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Tag: High Fructose Corn Syrup

Processed Food

Posted in Food for Thought

Processed foods are everywhere. Supermarkets are full of them. It’s true that humans have always processed food through cooking, fermenting, drying, etc. However, that processing is minimal when compared to industrial processing.

In the grand scheme of things, industrially processed foods are new. They’ve only been around for little over 100 hundred years. Most of the chemical additives, preservatives, and flavors are less than 50 years old. Mankind is participating in a mass experiment. An experiment to see whether eating chemical food is really safe. Not whether it is safe short term, but whether it’s safe long term.

Humans have been eating minimally processed foods for thousands of years. You may believe that we were designed this way or evolved to this, but either way, the message is the same. Humans are not meant to eat highly processed foods. Our ancestors never ate MSG, refined vegetable oils, artificial sweeteners, or large amounts of refined carbohydrates. Nowadays, up to 5,000 additives find their way into our food.[3]

What do Common Diets Have in Common?

There are many popular diets floating around. Most of them are fad diets that don’t live up to their claims. However, there are three popular diets that have stuck around. Because they do get results. The strange thing is, they couldn’t be more different.

The Paleo Diet, also called the caveman diet. It recommends only foods that would have been available during the paleolithic era: all animal foods, including fat and dairy, eggs, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and low-glycemic fruits.

The Mediterranean Diet calls for less meat and emphasizes everything plant based: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and lots of olive oil. Dairy, fish and poultry are limited to moderate amounts while red meat is only allowed sparingly.  

Whole Food, Plant Based, also known as vegan. On this diet you’re allowed lots of unprocessed starches from potatoes, sweet potatoes, whole grains, and some vegetables and fruit. Very little fat is allowed, even from plants.

So how could all three of these diets possibly claim similar success? One is high in animal fat, one is high in plant based fat, while the last is low in all fat. These diets are as different as apples, oranges, and hot dogs. But they do have one thing in common. They all shun heavily processed food. Refined flour, refined sugar, industrially processed vegetable oils, lab-produced additives and preservatives. Pretty much anything you buy at a fast food restaurant or prepackaged supermarket junk food.

So it seems to me that the removal of animal products isn’t the answer. It’s removing highly processed ingredients from your diets. You won’t find that in a box on the supermarket shelf. These foods are full of additives and components that maximize shelf life. The longer the expiration date, the more profitable. Real food goes bad. Milk sours, meat spoils, vegetables wilt. Processed food is designed to not perish. Consider this, if a food has a shelf life longer than you, maybe you shouldn’t eat it.

What do Highly Processed Foods do to Us?

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is comprised of around 78% processed glutamic acid and 22% sodium with moisture. While natural glutamic acid is used in the biosynthesis of proteins, the processed free glutamic acid causes people to suffer adverse reactions. MSG is associated with cancer, obesity, and irritable bowel syndrome.[4]

MSG is a money maker for the food industry. Eating it forces the release of insulin even with no carbohydrates present. This flood of insulin causes the person’s blood sugar to drop, making them feel hungry as quickly as an hour later.[9] Chinese food anyone? This insulin flood is also responsible for weight gain. Insulin is a fat producing hormone. The primary way it removes sugar from the blood is by storing it as fat.

Avoiding MSG can be tricky. Even foods marketed as having “no added MSG” can contain high amounts of free glutamate. MSG is camouflaged under many different names. Ingredients such as: flavors, natural flavors, maltodextrin, citric acid, gelatin, enzymes, and more, may contain MSG.[9]

In his book, A Life Unburdened: Getting Over Weight and Getting on with My Life, Richard Morris describes how eliminating all processed foods containing MSG allowed him to finally lose the weight he had been fighting to lose.

