Weekly Rant: High Fructose Corn Syrup
Growing up as a kid in Minnesota I got to experience many things. One of those was a pancake feast. We (My step-dad, mom, brother, step-brother, and I) drove out to a farm a friend owned (my step-dad’s friend, not mine). Driving out to the farm we’d pass a large number of Maple trees each with two ‘taps’ and buckets hanging from each tap. Usually one on each side of the tree. The trees lined the road to the farm which made for easier collection.
Getting to the house you could smell the cooking of the syrup. They would have a massive cooker set up to boil down the sap and make it into syrup. I’m not 100% sure of the process, but I do remember everything being set up outside and them stirring the vat with a large, metal oar several times during our eatings of pancakes.
Outside there were rows of picnic tables, bottles of pop (some call it soda), and a row of bar-b-qs all cooking hams and sausages. Even those couldn’t undermine the small of cooking maple syrup, but they did try.
Once the meats had been cooked and a BBQ freed up, a large griddle came out and was placed over the coals and the pancake cooking began. More pancakes than you can shake a stick at. And pans of syrup were heated. Tubs of freshly churned butter were placed out. This was, after all, a dairy farm that doubled with the maple syrup production. As plates of hot pancakes were doled out, hot syrup was poured into gravy boats and plates of meat put on the tables. Everything 100% natural, no additives, no preservatives. Just like nature intended.
This morning I was going to have some toaster waffles. I looked at the syrup. #1 ingredient. High Fructose Corn Syrup. I had a bowl of cereal.
I stopped drinking soda, but I guarantee that back when I was a kid the #2 ingredient was sugar, not High Fructose Corn Syrup. I think this is why I still like cereal in that they use sugar instead of that other stuff.
I remember when I stopped drinking soda. I used to keep drinking it because it was sweet, but it had a different mouth feel. Something more slippery and not nearly as thirst quenching. What was the point of drinking a soda if all I was going to do was get MORE thirsty? I want to drink something to help with that thirst. If it’s sweet, all the better. I stopped drinking soda. I would order tea at a restaurant, but only if it was unsweetened.
One day I discovered “Mountain Dew ‘throwback’”. I thought, Hey, I used to drink Mountain Dew all the time, let me see what’s different.
OMFG! The taste and feel was amazing! I’d forgotten what old Mountain Dew tasted like. I’d gotten used to that weird feel and average taste. This blew my mind. I looked at the ingredients. The #2 ingredient? SUGAR! That’s right! None of that high fructose bleh! This was the real thing.
I used to love things like cream soda and root beer. I can remember going to the A&W and getting a big frosty mug filled with heaven. If you drink one now, it’s terrible. The taste is gone. It’s because there’s no more sugar in it. When I was in Palm Desert recently I had some home brewed cream soda, root beer, and sarsaparilla. It wasn’t made with anything artificial. It was the real thing. Sugar enhances the flavor much like adding a little salt to your food will enhance the flavor of some foods you eat. It activates different parts of your tongue. It’s feels right because it dissolves completely in water. Maple syrup feels right because it’s natural. That’s the way it’s supposed to feel and taste.
High Fructose Corn Syrup is artificially sweet. It’s thick. It doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t taste right. Why? It’s unnatural. It’s made in a laboratory. It’s converting molecules to make it sweet. But it’s not sugar. It’s an abomination. Sure there are health concerns, but I’m not sure they’re founded. Beyond those, it’s just not right. It’s made some of the things I’ve loved as a kid, maple syrup, soda pop, and turned them into things I no longer care for. Sure they may be cheaper, but this is an instance where cheaper hasn’t made the produce better.
I’ll spend the extra money to find things made the way they were intended to be made. Sure, science has given us some great things. This has given us a cheaper alternative to real sugar, but there really is no substitute. Sure it helps the corn industry, it makes some products we like less expensive to make, but the sacrifice in quality is something that needs to be taken into consideration. For that reason I’ve stopped consuming HFCS. Not because I think it’ll affect my health, but because I think it’ll affect my taste.
The saddest part is that most people who read this probably have never know soda without HFCS. Do you remember what Soda used to taste like? Have you compared a ‘throwback’ to the current model? Sweet is fine, but for my money it’s got to actually taste good.
How do you feel about sugar versus HFCS? Have you tried and compared the difference? If you’re in the United States this is more of an issue than the rest of the world, but I’d leave to hear others weigh in as well.
Until Next Time!