I kind of wanted to throw up my hands and stop trying to eat healthy altogether. In a world with ambiguities like this, how can anybody win? Organic corn syrup? I'm pretty sure I've used that exact phrase to explain to someone what an oxymoron is. What are you trying to pull, Whole Foods? It's not April Fool's Day!
And then I thought about it. You can break down pretty much any type of plant into a sugar in a more or less "natural" or "organic" way. That's the argument against the health benefits of fruit juices, and it's also the argument the Corn Refiners Association has been trying to shove down our throats for years.
So what's the difference between the innocent sounding "organic corn syrup" and the Orwellian acronym "HFCS?" As far as I can figure out, (and that's a big caveat, so, ya know, take it with a grain of non-iodized sea salt.) high fructose corn syrup, on top of being grown irresponsibly, fed to animals who can't digest it, and put in way too many food products than could ever make sense, is also messed with in a lab to give it more fructose that it naturally has, which makes it sweeter and less viscous, which makes it easier to put in Twinkies and graham crackers and Special K. Oh and did I mention it makes it even sweeter?
But even without all that, corn syrup is a simple sugar. It's not what you call a whole food. (Not in lower-case letters anyway.) And like those stupid TV spots used to say, "it's fine in moderation." The question becomes, what's moderation?
Health food is starting to go mainstream, and Whole Foods is right there to provide the demand for the supply, with its organic corn syrup and its Annie's mac'n'cheese and its vegan frozen pizzas. Is this kind of "health food" the new Diet Coke? Tricking us into thinking it's OK when it's really just more of the same? Would none of this be an issue if we were capable of pacing ourselves and truly moderating how much sugar we ingest? Or does Michael Pollan's food rule "don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize" come a few generations too late? Should we not be eating processed foods at all? There is that so-called Paleo movement where people try to live like cavemen, running around barefoot and eating raw meat and stuff. How extreme should we get with this?
But back to the organic corn syrup. 'Tis the season to indulge, and if I could find a way to justify baking with this, it would open up a whole new world. I could make my own caramel! I could make those little chocolate turtle things!
How about you? Do you bake with corn syrup? If not, what's your sweetener of choice? More importantly, how do you define "moderation," and how do you reign in your sweet tooth during the