Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Green term(s) of the week: mercury and high fructose corn syrup

Environmental Health released a study earlier this week that found that about half of the samples of high fructose corn syrup that they tested contained levels of mercury. Some of those levels were high enough to be concerned about, and those who conducted the study believe it could be a significant source of mercury found in humans that hasn't been considered before. 

Mercury is toxic. It can damage the brain, kidneys and harm developing fetuses. 

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has been linked to obesity and diabetes, and now there is the evidence that mercury can be added to its health detriments. 

For more in depth information on the study and the effects of mercury, you can read my post on MNN, Study: Mercury in high fructose corn syrup

Do you know how many of the foods in your pantry and your refrigerator contain HFCS? I thought I had done a good job purging the majority of it from my kitchen. I knew my pancake syrup had HFCS in it. I've tried to move my family over to real maple syrup, but they have been very resistant. I think they aren't going to have a choice now. But I didn't realize how many of our other foods still had this man made sweetener in them. Take a look at the picture above. Those are the foods that I found with a quick two minute search. I'm sure I didn't find all of them.

The boys looked at the pile as I was taking the picture and new it wasn't good news. A conversation something like this ensued. 

"What's wrong with these foods, mom."

I explained a little bit about the study to them.

"Well, we're not going to get rid of them, right? We're not supposed to waste food." (Don't you love it when your kids throw your rules in your face?)

"No, we'll finish what we've got, but I probably won't buy any of these again."

Utter panic. If you look at the top of the picture, there is a box of Girl Scout Thin Mints. 

"Mom, I've got to say, and I don't care if this gets me in trouble. If you never buy Thin Mints again, you suck............on lollipops."

Okay, how do you respond to a nine-year-old with a devilish grin who just says that to you? I laughed, hugged him, kissed him on top of the head, and swatted him a little extra hard on the butt. I suppose that's how you respond.

And how do you respond to the news that mercury is in HFCS? You stop purchasing those foods made with it (except perhaps the Thin Mints - the HFCS is very low on the list of ingredients, and I think all three of my men will pack up and leave me if I ban the cookies from the house).

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