I’ve always avoided high-fructose corn syrup. But I’ve also always avoided sugar, period. I was never sure if I should avoid one more than another. Instead, I aim to choose items that are in their whole forms, like bulk nuts and other fresh ingredients that I make into something with my own hands. However, avoiding the topic couldn’t last forever. I decided to organize my own thoughts on the high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) debate.
What is sugar?
Before we can attack HFCS, let’s think for a minute about what sugar is and what it does to our bodies. First of all, sugar as we know it today generally translates to beet sugar or sugarcane. The key to the definition is that these food sugars are monosaccharides (simple carbohydrates) such as glucose and fructose. Simple carbohydrates chemically break down quickly for sudden energy release from the split bonds. Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, are known to be more complicated to break down and therefore release energy more slowly but steadily. Sucrose is a disaccharide, with one glucose linked to one fructose. Sugars are carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen based.
Sugar in America.
Sugar has a bad association in America with diabetes, obesity, and other health problems. We’ve been consuming sugar globally for hundreds of years and, in some cultures, for thousands of years, but the consumption rates in America have skyrocketed. This article demonstrates the drastic increase of sugar consumption per person per year in America over the last two centuries. Most data indicates a steep rise in American sugar consumption with the closure of the Civil War with two dramatic drops at the time of the World Wars. Some studies have predicted that, based on the current trend line in consumption data, Americans will be consuming essentially ‘100% sugar’ by the year 2606 (based on a 95% goodness of fit and an assumed average caloric intake). And while Americans are told they should be consuming no more than 100 to 150 calories per day of added sugar, they may not realize this includes sugar naturally found in food products. For example, dairy products have lactose. Fruits are actually very high in the sugar fructose. Yet, while obesity continues to rise, it may not actually be sugar consumption that is to blame. Studies find a more intense correlation between lifestyles and weight gain. It is likely that sugar, high in calories and added to the vast majority of American foods, has a way of bloating one’s calorie count without much detection. I guess the argument can be made that it’s in everything, so we eat it in place of healthier alternatives, and so we get fat. But we don’t have to buy the sugary stuff! We do because we crave it. No one made you buy that candy or that dessert or even that stew that had nearly undetectable added sugar – it’s just what your tastes are accustomed to! Because we actively partake in activities that maintain a sugary demand in our country. Sugar doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but we have diverged from the evolved eating habits of our prehistoric ancestors. Besides, anything is bad in excess.
What is high-fructose corn syrup?
HFCS is, chemically-speaking, essentially the same product as table sugar. The difference is the glucose and the fructose in HFCS is unbounded, whereas it’s bonded in regular sugar. Sugar can only be grown in the more tropical climates, thus its production is highly limited in the US and its tariffs for importing are high. HFCS, on the other hand, is extremely cheap, very obtainable in a corn-dominated country, and highly soluble. So what’s everyone complaining about?
Debunking accusations agains HFCS.
There are a number of studies that show HFCS is no more obesity-causing than regular sugar, but none of them deny that Americans eat too much sugar. That’s the main source of the issue. But people tend to blame companies for slipping HFCS (the cheap alternative to sugar) in everything to make the products taste better. That means they sell more for less investment. But does that mean using sugar instead would change anything? The price. Our tastes? No. Our sugar cravings? No. Therefore our obesity problem? Probably not, unless some actual lifestyle changes were made. So what other arguments are out there? Well, there’s the one about the creation of HFCS being synthetic and artificial and therefore bad. Well isn’t anything we make or do technically unnatural? What is baking bread or scrambling an egg? It’s just inducing chemical reactions. I used to be opposed to “chemicals” until my friend pointed out that everything is a chemical. And because the two kinds of sweeteners are chemical twins, what is the problem? Another argument is that our brains being unable to register HFCS as sweet and therefore we consume more than we would of sugar. In this article, a study is reviewed about the hypothalamus in the brain which detects consumption, calories, and other levels and which would be responsible for detecting sweeteners. The study concluded that glucose and fructose do affect the brain differently, but that the boundedness or unboundedness does not have a proven affect on how they do this. While reading this article, I couldn’t help but notice the author’s reference to carbonyls like they were some obvious health threat. Carbonyls are a type of carbon monoxide ligand; ligands are directly connected to receptors in the body. Some ligands are antagonists that block receptors. Metal carbonyls are notorious for their toxicity and ability to block important oxygen bondings. The carbonyls found in HFCS have a bad rap simply because a connection is believed to exist between the carbonyls present and diabetes. That doesn’t necessarily mean obesity, now does it? But what I find even more interesting (and explained extremely thoroughly in this article) is that these carbonyls and this unbounded property of HFCS doesn’t mean anything, as far as sodas are concerned. The carbonation in soda in fact hydrolyzes up to about 90% of the bounded sugars so that they are now unbounded and, quite frankly, now identical to HFCS before you’ve even opened the can.