Vegetable oil as a product is a bit misleading. Vegetable oil is not made from vegetables. It’s made from seeds. Mostly soybeans or corn, but also rapeseed(canola), cottonseed, peanut, sunflower, grapeseed, etc. Crude vegetable oil is dark, sticky and smelly. It has to go through a heavy refining process to produce a clean-looking and smelling oil. Degumming, bleaching, deodorizing, filtering, and removing saturates. Many processors add hexane to squeeze every last drop of oil from the seeds. In the process, antioxidants and nutrients disappear, but much of the pesticides remain.[1]

The rise in vegetable oil consumption occurred as americans decreased our consumption of saturated fats. In 1909, 82% of the fat we ate came from animals. 100 years later, only 44% of our total fat intake came from animals, while 66% came from processed vegetable oils.[3] Much of this oil has been partially hydrogenated, creating trans fat.

We’ve been eating saturated fats from animals and tropical oils for thousands of years. Our bodies know what to do with them. When presented with trans fat, our bodies can’t tell the difference. These trans fats get used to build cell membranes.[2]  The more trans fats we eat, the more synthetic our bodies become. Because of the chemical substitution, reactions that should happen can’t happen. Enzymes and receptors no longer work properly..

The dangers don’t stop there. Even non-hydrogenated oils can be dangerous, especially in fast food. Restaurants typically cook at high temperatures, these temperatures cause polyunsaturated oils to oxidize. Turning linoleic acid into a toxic aldehyde called 4-hydroxynonenal that seeps into the food being fried.[3, 10] This toxic aldehyde interferes with DNA. Another aldehyde byproduct is formaldehyde. You know, the stuff morticians use to embalm dead people.[2, 3]

You’ll find vegetable oils in many products in the supermarket: Salad dressings, crackers, bread, cereals, peanut butter, etc. Luckily, vegetable oil is much easier to spot than MSG. It may be listed under its plant name: soybean, canola/rapeseed, cottonseed, corn, etc.

White Sugar is pure sucrose, derived from sugarcane or sugar beets. It’s a combination of glucose and fructose. High fructose corn syrup is similar to sugar except that instead of being half glucose and half fructose, it’s mostly fructose. The processing of sugar eliminates the vitamins or minerals.[7] Sugar is a heavily refined product, much like cocaine. In fact, brain scans show that our brains light up the same way for sugar as they do for cocaine.[3] This makes sugar addictive. It isn’t your sweet tooth making you want sugar, it’s your brain.

Our sugar consumption has skyrocketed in the last three hundred years. In 1700, average sugar consumption was 4 pounds a year per person. In 1800 it went up to 18 pounds a year. Then the industrial revolution made sugar cheaper and consumption quintupled to 90 pounds per year. Now with the advent of modern farming and subsidies, sugar consumption is up to 180 pounds per year. That’s one cup of sugar a day. Of course, this is just an average. Some people consume more than one cup of sugar a day.[7]

While sugar consumption was on the rise in the last two hundred years, so has obesity rates. In 1890, the US obesity rate for white males was 3.4%. In 1975, the rate for the entire population was 15%. By 2010, it was 32% and climbing.[7] Now this does not mean that sugar alone is making us fat, but it is an interesting correlation. Sugar may not be the only factor in our obesity epidemic, but i would argue such high consumption is not doing anyone any good.

Everyone knows that sugar is a risk factor for diabetes and hypoglycemia. But it’s also been associated with many other diseases: ADHD, cancer, depression, candida overgrowth, fatty liver disease, high blood pressure, malnutrition, obesity, poor sleep, and more.[7]

Avoiding sugar isn’t easy. It’s easily one of the most popular food additives. Whether it’s in the form of regular sugar or high fructose corn syrup, it’s everywhere. A half cup serving of Prego Traditional contains more than two teaspoons of sugar.[3] Even healthy sounding items can be sugar laden. A typical bottle of chocolate milk contains more sugar than a similar bottle of soda.[2] A medium fruit-and-yogurt smoothie at dunkin donuts contains four times as much sugar as a chocolate-frosted cake doughnut.[6] It’ll be okay, right? After all, yogurt is good for you, isn’t it?

