Corn Commentary

Misconstrued Statements Aren’t So Sweet

Frequently, CornCommentary serves as a place to correct the many errors, fallacies and misrepresentations that plague media coverage of agriculture.  With 98.5 percent of the population totally uninvolved in farming or farm-related activities and deep labor cuts at outlets across the country eliminating staff with any ag knowledge, this problem may seem endemic.  Other times, it becomes evident that controversy sells and, should it not appear organically, some journalists happily create it.

Corn farmers have an unlikely ally in correcting the fallacies surrounding high fructose corn syrup though – Michael Pollan.  Often viewed as an enemy of modern production agriculture, Pollan has come out clarifying statements he made that, in his own opinion, portray the sweetener unfairly.

This week, his rebuttals once again took center stage with websites highlighting a recent interview in which Pollan told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, Ohio’s largest newspaper, that his problem with sweetener in the American diet is based upon the amount consumed, not the type.

This statement is completely in line with earlier expressions of his viewpoint, such as that in his popular work Food Rules, an Eater’s Manual.  While he does caution readers to cut down on their overall sugar intake, he pointedly notes that this includes sweetener of any kind and not just HFCS.

“Don’t fall for the food industry’s latest scam: products reformulated to contain ‘no HFCS’ or ‘real cane sugar,’” he states. “These claims imply these foods are somehow healthier, but they’re not. Sugar is sugar.”

Yet again, Pollan confirms the idea that a balanced diet leads to good health.  It may be simpler to demonize a single ingredient, but the results of doing so will not be as effective.  Instead, make healthy eating simple by moderating sugar intake without wasting time worrying about which specific sweetener it is.