I am well aware that it is old news to rant about and bash high fructose corn syrup. Wow, Jeremy, that was like, sooooo 2008. Well, it might be a couple years too late but I’m getting my two cents in, and I’m directing the majority of my venom at Gerber. Last week I bought a package of Gerber Arrowroot Cookies for my one year old. After an excruciating mealtime of smashing bananas into her hair and throwing cantaloupe over the side of her high chair, I felt like it was ok to let her have a cookie. I know Cookie Monster retired so I feel it is now up to me to instill a lifelong love of cookies, and what better way to start than with a very basic cookie that actually tastes pretty good.
Well shame on me for not reading the ingredients at the store, but guess what cheap-ass Gerber uses to sweeten their Arrowroot Cookies? Not only is sugar listed as an ingredient, but so is our old friend, high fructose corn syrup (heretofore referred to as HFCS). My question would be why if I didn’t already know the answer. It is cheaper than sugar, and Gerber wouldn’t want the destruction of the American child’s palate to interfere with their profit margin.
For those of you who need more info on HFCS, I will refer you to wikipedia and not bore you with the gruesome details. Instead I will provide a visual aide:
High Fructose Corn Syrup
You might remember that big Agri-business ran a series of ads to despell the myth that HFCS was bad for you. I remember seeing one, at first I thought it was an ad for herpes medicine. An attractive young couple was riding bikes and then settling in for lunch in a beautiful meadow. The guy (typical clueless male dolt) suggested that the beverage his gf (or whatever) offered was bad because it had HFCS in it. Startled, she set his sorry ass straight. Case closed, right? I mean, if a commercial says it, it has to be true. Wrong. Any product that has to buy ad time to tell you that it isn’t bad for you, is bad for you. It reminded me of former Senator Larry Craig, the Minneapolis airport bathroom guy. If you have to stand up in front of a huge crowd to tell them that you aren’t gay, clearly you are gay. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
My overarching quarrel with HFCS is that products that use it either a) do not need it or b) do not taste as good as those that use sugar. Take bread for example. Go to your local megamart and check out the ingredients in the bread aisle. Most pre-sliced popular bread choices use HFCS. Why? I’m not a baker or a breadoligist but I do know that you can sweeten bread with honey or molasses and you will gain tons of flavor. It makes sense. Unless your accountants are choosing ingredients for you. As for argument b, I submit to you the “throwback” Pepsi that we see in stores. Why do this? Why did Coca-Cola taste better when I was a kid? They used real sugar…
Now, you will read studies from the braniacs at whatever institution decides to study obesity that particular week, and they will blame HFCS as well as sugar for a lot of our nation’s obesity problems. I’m not going to argue, but for the record, in almost all cases weight gain/loss is based on caloric intake versus output. To me, HFCS is just another fake sugar substitute, but a poor one in that it provides no caloric benefit. It’s worse than Splenda or Nutra-Sweet or (blech) Sweet-n-low because you are piling on empty calories every time you drink a beverage with HFCS. And I don’t give a shit if anyone says I’m inaccurate or don’t understand the science. I’m going Colbert on this one, my gut tells me I’m right and I’m sticking with it.
Now, I’m well aware from the e-mail I get that we have a considerable fan base among farmers that grow corn. All I can say to you is ethanol! My beef isn’t with you, anyway. Which brings me back to Gerber. I’m not expecting a change, and though you are a Michigan based company it is with a heavy heart that I say, in the eloquent words of former Vice-President Dick Cheney, go fuck yourself. I’ve already switched to Sprout when I buy baby food, and have no intention of buying your crappy products anymore.
There is a difference between sweetening soda with HFCS, and sweetening toddler arrowroot cookies with HFCS. If corporate America wants to roll this way, then it is my duty to call you out whenever I feel moved to do so. According to the Supreme Court, a corporation has the same rights as individuals, which I call bullshit for one obvious reason: I can’t punch a corporation in the face. But I can unleash the might of WordPress on you, you bastards. Stings a bit, doesn’t it Gerber?
To summarize, I’m going to be more diligent checking ingredients in the future. I’m going to start shopping at Whole Foods more often even though it is inconvenient and expensive. I’m going to continue to lob insults and profanities at companies that insist on putting HFCS in every damn product that used to contain sugar as the sole sweetener. And (gasp) I might even bake my own cookies for my daughter. At least they will look better in her hair than mashed bananas.