The Friday Report – It just gets sweeter
January 28, 2010
You know your writing career has hit some sort of zenith when the most feedback you ever got was from a column about the Wizmark Interactive Urinal Communicator.
Dr. Richard Deutsch, inventor and manufacturer of these chatty urinal cakes, wrote and asked me how I could possibly make fun of his brainchild and its important safety message, as well as how I thought he could better spread the word about his anti-alcohol, message-spouting invention.
I wrote back to him, “But … Doc, don’t these things speak for themselves?”
Last week, I apparently raised the ire of every farmer in the Corn Belt by mentioning that some scientists feel a diet of fructose, transmogrified out of corn, has been associated with a litany of ailments from rough, dry skin, to brain tumors
Audrae Erickson, President of the Corn Refiners Association out of Washington, D.C., blasted me hours after last week’s column came out as an obvious ignorant buffoon, saying:
“We read the January 22 Friday Report “Children of the corn,” with interest. There has been a lot of confusion about high fructose corn syrup. We would like to provide you with science-based information on this safe sweetener and be a reference for you for future articles.”
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She then went on for another 500 words citing the glorious abundance of scientific studies extolling the virtues of HFCS and proving (to me) beyond the shadow of a doubt that the price of sugar is kept artificially high through exorbitant corn subsidies and high border tariffs on otherwise cheap, imported sugar.
By the end of October, every year the Secretary of Agriculture gets to set the quota for imported sugar. All imported sugar carries a tariff of 0.625 cents per pound; not a huge burden, you say, but try paying that on 1.2 million metric tons, then see how you feel about it.
Refined sugar above the quota is also welcome but it carries a whopping 16.21 cents per pound tariff. Raise the price of sugar? Just lower the quota.
The United States is one of the very few countries that uses HFCS, a complicated process that tortures corn into a sweetener more expensive than sugar, then manipulates the price of sugar to force the corn product on us. Add to that, the insult of a $40 billion subsidy over the last 15 years to Archer Daniels Midland and other agribusiness conglomerates in some sort of weird “corporate welfare.”
It becomes no wonder that Coke, Pepsi and nearly every beverage maker in America switched to HCFS in the mid-1980s for the sole reason that sugar became more expensive.
We could be using cheaper, and some argue safer, sugar in our diets like nearly every other country in the world, but for the earnest efforts of shills like Audrae who sift the news so fine as to find my little column perched out here on top of the Rockies and reach out to spank me for praising (real) sugared soft drinks.
Audrae even left me her number, (202) 331-1634, so I could call her and check my facts before shooting my mouth off and spreading malicious, wormy, lies about Hi-Fructose Corn Syrup.
Before I could even digest her message, Willard, my pet rat, was furiously two-pawed texting Audrae, begging for a self-directed tour of a corn refinery, his idea of finding 72 virgins without blowing his fool self up.