Hi, my name is Ryan Weeks and my wife and I operate a grain farm in South Central Nebraska and this is the first blog post for us on our new blog called “Days of the Weeks”. It is a post born of a restless night of sleep contemplating food, the production of it, and the story behind it.
I spent most of the day yesterday debating on Facebook with one of my relatives as to the safety of HFCS(high fructose corn syrup), compared to cane and beet sugar. For the record, this is not my only relative who has the belief that HFCS is Satan in corn clothing (they do make clothing material out of corn you know). It really lit a fire in me that a person so close to our farm could have a view 100% opposite of mine in relation to a product produced from a raw material I provide that feeds the world. Anyone who knows me knows that I love debate, some would call it arguing, but I do love the art of a conversational debate, and do like to win them. This one however I never had a chance. Instead of stating why I disagreed, I posted a smartass remark that only escalated the hate for my belief that HFCS is the same as table sugar (50%glucose, and 50% fructose). I personally do not like sugar, and not in a small way either as I am type 2 diabetic. My body literally hates sugar, and doesn’t differentiate between what kind of sugar it is. It reacts to the glycemic index of foods, but not the different kinds of the same sugar if you know what I mean.
So, what I found myself doing was defending a product produced from my corn in a way I did not mean to defend it. All sugar in large amounts such as in soda is a bad thing no matter what kind of sugar it is, cane, beet, corn, etc. etc. My only point was that they were the same, but because I was so upset with the fact I was once again defending a product made from a material produced on my farm, I lost my focus. I do not personally care what a person eats, or doesn’t eat, as long as they are receiving correct information that is scientific, not emotional on what their food really is. We are very spoiled in the USA by the fact that we have food choices. Most citizens of this world do not have food choice, they eat what is available if anything is available to eat.
The fact of the matter is that we have a consumption problem with sugar in this country. It is not a chemistry, processing problem, or corn farmer problem. Removing HFCS from soda in the USA is not going to reduce the amount of total sugar consumed in this country, in fact it might increase it as the food industry is now proclaiming “real sugar” as the new sexy thing in food. They couldn’t defend HFCS, so they jumped on the sugar bandwagon and are proclaiming it through marketing as a safe alternative to HFCS, creating a false sense of security by letting people think that 5 Dr. Peppers with sugar are better for you than 5 Dr. Peppers with HFCS. Even their own scientists and researchers, along with many others agree that sugar, is sugar, is sugar, but market forces and the sale of their products is number one, whether containing sugar or sugar (HFCS), they have to maintain market share with their products.
Hopefully posts in the future will be much lighter, and less like a lecture, but we as farmers need to tell our story, talk about our farms, the products produced on our farms and what they become. We have spent too long letting Oprah, Dr. Oz, HSUS, ASPCA, Farm Sanctuary, Michael Pollan and others tell our story. Stand up and be heard. I am going to whether anyone wishes to listen or not.
So, to my cousin’s wife, I am sorry for not saying that HFCS(corn sugar) can be bad, because in large quantities, which it is in our food today, it can be bad. Although, sugar(cane and beet sugar) is equally as bad in large quantities. Most anything in this world consumed in a certain quantity can be lethal or have a negative effect on our health, even water in large quantities can be lethal. Moderation is the key.
By the way, I would die for a Mountain Dew Throwback and a Butterfinger. Can literally smell the Butterfinger just thinking about it. It has been almost 10 years since I have had either!!! Mmmmmm!!!