Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011
Now he says, “High-Fructose Corn Syrup Is Not Necessarily Worse Than Sugar.”
In the past, when Michael Pollan talked about the food industry, people listened. You might know him as the author of In Defense of Food. Pollan used to wield a lot of influence among those who care about mindful eating, both in terms of health and sustainability, but as with all food terrorists he so exaggerated his unscientific and repeated condemnation of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as particularly harmful has he lost his creditability. He had done great harm to the sweetener’s reputation over the past few years with his damaging remarks.
But now Pollan is changing his public stance on HFCS. He was asked about the dangers of HFCS in a recent interview with the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, and he flip-flopped on his past opinion.
“I’ve done a lot to demonize it (HFCS),” he says. “And people took away the message that there was something intrinsically wrong with it. A lot of research says this isn’t the case. But there is a problem with how much total sugar we consume.” High-fructose corn syrup is cheaper than sugar, so it traditionally was pumped into a lot of foods, including savory items.
“It shows the brilliance of the industry, which is always a couple of steps ahead of me,” Pollan says. “They started giving products made of real sugar health claims and [are] trying to make sugar look good.” And that is a problem.
In the same interview, he cites both the demonization of high-fructose corn syrup and the craze for gluten-free products as examples of the faddishness of nutritional thinking.
As with all of these self-proclaimed experts, this guy doesn’t know which end is up. Both sugar and corn products are natural and sustainable and are easily grown right here in the United States keeping a lot of our farmers in business. Quite frankly, I think Pollan just likes to hear the sound of his own voice and the cash register ring when he sells his over-priced books.
Now, at Choclatique we don’t use a lot of corn syrups. We probably use as much rice syrup as the alternative. We do use Hawaiian-grown cane sugar as we like the taste and the functionality of what it does for our confections. I don’t own stock in Archer-Daniels-Midland, the largest provider of corn syrups. I don’t work for them nor consult with them so I have no ax to grind unless it’s with people of influence who, quite frankly, don’t really know what the hell they’re talking about.