Food Isn’t Love Anymore

September 11, 2007

Gum DropWe spent the weekend with a friend and her children a few months ago and I have been bothered by the culinary selection provided for the kids ever since.

On Sunday morning, my friend’s husband made the adults delicious breakfast burritos with fresh vegetables and tofu sausage, while the kids popped open a can of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls with goopy white frosting. The children (mine included) quickly licked the icing from the buns, and loaded up plastic mugs with Ovaltine, to which they added a small amount of cow milk (on it’s own, bad enough). After ‘breakfast’ the gummy bears came out and were grazed upon until we left for the lake an hour later. I was in such shock, I said nothing, but watched as my 2 year old grew giddy with the notion of unregulated sugar consumption, and not just sugar, but fructose, and worse yet, high fructose corn syrup.

Please understand, my friend LOVES her kids and is mostly vegetarian herself (a self-proclaimed opportunivore if you will). She takes great care of them and provides a beautiful home, a loving partnership with her husband, and a stable, active family life in which they can thrive.

So why are we giving our kids substances that are killing them? How do we choose not to ingest these poisons ourself, but willingly pass them on to our children?

Since the 1970’s High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) has replaced sucrose in sweetening most processed items on grocery shelves mostly because it is cheap, and manufacturers can realize a better profit if they use it. Sugar, you see, is an import in our country, and therefore subject to import taxes, whereas corn sits rotting in silos, already subsidized by our government. It makes sense to use the food we produce in our country to sweeten other foods produced in our country. That is vaguely what sustainability is all about, except that fructose does not act the same way in our bodies as sugar, or sucrose, and the pillar of sustainability is in producing a healthy, meaningful life that we want our children to inherit.

I’m not a chemist, in fact, I nearly flunked out of calculus in high school AND college but I can understand the basics of laboratory testing, and with HFCS the results are frightening. You feed rats high amounts of sucrose, and not much happens. You feed them high amounts of fructose and you see obesity, anemia, high cholesterol and heart hypertrophy. Male rats fail to develop mature sexual characteristics and females are unable to bear live children. Would you wish even the thought of that on your child?

Perhaps HFCS is ‘the demon of the day’ and no worse for us than sucrose, or trans fats or whatever is popular to hate. If we just eat less and exercise more, our bodies are designed to filter out all the impurities we ingest, right? But still, I’m not willing to take the risk with my daughter, for whom it is my job to protect, keep healthy and teach how to care for herself.

Is the price we are paying for super refined foods worth a few minutes of giddyness? Should our government subsidies dictate what is put in our food at the expense of our health? Ultimately, it’s up to us to decide what to purchase. Nobody is forcing me to eat HFCS, and since I have the choice, i’ll choose not to purchase products containing it. I guess that’s just how much I love my kid.

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One Response to “Food Isn’t Love Anymore”

  1. girlymama said

    HFCS is soooo bad… and its EVERYWHERE!!

    My dad buys my kids huge bags of candy when he sees them and it drives me NUTS. They’re not used to that kind of straight sugar so I end up peeling them off the walls and trying to put them to bed.

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