Artificial Sweeteners are not a suitable substitute for sugar. Aspartame, the one in the blue packages, is the most popular sugar substitute. When digested, it will break down into methanol and formaldehyde. Aspartame can also lead to headaches, brain cancer, seizures, and damaged vision.[7] Sucralose(splenda) has not had very good results in test animals. Reduced immunity, decreased red blood cells, problems with liver and kidneys were found.[7]

Agave Nectar is not a health food. It is made the same way as high fructose corn syrup. A process where starch(glucose) is converted into fructose. The body cannot use fructose very well. While glucose can be metabolized by any cell in the body, fructose must be metabolized in the liver. Heavy consumption of agave or high fructose corn syrup can lead to liver damage. In fact, rats fed high fructose diets end up with livers like those of alcoholics.[7]

White Flour is what’s left after processing strips virtually all the nutrients and fiber out of whole grain wheat. Whole wheat is rich in nutrients. During processing, the bran and wheat germ are removed. At the same time, the B and E vitamins as well as many minerals are removed.[11] Wheat germ oil contains 136 mg of vitamin E per 100 grams.[8] White flour contains practically nil. To make up for this deficiency, synthetic vitamins are added to ‘fortify’. Some synthetic B vitamins are derived from coal tar.[11] Yummy.

Synthetic vitamins can lead to imbalances. As the body works to fix the imbalance deficiency in certain B vitamins can develop. Symptoms can include: depression, anxiety, fatigue, irritability, poor memory, trouble sleeping, and more.[11]

You already know that eating too much sugar will lead to blood sugar spikes. What you may not know is that white flour breaks down into sugar when digested. This leads to the same blood sugar spike as sugar. When blood sugar spikes in a healthy person, the pancreas pumps out insulin to bring the level back down to normal. This can lead to a crash in blood sugar levels as the glucose is stored as fat, burned, or eliminated. You may have experienced a crash like this after eating heavy carbohydrate snacks like doughnuts.


As you can see, the answer isn’t in eliminating any one type of food. Low-carb, low-fat, low-protein, none of these are the answer. The only consistently effective way to live healthy or lose weight seems to be eliminating highly processed foods, while eating moderate amounts of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. And of course, plenty of fruits and vegetables.

While most of the food at your local supermarket falls into the highly processed category, not everything does. One good strategy is to shop the edges. This is where the minimally processed whole foods are kept. Meat, dairy, produce, eggs, cheese. Look at the labels, can you pronounce all the ingredients? That’s a good start.  

Edge foods from the supermarket are definitely healthier than their processed cohorts, but they’re still raised using industrial methods. Pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, herbicides; even the most basic products of a supermarket can contain these. Not to mention the inhumane ways industrial farms treat their animals.

By far, the best source of food for your family is local farms. Farms where you can visit and see how the animals are raised. You can verify that no hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, or herbicides are used. If you need help finding local farms visit, or



  2. The Big Fat Surprise, Nina Teicholz, 2014
  5. Cholesterol Is Not the Culprit, Fred A. Kummerow, PhD with Jean M. Kummerow, PhD

Everything is Corn

Posted in Food for Thought

Corn is an amazing plant. It has managed to insert itself in nearly every facet of modern daily life. It dominates the food pyramid from top to bottom. Many breads contain corn syrup, added gluten, corn starch, etc. all of these ingredients can be derived from corn. Breakfast cereals frequently contain corn syrup, corn flour, corn starch, maltodextrin, and many other corn products.

If you shop at the grocery store, corn is in nearly every product. Even if you don’t recognize it on the label. Many of those esoteric ingredients you find on a label can be derived from corn. Maltodextrin, lecithin, MSG, Artificial flavorings, just to name a few. Did you think citric acid came from oranges? Chances are it came from corn.

Corn feeds nearly every type of livestock. Beef, chickens, pigs, turkey, tilapia, and even salmon, a carnivore, eat corn. Eggs are made of corn. Milk is made of corn. Soda is made with corn syrup. Beer is fermented with glucose, derived from corn. Chicken nuggets are made from chicken that’s made of corn, covered in corn flour, and fried in corn oil. That cheap honey you bought may be more corn than bee.

Even if you’re not buying food, you’re probably still buying corn. Namely corn starch. Many glues are made with corn starch. Corn starch baby powder is becoming more popular with the revelation that talcum powder may cause cancer. Batteries, matches, cleaners, cosmetics, deodorant, aspirin, cough drops, and medicines. These all contain corn starch. Even trash bags may use cornstarch to keep the bags from sticking together.

