Off-Ramp | Off-Ramp host John Rabe and contributors share thoughts on arts, culture, and life in L.A.

On Corn, and Sugar


Kevin Ferguson here. Hope it's alright if we talk national issues for a minute. You know about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), right? Don't like it too much? Me neither. Yesterday, the LA Times talked about a new semantics debate:

"Much in the same way that troubled companies change names to improve their reputations, the Corn Refiners Assn. is trying to do away with high-fructose corn syrup ...The trade group said that it was petitioning the Food and Drug Administration to replace the phrase 'high-fructose corn syrup' with 'corn sugar.'"

Part of the reasoning behind it is sales. Nobody likes HFCS now and they want to stop their product from becoming the new trans-fat. And with products like Sara Lee bread and Capri Sun already dropping HFCS from their ingredients list, they'll need to change hearts and minds real quick. 

And the reaction has been mixed: the New York Times came out in favor of it in an editorial yesteray. But the reliably snarky and sketpical Consumerist was, well, snarky and skeptical about the Corn Refiners' campaign, calling it "propaganda."

I think this is a silly debate. If opponents of "corn sugar" win, HFCS will keep it's taboo name, more companies will follow Capri Sun's lead and replace HFCS with cane or beet sugar. If they lose, it'll stay and be called "corn sugar." Regardless, it's still a sweetener, still not great for you. It's a lose-lose situation all around. Wouldn't it be better if kids stopped drinking sugary liquids altogether?

What do you think?

Is this sounding familiar? Here's Off-Ramp contributor Christopher Murray as agribusiness tycoon Nick Newport on an episode of Parks and Rec.