In cooking, the process of clarification entails straining out extraneous muck from liquids so that they might be pure, clear and ideal for consumption. With this series on food terminology we're attempting to do the same. No politics - just the facts about what the words mean.
There's major debate swirling about the allegedly adverse effects that high fructose corn syrup may having on Americans' diets. Opponents say it's a big factor in the US population's increasing levels of obesity. Advocates claim that it's just a natural, corn-based sweetener, and that it's being unfairly maligned.
But what exactly is it, and how is it made?
Editor's note: all week, CNN Newsroom, Rick's List and Eatocracy are teaming up to take a look the effects our dining choices have on our minds, bodies and wallets. Tune into CNN Newsroom daily from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET for on-air coverage and join in the discussion here on Eatocracy. ALL COVERAGE
Wondering what the heck HFCS actually IS and how it's made? WE EXPLAIN
Last week, the Corn Refiners Association announced that it petitioned the FDA for permission to change the name of high fructose corn syrup to "corn sugar." Just a few years ago, in the era of "sugar-free Snackwells," and other similarly marketed foods, such an idea would have been unthinkable. But after a few decades of being among the most vilified substances in the supermarket, "sugar" - meaning sucrose, the old-fashioned white stuff made from cane and beets - is back.
Big food companies are actually bragging that they're using it again, slapping the words "real sugar" on ads and product labels. Meanwhile, sugar is no better for you than it was before, which is to say, terrible, whether it comes in the form of cane crystals or corn squeezin's.
Read the full story from FORTUNE on CNN Money
Yesterday's New York Times report on the Corn Refiners Association petition to United States Food and Drug Administration to start labeling the embattled ingredient high-fructose corn syrup as "corn sugar" had Team Eatocracy rolling our eyes so hard they practically popped out and skidded across the floor.
As we've previously reported, a study from Princeton University that suggests high-fructose corn syrup causes more significant weight gain than table sugar and a UCLA study suggests that cancer cells feed off fructose at a higher rate than regular sugar.
Yes, these findings are preliminary and there's still plenty of research to be done, but we personally seek to avoid the stuff as much as possible. Sure, it's a health thing, but frankly, we think it tastes kinda nasty.
And of course, we're making jokes about other names the Corn Refiners Association might have gone with - "The Sweetener Formerly Known as HFCS," "FatMax," etc. Share your suggestions in the comments below, but first: