Thursday, March 5, 2009


I posted the "You Get Your Hair Done by a Doctor?" Sweet Surprise advertisement yesterday, soliciting comments.

Kathy, of Woman to Woman Childbirth Education, commented
"Y'know, I read something recently that said something along the lines of HFCS and sugar being "nearly identical" or "almost chemically identical." Hmm, well, oxytocin and Pitocin are exactly identical... but one crosses into the brain and makes the mother feel good and has benefits for the baby, while the other just makes her uterus contract and slams her baby. So, maybe they're not as "identical" as they thought, hmm? :-)".
I hadn't even thought of that! But I do think it's a very interesting thought, and it does connect the ad with birth... which was what I thought about the first time I saw it. It totally raised my hackles because it shows a woman elevating her doctor as the only credible expert. The way I read the ad, it simultaneously elevates the doctor, puts down the hairdresser, and attempts to make the woman who considered her hairdresser's opinion seem foolish.

I realize that it is no small thing to go through the education and training necessary to become a medical doctor. This eduction, training, and practice should certainly lend weight to a doctor's opinion. However, I also believe that good information is usually available to all intelligent people who take the time to seek and evaluate it. Even if they're "just" hairdressers... or everyday moms... or construction workers etc. & etc. I truly resent the insinuation that the hairdresser has nothing of value to add to the conversation.

Especially because the advertisement was created by Sweet Surprise, according to their website titled "High Fructose Corn Syrup Health and Diet Facts". Facts according to whom?? Facts according to the Corn Refiner's Association, that's who:
"The Corn Refiners Association (CRA) is the national trade association representing the corn refining (wet milling) industry of the United States. CRA and its predecessors have served this important segment of American agribusiness since 1913. Corn refiners manufacture sweeteners, ethanol, starch, bioproducts, corn oil, and feed products from corn components such as starch, oil, protein, and fiber."
Not that they might have a stake in it, or anything...

And those are the thoughts I applied in my head to birth: don't devalue the laywoman who has made it her business to learn about birth, just because she doesn't have a medical degree; and don't underestimate the strength with which people will fight to keep their power, and the dollars that come with it.

In case you were expecting this post to actually be about high fructose corn syrup, here is a sampling of the interesting links I found:

The Murky World of High Fructose Corn Syrup explains the process of making high fructose corn syrup, as well as how the production of high fructose corn syrup fits into the big picture of big farm and food conglomerates:
"The development of the HFCS process came at an opportune time for corn growers. Refinements of the partial hydrogenation process had made it possible to get better shortenings and margarines out of soybeans than corn. HFCS took up the slack as demand for corn oil margarine declined. Lysine, an amino acid, can be produced from the corn residue after the glucose is removed. This is the modus operandi of the food conglomerates--break down commodities into their basic components and then put them back together again as processed food."
Here's what the Mayo Clinic says about HFCS, including that
"research has yielded conflicting results about the effects of high-fructose corn syrup. For example, various early studies showed an association between increased consumption of sweetened beverages (many of which contained high-fructose corn syrup) and obesity. But recent research — some of which is supported by the beverage industry — suggests that high-fructose corn syrup isn't intrinsically less healthy than other sweeteners, nor is it the root cause of obesity."
Maybe you've heard about mercury in high fructose corn syrup? You can read more information on Web MD, including a list of the 17 products that tested positive for mercury.

The Washington Post also reported on mercury and HFCS, in "Study Finds High-Fructose Corn Syrup Contains Mercury." Here is part of that article which I found interesting,
"HFCS has replaced sugar as the sweetener in many beverages and foods such as breads, cereals, breakfast bars, lunch meats, yogurts, soups and condiments. On average, Americans consume about 12 teaspoons per day of HFCS, but teens and other high consumers can take in 80 percent more HFCS than average."
Okay, that just grosses me out: there's HFCS in lunch meat?? The article goes on,
"Mercury is toxic in all its forms. Given how much high-fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered. We are calling for immediate changes by industry and the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] to help stop this avoidable mercury contamination of the food supply," the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy's Dr. David Wallinga, a co-author of both studies, said in a prepared statement."
About a year ago, the Washington Post published a very informative article about the impact of HFCS on health - the health of our planet, "High-Fructose Corn Syrup: Not So Sweet for the Planet."

