Almost all of us have heard of high fructose corn syrup – grab any food product in your house with a label on it and it’s more likely than not that it will contain the substance. And although the ingredient has been universally shown to be terrible for you, it also seems to many to be contributing to the consistent rise of obesity in America. So if high fructose corn syrup is so awful, why is it still allowed to be used in so many foods?
The issue starts with occasional misinformation. Many drinks companies occasionally place the label ‘100% natural’ on their drinks, but they also load them with high fructose corn syrup. They say that it’s natural because it’s made from corn, but so many chemical processes go into the creation of it that it can hardly seem to be a natural thing, and few people (aside from the ones making money off of it, of course), consider it to be so.
The second issue is obviously money. Our country cares so much about money that it is willing to sacrifice its own citizens’ health for the sake of it. High fructose corn syrup is cheaper than sugar, so companies choose to put it in their foods and save a lot of money doing so. But with more and more dietitians claiming the substance is horrible for you, more people have lost interest in purchasing it. And that’s what consumer freedom in America is all about, right?
In my opinion, that treads a very dangerous line. I agree that consumers should be responsible for their purchases so long as corporations are honest about their labeling. However, there comes a point where consumers sometimes don’t have a choice of whether they eat healthy or not. Yes, when you go to a grocery store, you can look at food products to see if they have high fructose corn syrup in them or other harmful ingredients. But what about at a friend’s party, or when you’re at a restaurant? The substances in the food are completely unknown to you, and these situations are sometimes not avoidable in everyday life. There are also people out there who don’t have the money to purchase natural or organic food, and so they suffer because they may have to choose to eat some products with corn syrup or simply not eat. Should it be this way in America? Why should every consumer have to be an alert vigilante at the supermarket merely because they can’t trust the food companies they are purchasing from? I think that companies are profiting at the expense of the consumer, and though we have a choice, as more and more of the market becomes filled with corn syrup, the options become less and less frequent.
Of course corn syrup isn’t the only factor in our lives that contributes to obesity. Americans can live a very sedentary lifestyle, and the constant lack of diet and exercise and the need to just eat what we want powers obesity quite a bit. But people have so many things to deal with on a day to day basis sometimes that they should not have to be paranoid about what’s placed in their food, and the constant lack of regulation in how much of it is loaded with such an unnatural poison. Consumers need to be responsible for their food, but right now too much of that responsibility is being forced on them. After all, if every single item in a grocery store aside from produce and water had its first ingredient as high fructose corn syrup, I think that consumer would hardly be responsible for making a poor decision when there are virtually no others. America is drifting closer and closer to this, and though making corn syrup illegal isn’t necessarily the solution, companies should start taking responsibility for the trouble their products cause and use real sugar instead of corn syrup.