Moving one more step forward with our goal to eat Real Food, I decided to fully remove high fructose corn syrup(HFCS) from our kitchen. There has been a lot of debate in recent years, with one side arguing that HFCS contributes to obesity and the other side claiming that it is just the same as table sugar. The information out there is overwhelming, and while I know I don’t want to eat it anymore, I’ve been doing a bit of research to figure out why I don’t want to eat it anymore.
HFCS is a sweetener that is made from corn and is used in a large amount of processed foods on the market. While table sugar is comprised of 50% fructose and 50% glucose, HFCS is made up of approximately 55% fructose and 42% glucose, plus some other sugars. Science is not a strength for me, so I understood little of what I was reading on Wikipedia. Basically HFCS is close to table sugar, but not quite the same chemically.
Opponents to HFCS say that while sugar is bad in any form, HFCS has contributed to a rise in obesity over the years, and can also contribute to heart disease, diabetes and chronic disease. On the Corn Refiners Association website Sweet Surprise, an abundant amount of information is included advocating the use of HFCS. After reading their list of the benefits of HFCS, I realized my stance on this debate. Most of the benefits listed are not actual benefits at all, to me at least. Many of the benefits would be the same with sugar, like better taste and increased flavor. The other benefits they included were a reason why I’m moving to a Real Food diet. Things like “moisture control,” “retards spoiling,” “stability” and “extends product freshness” are all creative ways for saying this can sit on your shelf for a long time. Longer that it really should, which is great for food manufacturers, but probably not so good for me.
So the other day I set out to remove HFCS from my kitchen. I didn’t think this would be too bad, since I had done the same thing about 2 years ago. Back then, I was able to do it pretty easily with the exception of a few items. I haven’t been paying too close attention to food labels for a while, so I was interested to see what I would find. As I started reading labels, I found some other food additives that I was wary of and I pulled those out too. So the pictures throughout this post are of food that I removed that includes:
I don’t think I will miss these items, since I know I can either make my own version, or we weren’t really eating them to begin with. You can also find products that don’t contain these ingredients, as long as you do a bit of reading at the grocery store. I have found it easy to find bread and ketchup made without HFCS at conventional grocery stores, but it is harder for pickles and relish. Some pickle brands were labeled “no sugar added” but that just meant they had artificial sweeteners. I finally found some at a natural food store, and then recently found some in a conventional store in the organic section.
My husband wasn’t very happy to see all this food going to waste, but I wasn’t really interested in eating it anymore. Any food that was unopened was set aside for the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive this weekend, where you can leave non-perishable food items by your mailbox for your letter carrier to collect.
This didn’t remove all of the processed food in our home, but it’s a good start. What foods do you have in your kitchen that could be switched out?