HFCS is overdramatized without people fully understanding the facts first. There is also not enough conclusions about the topic, especially considering the amount of conflicting data from animal studies, etc., that currently exists. Maybe non-carbonated products are worse in HFCS than in regular sugar, but I simply don’t know and not enough long-term data exists yet on the health effects. I do, however, stand by the fact that we consume too much of whatever you want to call it (any combination of fructose, glucose, sucrose, lactose,…) and that Americans need to become more active. That is the problem leading to the obesity epidemic: CALORIE CONSUMPTION >> CALORIE EXPENDITURE.
I believe in animal rights, albeit I despise groups like PETA that blow small truths out of proportion and generalize entire industries. I feel like PETA takes it about twenty steps too far. However, I can’t help but to acknowledge some of the points the activists make and some of the faults they do manage to uncover.
It’s May, and so the hot topic has been Derby Day. I was never a fan of Derby Day because I associated it with cruelty towards horses, thanks to my mom’s standpoint growing up. But my friend challenged my opinions on derby racing when I came to Cleveland. We were getting gelato in Little Italy a couple Kentucky Derby’s ago and I was appalled by the gaggles of city people lined up to watch a 2-minute race around a track. I grew up with horses. My first job was in the stables. My mom rides western with me and paid for dressage lessons when I was younger. I understand the deep relationship one builds with a horse and how one should respect these beasts, all their power, and realize how much work it takes to care after one. Sitting in that room with those Clevelanders, I knew none of them knew the first thing about horses. How could city people care so much about a dumb race? I’d never seen people at home pay attention at the bar when the screen was on. I remember sitting in Sharky’s one year and everyone was more fascinated by the Pirates and Orioles baseball recaps. And is my mom right about the cruelty that those animals undergo? I decided to look into it further.
One of my good friends from home actually owns an eighth of a race horse. Yet her family doesn’t care about the races, just about the bets and the money it brings in. I decided first to search about what makes the Derby so exciting and if anyone else feels the same sort of animosity towards it as I do. I came across a post on Angelfire called “The Kentucky Derby Really is Decadent and Depraved”. I feel like the author makes some good points. For example, a quote on what makes it so popular:
“I despise the Derby for the same reason I despise 21st Century R&B and 2001: A Space Odyssey. They thrive by circulating so much hype around nearly non-existent substance until the hype becomes the substance. Of course what I call “hype,” Derby fans call “tradition. … Let’s not forget that all this tradition comes from the Deep South. Yup, from the countryside that brought you cotton plantations, the Confederacy, country music, and grits comes little men riding big horses in a circle for less than two minutes. Sell hot dogs in the stands and whiskey at the bar and you can garner enough fat alcoholics with no real lot in life to become obsessed with it. Instant tradition.”
This would explain why so many Clevelanders seem hooked at the bars and over social media. They don’t care about the actual event, it’s just about the bets, the celebrities, the stupid meaningless stuff – and the hype. To confirm this opinion, I read a few blogs and recaps from Derby parties. Nearly every single commentary was the same. People might add a comment like “Those hoses are so pretty and strong!”, but mostly it was blathering on about mint juleps, overdone outfits, and southern tradition. PAH-LEASE. Even PETA recognizes this. I love the introduction from the PETA Files, which sums up my sentiments perfectly:
“There is a certain kind of person, it seems, who enjoys dressing up like a deranged escapee from some historical theme park and swilling mint juleps just to watch horses run around a dirt track for a couple of minutes.”
So, with the mystery of the hype solved enough for my satisfaction, I now began to wonder if my mom was ever out of line for finding horse racing cruel towards animals. I asked her last week if she thinks PETA over exaggerates. She agrees they do, but that they have some truths that shouldn’t be ignored. Maybe some animal cruelty situations are localized, but the point is they still exist and that horse racing still supports it. Searching some more, I found another person sharing bitter feelings about a party she attended in Maine with people who knew nothing about the race but supported the hype and didn’t blink once at the thought of what happens to the losing horses after the race. She describes this night in “Why I Hate the Kentucky Derby”, where her date casually informed her that the losers from the race she watched would be sent to slaughter for the meat industry. She even recaps the life of the horse who won that day, Real Quiet, and mourns his death as not a steak but as a tired breeding stallion whose genes were used to continue the age-old tradition. I was still skeptical of tales of stun guns and horse meat until I watched some videos of horses being stunned and of trucks driving hours on end to take horses across the border. Furthermore, the disappointed date provided an article from William C. Rhoden of the New York Times which seems legitimate enough for me:
“The most significant source of racehorse deaths is the slaughter industry, one driven by overbreeding and demand from the lucrative global meat market. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, more than 100,000 American horses are slaughtered each year in Canada and Mexico to satisfy horse meat markets in Europe and Asia.
