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Monday, October 16, 2006

Nutalie wants to know how high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is made. University of Iowa's Professor Johnson explains it in (guess where) The Omnivore's Dilemma. The corn is soaked in water containing sulphur dioxide. The swollen kernels are ground in a mill. At this step, the germ (containing all the vitamins) is removed, dried, and then squeezed for corn oil, bottled straight or hydrogenated into margarine. The ground kernels are filtered, and gluten is extracted for use in animal feed.
The rest of the corn becomes cornstarch, then acid is added to break it down into glucose. The glucose can be transformed by enzymes into fructose. HFCS is a blend of 55% fructose and 45% glucose, which tastes exactly as sweet as sucrose.

Some of the cornstarch is sold as is, most becomes HFCS, and some is modified to become adhesives, coatings, plastics, thickeners, gels, and "viscosity control agents" for food. Another portion becomes maltodextrin and maltose. A full tenth of the US corn crop becomes ethanol for fuel. To make every calorie of food processed from corn, 10 calories of fossil fuel energy must be burned.

Who eats all the sugars, starches, and food additives? The industrial eater, a "supremely adapted creature: the eater of processed food." Turning cheap corn into complex food systems makes people spend more $ for the same number of calories, making the food processor rich, but not the farmer.

Be careful what you ask for, Nutalie!


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