Corn oil is used to make plastics. It is also used to make fuel to run our cars. Corn ethanol is touted as a green alternative to gasoline. Yet it is made in a process that is far from green. And it may even be harmful to your car’s engine. Not all vehicles are designed to run on ethanol.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, 88% of the corn grown in the United States is genetically modified.1 Unless you are buying an organic product, then chances are the corn it contains in genetically modified.

You may wonder, “Isn’t this a good thing? Isn’t more corn good a good thing?” Well it’s certainly for the economy and for the food companies. They profit off this cheap corn. It may even be a good thing for corn growers. At least the farmers who are big enough to not require a day job to pay the bills.

Processed Corn Products are Dangerous

High Fructose Corn Syrup. Surely you’ve heard of it. It is one of the most prolific of the corn products behind only corn starch. Unlike glucose, fructose has to be metabolized by the liver before it can be used.2 Overconsumption of HFCS can lead to liver damage similar to what you would find in an alcoholic.3

MSG is primarily made from soy or corn, but can be made from many other grains. Is associated with cancer, obesity, and irritable bowel syndrome.4 

Citric Acid is produced by the fermentation of crude sugars. Corn usually provides the cheapest source of sugar. During processing, protein left in the citric acid becomes hydrolyzed, producing some processed free glutamic acid (MSG). citric acid may interact with any protein in the food product, freeing up even more glutamic acid.5

Vegetable Oil is made from corn, soy, cottonseed, or canola. They are refined in a highly industrial process. Solvents are used to extract the maximum amount of oil from the grain. Processing may include degumming, bleaching, deodorizing, filtering and removing saturates to make the oils more liquid. All this processing removes nutrients and antioxidants, but not the solvents and pesticides.6

Shortening and Margarine are made by subjecting vegetable oil to a process called partial hydrogenation. The oil is mixed with a nickel catalyst then flooded with hydrogen gas under high temperature and pressure. This is the process that creates trans fatty acids. As you may know, trans fats have been linked to many diseases such as: cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and more.7

Growing Corn doesn’t Pay (much)

Growing corn can’t be all bad. Otherwise there would be no one growing it. It’s pretty obvious that farmers aren’t doing it for the money. Their mission is to help feed the world. There aren’t many corn farmers getting rich off growing corn. The problem is the price, Which farmers have no control over.

The price of corn in Iowa in September 2016 was $2.90 a bushel.8 According to Iowa State University, the average cost to grow a bushel of corn is between $4.00 and $4.75.9 That’s still a deficit of over a dollar per bushel even on the low side. This is where corn subsidies come in. The government sends a check to corn farmers to keep them from going out of business. Despite this extra money, many farmers are still only breaking even. They have to take day jobs to pay the bills.

Corn is grown in giant monocultures. Hybridization and genetic modification have created high yield varieties. High yield does not mean more corn per plant. Instead, it means you can plant the corn closer together to get more plants per acre. Farmers can now squeeze 30,000 plants into one acre.10 Squeezing so many identical plants into each acre can lead to disease and pest problems.

In 1970 and 1971 corn fields were attacked by a fungal disease named “race T”. it caused the southern corn leaf blight which ravaged fields and left withered plants, broken stalks, and rotted or misshapen corn cobs. Race T was able to spread so rapidly due to the uniformity of the corn plants. Every single plant in a field was derived from the same source. Mostly from a single Texas male sterile line. The genetic makeup of this new hybrid corn which was responsible for its rapid growth was also responsible for its vulnerability to disease.11

The Federal Crop Insurance Program offers insurance against such disasters. However, depending on how much a farmer is willing to spend on premiums, the insurance may not cover a total loss.

Everything is Fertilizer

If everything is corn, then by extension, everything is fertilizer. Most of the corn grown in the world is grown using chemical fertilizers. Corn is a very greedy plant, It uses more fertilizer than any other crop grown on earth. And to make matters worse, most farmers over-fertilize their fields as a sort of yield insurance.

