If you use cereal bars as a quick snack (as I often do), you might be concerned about the ingredients (high fructose corn syrup) and maybe even interested in making your own.
I tried this a couple of years ago and ended up with some rather dry fare. I learned that I didn't use a binder. A binder is exatly what it sounds like--a sticky substance used to tie grains and nuts together. Maybe I'll take these tips and try again. What have been your experiences with trying to make healthier food?
This article on the murky and industrialized world of high fructose corn syrup walks readers through a psychotically complex process that takes corn and turns it into sweetened gel (or fat Americans or poison, however you'd prefer to describe it).
"HFCS has the exact same sweetness and taste as an equal amount of sucrose from cane or beet sugar but it is obviously much more complicated to make, involving vats of murky fermenting liquid, fungus and chemical tweaking, all of which take place in one of 16 chemical plants located in the Corn Belt. Yet in spite of all the special enzymes required, HFCS is actually cheaper than sugar. It is also very easy to transport--it's just piped into tanker trucks. This translates into lower costs and higher profits for food producers"
Here are some other facts to consider--
HFCS consumption is up:
HCFS "... has become a popular topic in the discussion of obesity in America. The reason for this is that HFCS comsumption has increased dramatically since the 1970s when it was developed and so has obesity. It has not been proven that there is a link, but the average American consumed 39 pounds of HFCS in 1980 and 62.6 pounds in 2001"
HFCS doesn't trigger an insulin reaction:
"If you are an optimist, you are happy that fructose - unlike glucose - does not stimulate the release of insulin, and in small amounts can be a useful sweetener for people with diabetes.
If you are a pessimist, you will fret that fructose is preferentially metabolized to fat, raising the possibility that HFCS - or any other source of fructose (but we won't worry about fruit) - could have something to do with current obesity trends.
HFCS entered our food supply in the mid 1960s, but did not really come into its own until farm subsidies encouraged farmers to grow as much corn as possible. In 1981, at the dawn of the obesity era, the United States food supply provided 23 pounds of HFCS per person per year, along with 79 pounds of sucrose - 102 pounds total.
Today, the balance is 56 to 62 (118 pounds), with the increase entirely due to HFCS. Guilt by association! Glucose corn syrups and honey add up to yet another 18 pounds, but their use has not changed much over time. All told, the food supply provides a third of a pound a day of HFCS and sucrose combined, which works out to about 600 calories a day per person, just from these two sources."
HFCS may accelerate aging, boost hormones and more:
"Fructose interacts with oral contraceptives and elevates insulin levels in women on "the pill."
In studies with rats, fructose consistently produces higher kidney calcium concentrations than glucose. Fructose generally induces greater urinary concentrations of phosphorus and magnesium and lowered urinary pH compared with glucose.
In humans, fructose feeding leads to mineral losses, especially higher fecal excretions of iron and magnesium, than did subjects fed sucrose. Iron, magnesium, calcium, and zinc balances tended to be more negative during the fructose-feeding period as compared to balances during the sucrose-feeding period.
There is significant evidence that high sucrose diets may alter intracellular metabolism, which in turn facilitates accelerated aging through oxidative damage. Scientists found that the rats given fructose had more undesirable cross-linking changes in the collagen of their skin than in the other groups. These changes are also thought to be markers for aging. The scientists say that it is the fructose molecule in the sucrose, not the glucose, that plays the larger part.20
Because it is metabolized by the liver, fructose does not cause the pancreas to release insulin the way it normally does. Fructose converts to fat more than any other sugar. This may be one of the reasons Americans continue to get fatter. Fructose raises serum triglycerides significantly. As a left-handed sugar, fructose digestion is very low. For complete internal conversion of fructose into glucose and acetates, it must rob ATP energy stores from the liver."
My wife and I chose our home in Norwood because more than two dozen of our friends live within a couple of blocks of our house. Camaraderie, to me, makes for a good quality of life in a neighborhood. It’s a friendly place and people frequently greet each other on the street.
Norwood also has its share of problems. Parts of the city are very nice, but in others, the effects of domestic violence, drug addiction, alcoholism and family breakdown are readily visible on its streets. It’s a far different place than Mariemont, which was recently voted one of the nation’s ten best neighborhoods by the American Planning Association.
From the Cincinnati Enquirer:
The association, which promotes good planning, announced its top 10 neighborhood list Wednesday. The 10 Great Neighborhoods list is part of the association's Great Places in America program, which singles out communities with exceptional character that were shaped by intelligent planning.
The association didn't rank the 10 neighborhoods.
Since Cincinnati philanthropist Mary Emery founded Mariemont, the village has been regarded as a paragon of planning and design. "Given the critical need for all of our cities and neighborhoods to reduce carbon emissions because of climate change, Mariemont provides us with a timely model of how to plan, build and adapt places for compactness, walkability and sustainability," said Paul Farmer, the American Planning Association's executive director.
I have no idea how friendly Mariemont residents are, so I won’t try to compare it with Norwood in that way, but there are some objective facts to consider.
- Norwood has a Kroger store, a viable retail strip and restaurants at its center, within walking distance of most residents. Mariemont’s nearest grocery store is of a mile east of the town square, more than a mile from residents on the west side of Mariemont. Mariemont’s central square is limited to entertainment and dining.
- Norwood is mixed income, including poor, Appalachian and Mexican residents, middle and working class folks and high-income residents.
What really makes a great neighborhood? Is it a resort styled community or one in which we can really live, work and engage with people from a variety of backgrounds?