Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Corn Syrup Lobby

While contemplating whether to drive to the local CVS, Tracey and I wound up discussing our unhealthy obsession with gummy peach rings (which come in a convenient 2 lbs. bag under the CVS gold label).

This got me thinking about a strange set of advertisements I have been seeing recently about corn syrup.

There is even a website dedicated to promoting the golden sweetener called Sweet Surprise.
This whole campaign makes me feel a little strange.

In an attempt to be fair and balanced, I wanted to include a link to an article that explores the ties between high fructose corn syrup and childhood obesity. Here is one from Arizona State University. Sadly, it's no match for a slickly produced commercial. Who likes to read charts and graphs?

This is a difficult issue to tackle, and I don't claim to have expert answers on the subject of school children and their diets. In some ways I agree that, in moderation, it's fine to enjoy sweet treats. In my years in the classroom, I've encountered many families who keep strict diets and limit all sweet treats. Sadly, these are the children that I would find sneaking under the snack tables to eat rogue M&M's, or secretively trading away parts of their lunch for contraband. 

There are many schools that observe no outside food policies (such as B-Day cupcakes, or pizza parties). I'm not convinced that this is the answer, though as a teacher, I can say I wouldn't miss trays of store-bought cupcakes that are quickly separated from their frosting leaving piles of crumbs and slimy wrappers in their wakes. 

There is no question that childhood obesity is a serious threat in our vending machine culture. In my mind the easiest way to make sure your kids are eating right is to cook it yourself, and perhaps even include them in the process. Finding time can be tricky, and knowing what to make for young food critics is tough.  Here are a couple of resources I found:

I guess at the end of the day, moderation is the key to everything. Water can be toxic if consumed in large enough amounts (WikiAnswers)! Banning foods can make them all the more enticing and kids often find a way to get what they want. Perhaps I should go with the small bag of gummy peach rings!

"This ice cream is too spicy for me!" ~Kira (age 4) tasting peppermint ice cream.


Anne Deysher said...

What wise an considerate advice. Our feelings at the nursery school exactly! I shall share this on with my parents...
Oh, and the peachy gummy rings are probably not too great for your teeth either!

Cosimo DeCoster-Pacetta said...

I think that Michael Pollan has been very influential in getting people to think about HFCS, which is implicated not only with obesity but also national and even international food policy. This review of Omnivore's Dilemma is kind of an introduction to the complications inherent in our national corn policy.

Trixie3000 said...

Wow, Cosi, you've got some very mature views for a toddler!