The United States is among the world’s largest sugar producers. Sugar production increased when the U.S cut ties with Cuba in the 60’s, and stopped importing sugar from them. Even more sugar began being produced since government farm subsidies were introduced in the 90’s. Since then the production of the cheap sugar alternative high fructose corn syrup has increased and started making way into more and more American foods. HFCS increased from 2.2 million tons in 1980 to an average 9.2 million tons in the 2000s. Demand for HFCS is driven by demand for products that use the syrups as inputs. For HFCS-55, the major use is in the beverage industry, which demands over 90 percent of total domestic deliveries.
There have been numerous studies proving That High Fructose Corn Syrup does in fact cause and promote obesity. Countries that use HFC in their foods have a 20 percent higher chance of having diabetes. Since 1995 to 2010, 16.9 billion dollars in federal subsidies went to companies and organizations in the business of producing and distributing corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, cornstarch and soy oils. By subsidizing these companies the US government is supporting an unhealthy diet that consists of these foods in their processed form, namely high fructose corn syrup, soybean oil, and grain-fed cattle – all of which are now well-known contributors to obesity and diseases.
Many people are under the impression that farm subsidies benefit the little guy, and help the small farmers stay afloat. However, in truth, these subsidies are only going out to a few select mega farms. This farm subsidy system, in fact, is responsible for putting many small famers out of business when they can’t compete with the large corporate farms. Between 2003 and 2007, the top 10% of subsidized farmers received an annual average of $68,030, whereas the bottom 80% averaged $2312.
There has been a national debate over healthcare reform in America. Many Americans agree that we should ensure access to basic healthcare, and that government may play a role in that task. However, how can we trust a government that dumps money into the production of foods that so clearly make us unhealthy? The US farm subsidy program is backwards and corrupt, subsidizing junk food in one federal office, while another department is funding an anti-obesity campaign.
The American diet is filled with foods based on the processed and nutritionally devoid crops of corn, wheat, and soy. The overuse of HFCS and other processed grains in our foods is creating an obesity epidemic.
HFCS is a cheap alternative to sugar, but at what cost? Our county's health and well-being?