathematical/economical one.
If you can’t convince them, confuse them.
— Harry Truman
The current media debate about the benefits (or lack of harm) of high fructose corn syrup in our diet misses the obvious. The average American has increased his consumption of HFCS (mostly from sugar-sweetened drinks and processed food) from zero to more than 60 pounds per year. Obesity rates have more than tripled and diabetes incidence has increased more than seven-fold. HFCS is not perhaps the only cause, but one that cannot be ignored.
Doubt and confusion are the currency of deception, and they sow the seeds of complacency. Recently, these have been used skillfully through massive print and television advertising campaigns by the Corn Refiners Association’s attempt to dispel the “myth” that HFCS is harmful and assert through the opinion of “medical and nutrition experts” that it is no different than cane sugar. It is a “natural” product that can be a healthy part of our diets when used in moderation.
Except for one problem: Even when used in moderation, it is a major cause of heart disease, obesity, cancer, dementia, liver failure, tooth decay and more.
For as long as I can remember, corn has been one of my favorite summertime foods. As a kid, I loved to sit on the picnic table in our backyard shucking ear after ear of the patchwork white-and-pale-yellow Olathe sweet corn my mom would bring home by the bushel. Later I’d slather it with butter and salt and sink my teeth in the way my dog attacks a meaty beef bone.
When I got my braces in fifth grade, I learned to eat corn on the cob one row at a time to minimize the hardware-cleaning process (corn was officially forbidden by the orthodontist, but I really think I outsmarted him on this one; don’t ask about my Milk Dud incident). I always thought eating something as nutritious as a fresh vegetable — especially since I loved it so much — was worth it.