Apparently I'm not the only one insulted by the "Sweet Surprise" advertisements. Marion Nestle, author of the Food Polictics blog, writes that
"OK, so lots of people think HFCS is the new trans-fat. It isn’t, but is insulting your intelligence an effective way to deal with that concern? It’s hard to know what on the website is most offensive: the videos of dumb people being condescended to by friends who think they know better (and what’s up with the race and gender combinations?), the slogans (“HFCS has no artificial ingredients and is the same as table sugar”), the quiz questions (“which of the following sweeteners is considered a natural food ingredient: HFCS, honey, sugar, or all of the above”), or the take home message: “As registered dietitians recommend, keep enjoying the foods you love, just do it in moderation.”"
Nestle continues:
"Let’s agree that HFCS has an enormous public relations problem and is widely misunderstood. Biochemically, it is about the same as table sugar (both have about the same amount of fructose and calories), but it is in everything and Americans eat a lot of it—nearly 60 pounds per capita in 2006, just a bit less than pounds of table sugar. HFCS is not a poison, but eating less of any kind of sugar is a good idea these days and anything that promotes eating more is not."
"Ad Wars: Is High-Fructose Corn Syrup Really Good for You?" was published in Time Magazine, and brings up what I believe is one of the most important points.
"The commercials claim that just like sugar, high-fructose corn syrup isn't unhealthy when consumed in moderation. But it's hard to know exactly how much of it we're actually consuming because it shows up in so many unexpected foods. "It was in my children's vitamins!" said Elise Mackin. Because high-fructose corn syrup extends the shelf life of foods, and farm subsidies make it cheaper than sugar, it's added to a staggering range of items, including fruity yogurts, cereals, crackers, ketchup and bread — and in most foods marketed to children. So, unless you're making a concerted effort to avoid it, it's pretty difficult to consume high-fructose corn syrup in moderation. "We did a consumers survey," says Doug Radi of Boulder, Colo., based Rudi's Organic Breads, "and less than 25% of them realized that high-fructose corn syrup is commonly used in bread.""
Yes, bread! For the past thirteen years or so that I've been buying my own bread, I've almost always chosen whole-grain breads - partially for taste, and partially for nutrition. A while back, I realized that seeing "made with whole grains" wasn't a good indication of nutrition, because bread that was mostly processed flour could still be labeled that way. So I got all vigilant about it, and only bought breads that listed a whole grain flour first, or that were labeled as 100% whole grains. Country Kitchen, which is a local company, made one of the best-tasting, most-affordable 100% whole wheat breads, so I had been buying that for years. Then the whole HFCS thing came up. And that's when I threw in the towel and became my own bread baker.

That's right: I make two loaves every week and half or so, and I get to know exactly what's in it. I have a thirty-year old stand mixer that makes it easy - takes about fifteen minutes to make the dough and then only a few more minutes to punch it down, shape it, and slide it into the oven. I've even learned to cut the thin & straight slices!

If you're interested in becoming your own bread baker, here are a few homemade bread recipes that are easy and nutritious. They're the ones I make over & over again...

Light Wheat Bread
from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice

2 1/2 cups (11.25 oz) unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz.) whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 tablespoons (.75 oz.) granulated sugar or honey
1 1/2 teaspoons (.38 oz.) salt
3 tablespoons (1 oz.) powdered milk*
1 1/2 teaspoons (.17 oz.) instant yeast
2 tablespoons (1 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups (10 oz.) water, at room temperature

1. Stir together the high-gluten flour, whole-wheat flour, sugar (if using), salt, powdered milk, and yeast in a 4-quart mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer). Add the shortening, honey (if using), and water. Stir (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) until the ingredients form a ball. If there is still flour in the bottom of the bowl, dribble in additional water. The dough should feel soft and supple. It is better for it to be a little too soft that to be too stiff and tough.

2. Sprinkle high-gluten or whole-wheat flour on the counter, and transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mix on medium speed with the dough hook). Add more flour if needed to make a firm, supple dough that is slightly tacky but not sticky. Kneading should take about 10 minutes (6 minutes by machine). The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77 to 81 degrees F. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3. Ferment at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

4. Remove the dough from the bowl and press it by hand into a rectangle about 3/4 inch thick, 6 inches wide, and 8 to 10 inches long. Form it into a loaf by working from the short side of the dough, rolling up the length of the dough one section at a time, pinching the crease with each rotation to strengthen the surface tension. It will spread wider as you roll it. Pinch the final seam closed with the back edge of your hand or with your thumbs. Place the loaf in a lightly oiled 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch bread pan; the ends of the loaf should touch the ends of the pan to ensure an even rise. Mist the top with spray oil and loosely cover with plastic wrap.

