My chiropractor had the movie King Corn playing at today’s appointment. This movie is a documentary about two friends who move to Greene, Iowa and grow corn. Sounds amazing, right?
Actually, it’s pretty interesting and at times gruesome. Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis move to Iowa to grow corn. They convince a local farmer to let them “borrow” an acre of land, grow the corn, and then try to track their corn. This is when they discover that the corn they grow isn’t sold to eat. It’s sold to the government and turned into High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).
- Turn the corn into cornstarch.
- Treat the cornstarch with alpha-amylase to produce shorter chains of sugars called oligosaccharides.
- Add glucoamylase – which is produced by Aspergillus, species of mold, in a fermentation vat — breaks the sugar chains down even further to yield the simple sugar glucose.
- Xylose isomerase (aka glucose isomerase) converts glucose to a mixture of about 42% fructose and 50–52% glucose with some other sugars mixed in.
While inexpensive alpha-amylase and glucoamylase are added directly to the slurry and used only once, the more costly xylose-isomerase is packed into columns and the sugar mixture is then passed over it, allowing it to be used repeatedly until it loses its activity. This 42–43% fructose glucose mixture is then subjected to a liquid chromatography step, where the fructose is enriched to about 90%. The 90% fructose is then back-blended with 42% fructose to achieve a 55% fructose final product. Most manufacturers use carbon adsorption for impurity removal. Numerous filtration, ion-exchange and evaporation steps are also part of the overall process.
Did your eyes glaze over like mine? Does anyone know what half of those ingredients are? Or what half of those steps mean?
The movie also discusses the food industry and how SO many of our foods in the US/Canada (and even the UK) are made of corn — and how so many of the animals we go on to eat are FED corn. The most disturbing scene is one where they show a cow with a HOLE in it’s stomach. Why does it have the hole?? From the corn of course.
In her book, Mastering Your Metabolism, Jillian Michaels also talks about the dangers of HFCS. Because it’s not natural, HFCS alters your hormone balance and has been attributed to the rise in obesity, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and fatty-liver disease. When SHE cut soda (a major HFCS contributor) and other processed foods out of her diet, she lost weight and her endocrine system, that was failing her, began working properly again. SCARY.
I know there are few commercials out there about how HFCS is the “same as sugar” — and sure sugar is NOT good for you either — but eating HFCS is DEFINITELY not the alternative! Don’t believe that crap. The next time you go grocery shopping — check out the labels. You will be SHOCKED at the number of items that list High Fructose Corn Syrup, High Glucose Corn Syrup, or High Fructose Maize Syrup in the labels. The biggest offenders? Soda, bread, salad dressing, ketchup, crackers, & cereal. Fiber One bars?? Yep, they have HFCS. Heinz ketchup? You betcha.
As for the movie – if you have a chance to watch it I do recommend it. It’s not pretentious like some documentaries can be. It’s honest and straight from the heart and despite the topic, they are not stuffing it down your throat. They just want to you know.
This year I vowed to stop eating foods with HFCS. I am (sadly) not always successful, but I have changed what brands I buy BECAUSE of it. HFCS is NOT necessary for our diet and we deserve better.
Have you watched King Corn? Are you surprised about what kinds of food have HFCS? I know I was!