High Fructose Corn Syrup: How Ironic

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS): It’s that name that we’ve all known to come to dread, yet can’t avoid. Think about it, it’s everywhere. And by everywhere, I mean everywhere. The Huffington Post reports that it’s found in foods such as mac and cheese, frozen izza, Planters Peanuts, among the common suspects of soda and candy.

Although it is highly disputed as to whether or not HFCS is actually any worse than sugar (The recent debate is over a Princeton Study that concluded that it makes rats fat. There are plenty of articles critiquing the design of the study though) I think that it cannot be contested that Americans have been consuming more sugar due to it. Given its cheaper price, food producers are able to pack more sugar into their products for less of a cost.

What’s more though, is that the reason HFCS is cheap is not because it’s just more abundant or easier to produce, but because its subsidized. New York Magazine reports: 

It is made from American corn rather than imported cane, and it is inexpensive, at about 30 cents a pound wholesale. (A pound is enough to make about eleven cans of Coca-Cola.) Mind you, it’s not really cheaper than cane sugar: Federal farm subsidies, amounting to about $20 billion per year, are twinned with a sugar tariff to stack that deck in favor of HFCS. In a free market, the bottom would fall out of corn prices, and the Midwest’s economy would start to look like Greece’s.

And, these subsidies don’t go to your picturesque family farms, but large corporate farms that do not need the extra money.

Some of us might not even mind subsidizing wholesome family farms in hard times, but most of the money heads straight to megacorporations like Archer Daniels Midland, in an egregious bit of corporate welfare. (Kansans who vote hard-line Republican and howl about federal spending tend to go quiet and look at their shoes when you mention this.) ADM makes HFCS by the megaton, and the Cato Institute has figured that every $1 of profit ADM earns in this business costs consumers $10

So what does this all mean? We are paying taxes to make soda cheaper, yet spending all of this effort and money to combat obesity> Ironic, huh?


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