Whoa, did the corn industry get to Michael Pollan? The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that he said there may be nothing "intrinsically wrong" with high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which at first blush looks like a 180-degree shift from his previous position.
"I've done a lot to demonize it," he says. "And people took away the message that there was something intrinsically wrong with it. A lot of research says this isn't the case. But there is a problem with how much total sugar we consume."
While there is evidence (though controversial) that HFCS may be worse than sugar, most scientists believe that it's not uniquely terrible in and of itself. The main problem with the industrial sweetener is that we consume so damn much of it. It's the most widespread sweetener in the U.S., and we should steer away from added sweeteners of any kind. Pollan himself noted that the HFCS backlash has led people to seek out cane sugar. "Not HFCS" doesn't mean "good for you": "It shows the brilliance of the industry, which is always a couple of steps ahead of me," Pollan says. "They started giving products made of real sugar health claims and [are] trying to make sugar look good."
The demonizing of HFCS also detracts from Pollan's main message, which is about having a moderate and balanced gastronomic life, not about making lists of forbidden foods:
Mainly, he says, beware of products with labels that brag about the inclusion or exclusion of "good for you" or "evil" ingredients.
Get back to the main message, also known as the "Eater's Manifesto": We should eat real food, perhaps in lesser amounts than we're used to, and mostly plants.