Breeding operations produce thousands of so-called surplus thoroughbreds. What happens to the excess, the often anonymous horses? Some are sold to owners who take them overseas. Some wind up racing in Japan. Some wind up in slaughterhouses.”
PETA claims 80% of people are opposed to horse slaughter in the US, yet it evidently continues to happen. PETA also reads of endless statistics about horse breeding, horse deaths, poor animal treatment, and all of those things I don’t have to bore you with. My main point – which I think I’ve made – is that Derby Day is a loathsome event, yet so many people blindly worship. I find it pathetic. I believe in knowing what I support and, if these sheep weren’t so ignorant, I should hope they wouldn’t support it as well. Alas, ignorance and stubbornness, the leading follies of humankind.
So all you Team Derby people out there, have fun dressing up, choking on mint juleps, and pretending to be southern for a day while you lose your money along with the life of your bet horse.
Earth Day was created in 1970 to increase environmental awareness and spark interest in the population to heal the world’s health problems. It is one of my least favorite celebrations because I believe it is ineffective and almost counterproductive.
Picture on my run in Cleveland this weekend.
To me, every day is Earth Day. Every choice I make has been done with preconceived intention and consequence. I operate on a level of mutual respect for my surroundings and nature. I ethically cannot violate this respect; thus I have no need for a celebratory day with events within driving distance or farther for me to demonstrate my good intentions. Each breath I take resonates my purpose.
I do not doubt that Earth Day had held its significance in environmental education; but with the turning of the tide in this new ages Green Revolution, dedicating a sole day to volunteering, clean-up, environmental education, and vegan potlucks seem to miss the point and enable us to accept this “holiday” as our only “work day”. The same things demonstrated on Earth Day should, in reality, be incorporated in every intention of our daily lives and in every classroom within the American education system. Instead, we drive ourselves to an Earth Day event, commit a few lazy hours to picking up litter (which is more of an aesthetic concern than environmental), and then indulge in bowls of food that 9 times out of 10 contain imported, genetically modified, or otherwise unnatural ingredients somewhere within the depths of the dish. Then April 23rd comes around and it’s back to factory beef, taking out the trash, and watching sports on our televisions.
Earth Day should be more of a day of reflexion. “Look how far we have come since last Earth Day” with numbers ensuing for proof. Rather, local events I see for Earth Day fail to carry this message. The unprecedented result has thus been to instill in the minds of the youth that today we remember the planet, and then tomorrow they will remember their video games. In dedicating one day of the year to our cause, we have dedicated 364 to 365 of the off-days to ordinary lifestyles. This doesn’t mean we should make the Anti-Earth Day and dedicate one day to slacking…or should we? Talk about reverse psychology.
So, rather than ask what you will be doing for Earth Day, what will you be doing 6 months from now for your planet? What about every other day in between?
I don’t pay for television, so I have to read (*gasp*) to learn current news. By current news, I mean at least what the media thinks is important…lawlz. So today I opened up a website and started scanning headlines. Obama, shootings, Obama… Okay, how about the Cleveland tab? What are people reading about here? “Twinkies Won’t Be Back in Time for 4/20”… (pauses)… Let’s think this over. 1) This is in the top headlines, and it’s about Twinkies. 2) I thought Twinkies were dead… which was a pathetic scene as people paid exuberant amounts of money for what few heart attacks remained. Curse you, modern America… 3) 4/20? Really? How can that even be published? It seems so unnecessary…
Bored and disappointed, I decided to continue my search on 2013 fashion trends. I skipped over articles about shootings, political movements, or anything that might affect National Security, and immediately honed in on the important stuff: Spring 2013 Trend Reports by style.com. I might be wearing Emerald, but what if I’m doing it wrong?? I’ve got to consult the fashion gods on this, to save my soul from La Mode Faux Pas Hell. Fortunately, style.com is on top of its game. As long as I write the following notes on the inside cover of a copy of the Bible or the Torah or whatever, I’ll be good until at least Summer 2013…
1. “THE ART OF CONTRAST”
I don’t know about you, but when I see a woman walk in with a dark shade and a light shade in one outfit, I go, “Dammnnn does she know how to contrast! She clearly follows fashion trends by the season!” Which is why, when I googled “fashion trends contrast 2013”, I got results. Just like when I googled “fashion trends contrast 2012”. And “fashion trends contrast 2011”. And… well, how else is a person to dress? Wear all of the same colors? Or do you mean I’m really expected to show up dressed like this:
2. “VEILED LOOKS”
When I think of “veiled”, I think of a bride, of virginity, of beauty in modesty like veiled Middle Eastern women… HELL, NO. This look has been created for the mere purpose of testing a male designer’s ability to “peek-a-boo” every damn part of a woman’s body! The pieces of fabric that aren’t sheer are teasing the audience’s eyes and daring you to watch long enough for that top to slip sideways just a little. If I wanted a shirt that showed off my underwear, I would save the money, not buy the shirt, and just walk around in my underwear. At least it would be more honest.
