Friday, October 23, 2009

Sweet Surprise Not So Sweet

While reading a copy of Scholastic Parent & Child magazine yesterday, I came across THIS ad defending High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).  The ad labeled Dry Cleaner was the one in the magazine.  Go ahead and open that up - it will pop up in a new window.  You might want to see the ad to understand where I'm coming from. 

I have to tell you that it gets under my skin a little lot.

First of all, I take great offense in that the ad seems to poke fun and assume that as a consumer, I might not be educated enough about what foods to feed my family and that if my advice about food is not coming from my doctor then it is not good advice.   I take a great deal of advice from our doctors.  They are smart people and I trust them.   But I also find value in the advice of trusted friends or people that I do business with like my hairdresser or dry cleaner.  Many of them spend a great deal of time researching what is good to feed their families and they actually see a difference in the health and behavior of their kids by eliminating certain ingredients found in processed foods.  You don't have to be a doctor to know what is healthy for you and your family.  Granted, there is a lot of information out there to sift through which leads me to my second point.

Let's say you are a parent trying to figure out what is good for your kids and you are reading the free magazine that comes home from school with your child.  A magazine that is published by a trusted source such as Scholastic and you see this ad in the Health & Wellness section.    In my opinion,  it sends biased message that says it's okay to feed your child processed sugar.  As a matter of fact, if you go to the website, it will also lead you to believe that a parent should be more interested in caloric intake than the individual ingredients found in our foods.   Yes, I think we should be interested in caloric intake - definitely.  But let's say that I make a granola bar from scratch with honey or an unrefined form of form sugar such as sucanat.   Let's compare it to a granola bar bought in a box with HFCS and other preservatives.   My homemade granola bar may end up having more calories than the one out of the box but mine is also filled with ingredients that are whole, unrefined and assimilated by the body in a healthier way.   In other words, the body uses more energy to process (burns fat) my homemade granola bar and takes from it the natural vitamins that it needs.  Therefore, my higher calorie homemade granola bar is actually a better choice for my kids.     Or take the apple that is full of natural sugar but also fiber and vitamins.  It has lots of calories but it is a much better choice than a few graham crackers with the same amount of calories coming mostly from the processed sugar in them.  And you know what?  I didn't learn that from my doctor. 

When I talk about this ad being a biased message, I am saying this because it is part of a campaign defending High Fructose Corn Syrup sponsored by the Corn Refiners Association.   Do you think that they might have any interest in how the public perceives their product? 

They compare it to regular table sugar - yeah, I'll give them this.  It may not be any worse.   And yes, we should all be watching our sugar intake in all forms.   That is the one positive message coming from this campaign.  We should be eating sugar in moderation. Well, that could be said for all food actually - moderation is the key.  Our portion sizes are huge in this country and has no doubt contributed to the obesity epidemic we face. 

And another thing I saw on the website is the add that says this is a "Schmear" campaign.   By whom?  Moms?   The general public?  Really?

Okay, so what are your thoughts on this?  I'd love to know.  Maybe there is something I am not seeing or getting.   Or maybe you agree with me and have some more points to add to the discussion.

So, let's discuss.

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Tania said...

I am so glad to see I am not the only one offended by this ad campaign. I believe it was put out there by corn growers since this is a source of income for them but I could be wrong. There is a new book out that you might be interested in. It The Omnivore's Dilemma for Kids: The Secrets Behind What You Eat. I cannot wait to get my hands on it. Yes, you probably figured out that it was by the same person who did the original book. Hope all is well.

melissa said...

what bothers me about these ads is that the person always asks, "So? Whats wrong with HFCS?" and the other person HAS NO ANSWER! They just look dumb and uneducated.

Stefani said...

I completely agree with you! The other thing that they leave out of their ads is that the corn they use is genetically modified to a point that it is not fit for human consumption if eaten straight off the farm. We watched a documentary not too long ago that opened our eyes to some of the tricks they are using to get us to buy their products no matter how bad they are for us.

Janel@Dandelion Dayz said...

Okay, Tania - I just ordered that book - been wanting to read it myself. Actually there are several by that guy I want to read.

Melissa - Great point! It's a campaign geared to make us feel weird or ignorant. They really do play on the human need to belong and not change, I think.

Stef - Funny you should say that about the genetically modified. I actually had that in my post and deleted it. I just didn't have enough information for a solid thought. But yes so much corn is genetically modified and then they claim not to be artificial - modified food IS artificial, in my book!

sheila Gramling said...

It is clear, in the food department, I am a bad mom. I consider instant oatmeal a great breakfast and chocolate soy milk and cheereos a good breakfast. I am not being sarcastic when I say I think it is awesome that you all put time and brain power into making smart food choices for your children. I am still battling to get a nine and eight year old to eat more than peanut butter and chicken nuggets, and I am not kidding. The amount of good food they eat in a day could fit in a tea spoon. They don't have a lot of access to "junk" food, but they do not eat good food. I am in the process of trying to starve them (for the 100th time)into trying new things. My last starvation routine produced a tolerance (not love, but they don't wretch at the table)of apples and hot dogs. But at this point, it is a losing battle. Any advice would be read gratefully.

Janel@Dandelion Dayz said...

Well, my kids do not eat healthy all the time and they do not always eat what I make them. Although, they are required to try at least a bite of everything. I also bribe them with dessert. ;) I am not above this.

I have a friend who is also a home school mom has a poster of the food pyramid on her fridge. She is teaching her kids about different foods and every choice that they make has to kind of filter through the pyramid. It is really genius. I watched as one of her children asked for a cookie the other day. She asked her to point out where on the pyramid that was and to tell her how much of those types of foods she should have according to the pyramid. Then she asked her if she had had anything else that day from the larger spaces on the food pyramid. The daughter said no. The mom offered to make a sandwich with items from 3 of the larger categories - and after she ate the sandwich she allowed her to have the cookie. No arguing. So, maybe not a lock on your fridge but a food chart on it would help. Let them teach themselves how to make good food choices.

Also, it's a slow process. Starvation seems extreme :) but certainly offering them things that are healthy in lieu of things that are not is a positive move. For me, I just have to limit the amount of junk food in the house. If it is here we will all eat it. I love all kinds of food - healthy and not.

I started to figure out what things were really important to me. Sugar and hydrogenated fats were those two things. I read labels and made other choices when it came to those things. Instead of margarine, I chose real butter. I purchased yogurt without the corn syrup and so on. One choice at a time.

Eventually, the choices became easier and my kids are in on it now. Before they ask if they can have something from the store, they ask, "Does this have trans fats in it? Or, Does it have too much sugar or corn syrup?"

They know now why we eat the food we do and why we do not eat certain foods.

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