Some of this excess ammonia evaporates into the air, acidifying the rain and contributing to global warming when it turns from ammonium nitrate to nitrous oxide. Still more pollutes ground water when it seeps down with rainwater. This is a natural process, what’s not natural is the chemicals.

Most of the extra fertilizer washed off the fields by rain and ends up in the nearest river. Des Moines, Iowa issues “blue baby alerts” each spring. Citizens are warned not to give tap water to children. From there it flows down the Mississippi river to the Gulf of Mexico. The flood of nitrogen stimulates an algae bloom which uses up the oxygen and smothers the fish. This has resulted in a dead zone the size of New Jersey. 10

The commercial chemical fertilizer typically used in corn farming is a type of NPK fertilizer mix. The N stand for nitrogen, the P stands for phosphate, and the K stands for potassium. These minerals require extensive mining and industrial processing to refine.

How Fertilizer is Made

Nitrogen fertilizers are made from ammonia. Ammonia is made by Combining nitrogen and hydrogen gases under immense heat and pressure in the presence of a catalyst. The hydrogen is usually supplied by natural gas, the nitrogen is supplied by the air. This process requires a lot of electricity.

Phosphate fertilizer requires mining various phosphate rock. Two processes are used: Wet and Dry. In the wet process, the rock is crushed and treated with sulfuric or nitric acid to produce phosphoric acid. In the dry process, phosphate rock is heated in an electric furnace to produce a very pure phosphoric acid. This method is more expensive due to the high electricity usage.

Potassium consists of one or more types of potash. Potash ores are often located deep below the earth’s surface requiring the use of conventional shaft mining. The ore is then ground up and put through several purification steps to remove salt.

The largest component of NPK fertilizer is nitrogen, and there’s good reason for that. All life on earth depends of nitrogen. Nature uses nitrogen to assemble amino acids, proteins, nucleic acids, etc. the nitrogen used in commercial fertilizer comes from a fossil fuel. We’ve gone from turning sunlight into food, to turning fossil fuel into food.

1 bushel of corn takes up to ⅓ gallon of oil to grow. That’s about 50 gallons an acre. It takes over 1 calorie of fossil fuel energy to grow 1 calorie of corn. It would be much more efficient if we could drink the oil directly.10

It’s cheaper to grow corn this way economically, but not ecologically. But growing the corn is not the only wasteful step in food production. Now we have to process the corn.

Processing Corn is Wasteful

It takes 5 gallons of water to process 1 bushel of corn. This process consumes a lot of energy. 1 calorie of processed food takes 10 calories of fossil fuel energy to produce.10 The remaining 9 calories are waste. Luckily for these companies, energy is so cheap that they can afford to waste that much energy and still make a profit.

The number one reason corn syrup is cheaper than sugar is because corn is extremely cheap. Corn is so cheap because it is grown with cheap fertilizer, transported using cheap fuel, and processed using cheap electricity.

One 16 ounce box of cereal provides 1,100,000 calories of food energy, but takes 7,000,000 calories of energy to produce.11 That box of cereal contains about 4 cents worth of grain, but it’s sold for around $4.00 a box.10 How’s that for a profit margin? Who cares how much energy we waste? The money is rolling in.

It’s Time to Change Our Buying Habits

Don’t like all the negative? Here’s how to change your dependence on corn and soy. First, you need to ask yourself a few questions. Does your food heal the land, or pillage it? Does your food require fertilizers mined from mountains and oceans, then transported thousands of miles to the land it grows on? How much energy does it take to produce your food? Is it less than the energy is provides?

The easiest way to change this is to cook more food yourself using whole and raw ingredients. Organic farming requires less fossil fuel energy to grow since they do not use man made chemical fertilizer. It also eliminates much of the pollution inherent in conventional farming. The only major pollution cost is transportation. Buying locally grown food will reduce that even further. So visit your local farmer’s market. Seek out local farms. You’ll be glad you did.



  2. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 2002 Vol. 76, No. 5, 911-922.
  10. The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan, 2006
  11. Soil Not Oil, Vandana Shiva, 2015