3. “COLLAGE DEGREE”
I don’t mean to sound like a horrible person…but sometimes I wonder if the people who get into this industry – or at least who dote on it – would really spell “college” like that. I’m an artist as hobby, but I am always skeptical about those who make a career out of fashion snobbery. Seeing this “collage” trend makes me chuckle a little inside. I just got back from Africa where I had some beautiful fabrics thrown into tailored dresses in a matter of hours, for little money and at a much higher quality than anything you’ll find in Target. The couturiers of West Africa are incredibly skillful at cutting fabrics to make patterns wrap a person’s body in a conservative dress. They recycle scraps to line the dresses, adding to the quality. Turn the dresses inside-out, and you’ll find a clash of colors and patterns similar to this new “trend”:
4. “EVERY FLOUNCE COUNTS”
Flamenco-style ruffles…I thought designers were supposed to think of new ideas? And while I do like Isabel Marant’s Look 36, I can’t help but wonder if the Victorian era is making a comeback…just, instead of showing some scandalous ankle, now women find it perfectly acceptable to wear skin-tight skirts that show their thongs.
5. “ALPHA FEMALES”
*inserts yet another chuckle* I laugh because, when I first started looking at these trends, I legitimately though half of the models were men. Between the lack of womanly curves, outlandishly tall statures, cropped hair, harsh makeup, flat chests, and unflattering cuts… I had no idea what I was looking at. If you are a woman and you have a job, this look is absolute baloney. It’s basically looking professional without having to wear a dress. Except the runway makes it particularly creepy, and, oh, yeah, shirts are apparently not required. I guess this look accompanies the equally creepy “alpha male” look that is trending in the male side of fashion…which I guess exists.
6. “ASIA SOCIETY”
The final look (and they’ve been such show-stoppers!) is a “Far East” trend. I’m pretty sure this just means “adulterated kimonos” because, if destroying Victorian culture and business casual wear isn’t enough, we can start making low-cut saris and transparent burkas as well.
Well, you’re welcome for me keeping you informed. Bypass all those headlines and go straight to some over-priced, designer store and stock up immediately! Perhaps down-size your wardrobe by combining these looks, then wear it every day and you’ll never be out of style (until Summer 2013)! Try making a collage of contrasting veils, combining it into a kimono with a cropped bottom and collar with ruffles… and you’re good to go! Ay, carumba… Sometimes taking the time to write these sorts of entries shames me!
Photos from styleblazer.com, shefinds.com, trendwire.com, lyst.com, creeate.blogspot.com, and accessoriesmagazine.com, respectively as they appear embedded in this post.
(Pinterest) Emerald, Peacock, whatever…
I know you have all been holding your breath… but it’s old news now. Of course you’ve heard. Pantone has declared Emerald 17-5641 as the Color of the Year for 2013. (Don’t mess up the numbers! You wouldn’t want to have the wrong shade of Emerald Green! The Wizard of Oz might come after you if you offend him…)
So I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a “Color of the Year” until I walked into Beachwood Mall yesterday and saw it plastered all over the makeup advertisements. I guess I don’t use makeup as a crutch, so I wouldn’t know. Pardon my cynicism, but this whole thing truly irks me. I don’t post on this blog often, but I’m sure you might guess by now (if you follow) that I’m not exactly partial to the fashion industry. In other words, I think it’s a crock of baloney. I’m a naturalist… since when does the planet become controlled by the fashion industry? By a silly human past-time in a world of creatures with more glamor in their natural decor than we could ever replicate without wearing their very furs themselves?
Who the hell is Pantone anyway? Oh, a printing company. That makes sense. I remember reading on some prehistoric stone plaques defining the creation of this planet that Pantone was declared the ambassador of artificial color trends for each human-observed cycle of that big Sun star around our little rock. Naturally, I panicked and stocked my closet full of the color. I couldn’t imagine looking out of style!!!
No, but really… the shit was on sale, and green is one of my favorite colors. H&M and CVS stocked me as far as I plan to stock:
Don’t forget your ruby slippers! Pretty sure that’s a requirement this year as well.
One thing that pisses me off about, well, every day life is our obsession with this bizarre enigma we refer to as “fashion”. Being “fashionable” or “well-dressed” is an important part to any publicly active and successful being, at least in America and other First World countries. We are so caught up in appearances and aesthetics in literally every perspective of life that it completely consumes us. The feeling of social security we get from meeting self-imposed visual standards becomes the lifeblood to maintaining our self-esteem. One faltering moment and our confidence is undermined. But how did we ever come to rely on such meaningless concepts as “fashion”? And who became the judge of it anyway?