Maybe it’s not the tuna, maybe it’s the HFCS (ooops, I meant “corn sugar”)

I think it’s worth taking a fresh look at the issue of mercury contaminating some of the high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) we process in this country, because it reflects on so many different threads running through our collective consciousness.

Here’s the article; it draws its content from a study by the very respectable Environmental Working Group in 2008. Their research scientists found that just about 45 percent of the foods containing HFCS that they sampled were contaminated with mercury. These are mainstream foods, not obscure imports from some dubious source. And 45 percent is a LOT of contamination.

According to the research, the contamination came from the four mercury-cell plants in the U.S. which produce high-fructose corn syrup for food processors (from GMO corn, of course, which is another whole wrinkle we’re not going to iron out here). There are other ways to get syrup out of starchy corn that don’t involve mercury cells, but there seems to have been enough of the sweet stuff made at these four plants that it ended up in a whole slew of standard issue grocery items.

By the way, I’ll take this opportunity to put in a plug for the documentary King Korn, a film that manages to be incredibly funny, informative, and disturbing by turns (link shows a trailer). You’ll learn all about how that formerly innocuous plant called “dent corn” (because the individual kernels have a little dent in the end) is currently grown, sold, processed, and consumed. It’s available in all the usual places to get DVDs, so just get it and watch it. You won’t regret it, I promise!

My point here is that it would seem that there are other potential sources of mercury in our diets, beyond large deep-sea fish (read my recent blog post about fish and mercury, if you’d like more information on the topic). And we just don’t hear about them all that much. So while we as a nation assiduously avoid tuna sandwiches, we happily chow down on corn chips and snack cakes and wash them down with soda, not knowing whether we’re eating products from the contaminated half or the clean half, mercury-wise.

And my strong suggestion to you, both to avoid mercury and to better support your overall health, is to simply avoid the processed foods likely to contain HFCS in the first place. Believe me, they almost surely have other questionable ingredients in addition to the HFCS. There are so many other things to eat, and better tasting, too! (Which I’ll be discussing in posts to come, you can be sure.)

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