5. Proof at room temperature for approximately 60 to 90 minutes, or until the dough crests above the lip of the pan.

6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with the oven rack on the middle shelf.

7. Place the bread pan on a sheet pan and bake for 30 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue baking for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the oven. The finished loaf should register 190 degrees F in the center, be golden brown on the top and the sides, and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

8. When the bread is finished baking, remove it immediately from the loaf pan and cool it on a rack for at least 1 hour, preferably 2 hours (yeah, good luck with that), before slicing or serving.

Makes one 2-lb. loaf


2pkgs (or equivalent) active dry yeast
1 1/2 C boiling water
1C quick cooking oats (I use regular oats)
1/2C molasses
1/3C butter
1T salt
6 1/4C white flour (I do 3C whole wheat; 3C-ish white)
2 slightly beaten eggs

Soften yeast in 1/2C warm water. In a large bowl, combine the 1.5C boiling water, the oats, molasses, butter and salt; cool to lukewarm. Stir in 2C of the flour; add eggs; beat well. Stir in the softened yeast; beat well.

Add remaining flour, 2C at a time, mixing vigorously after each addition, to make moderately stiff dough. Beat vigorously til smooth, about 10 minutes. Grease top lightly. Cover tightly; place in refrigerator at least 2 hrs or overnight.

Turn out on well-floured surface; shape into 2laves. Place in 8.5 x 4.5" loaf pans. Cover; let rise in warm place until double 1-2hrs. Bake at 375 for about 40 minutes.

Makes 2 loaves

And Whole Wheat Bread with Wheat Germ and Rye
from Cook's Illustrated - The New Best Recipe Cookbook

2 1/3 cups warm water (about 110 degrees)
1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
1/4 cup honey
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 C rye flour
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
3 cups whole-wheat flour
2 3/4 C unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface

1. In the bowl of a standing mixer, mix the water, yeast, honey, butter, and salt with a spatula mix in the rye flour, wheat germ, and 1 cup each of the whole-wheat and all-purpose flours.

2. Add the remaining whole-wheat and all- purpose flours, attach the dough hook, and knead at low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Knead just long enough to make sure that the dough is soft and smooth, about 30 seconds.

Note on hand kneading: Mixing the water, yeast, honey, butter, salt, rye flour, and wheat germ in a large mixing bowl. Mix 2 3/4 cups of the whole- wheat flour and the all-purpose flour in a separate bowl, reserving 1/4 cup of the whole-wheat flour. Add 4 cups of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients; beat with a wooden spoon 5 minutes. Beat in another 1 1/2 cups of the flour mixture to make a thick dough. Turn the dough onto a work surface that has been sprinkled with some of the reserved flour. Knead, adding only as much of the remaining flour as necessary to form a soft, elastic dough, about 5 minutes. Continue with step 3.

3. Place the dough in a very lightly oiled large bowl; cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free area until the dough has doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

4. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Gently press down the dough and divide into two equal pieces. Gently press each piece into a rectangle, about 1 inch thick and no longer than 9 inches. With a long side of the dough facing you, roll the dough firmly into a cylinder, pressing down to make sure that the dough sticks to itself. Turn the dough seam-side up and pinch it closed. Place each cylinder of dough in a greased 9 by 5-inch loaf pan, seam-side down and pressing the dough gently so it touches all four sides of the pan. Cover the shaped dough; let rise until almost doubled in volume, to 30 minutes.

5. Bake until an instant thermometer inserted at an angle from the shot end just above the pan rim reads 205 degrees, 35 to 45 minutes. Transfer the bread immediately from the baking pans to wire racks; cool to room temperature.

Makes two loaves.

Do you have a favorite bread recipe? A story about reading the label & seeing HFCS listed in an unlikely-seeming food? An advertisement that aggravates you? Leave a comment & add to the conversation...

Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
New Mothers Support Circle

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Blogger max den said...

Amazing post

July 22, 2016 at 8:52 AM  

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