Guest post - HFCS: Global Influence? by Fake Food Free

>> Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Another favorite blog of mine is Fake Food Free by Lori Rice. Lori is a freelance health and travel writer. A Nutritionist by education, she is halfway through her 2 year adventure of the true Brazilian experience, which doesn't include a beach anywhere nearby. You can catch up on her thoughts about reducing fake foods at and her ex-pat adventures at

HFCS: Global Influence?

You've watched it happen before. A rather unhealthy food choice climbs to the top of the popularity charts in the US and then begins to permeate the societies of unsuspecting countries around the world.

There are fast food, sodas, pizzas and fried chicken. Now, living abroad has provided me the fortune of realizing that all this fattening of other countries isn't completely our fault. However, you can't ignore the fact that U.S. food corporations and restaurants contribute.

So this got me thinking about HFCS, this fake food that has seeped into almost every packaged product on the US supermarket shelves. Right now, I am a US ex-pat living in a small town in southern Brazil. My roots are in Indiana and Kentucky and last year I took on this adventure of living abroad with my husband. Oh, what an adventure it has been.

I got to wondering if HFCS is even used in Brazil. I wasn't expecting it in Brazilian products, but there are several US companies and products here. We have Kraft, Kellogg, Nestle, and of course, Coca Cola.

I set out this weekend to do some label reading. Lucky for me, since Portuguese is a constant struggle, many foods have English listed on the labels as well. Although, the words in Portuguese aren't so difficult to translate. I would say overall even packaged foods are simpler here. There seem to be fewer additives than what I have become accustomed to in the States.

The first thing I should point out is that sugarcane is a huge crop here. I mean, huge. My husband drives through miles of it to get to work. Needless to say, there is no lack of sugar.

In fact, after a little research on the web I've gathered that the importation of sugar to the US is set low making prices high. This creates a great market for HFCS which is manufactured right in the good ol' US of A. I won't go into that because it will take me longer to get my facts straight and I don't want to pass on any false info. Just something to think about.

After reading label upon label of crackers, pasta sauces, cookies, cereals, yogurt and even Coca Cola, I found no trace of HFCS in the products at our local supermarket here. It is all sugar.

Now, for someone who knows more about the details of trade agreements and import/export practices (not me!) this might not be surprising. However, I guess part of me expected to see that HFCS crept in under the radar somewhere.

I'm not a big packaged food fan anyway, so this doesn't make we want to go out and stock up on cereal and crackers, but it did get me thinking more.

I'm sure there are other countries where our products are exported, the ones that do contain HFCS. So over the next decade are we only going to be adding to the damage that sharing our fast food and unhealthy habits has already done?


laura September 24, 2008 at 3:26 PM  

Lori, your perspective--as both a nutritionist and an expat--is really interesting. I can't remember whether I discovered Cathy's blog through yours or the other way around, but I enjoy reading them both.

Lori September 25, 2008 at 4:05 AM  

Thanks, Laura. I really like seeing other countries from the perspective of health practices, specifically nutrition, exercise and public health efforts. In some ways the US is far ahead and in others we have a whole lot to learn!

cathy October 5, 2008 at 7:55 PM  

So interesting, Lori! I've heard of lots of people who snatch up Coke from Mexico because it's made with sugar and not HFCS. Apparently it has a crisper taste.

Still, HFCS is cheap, so it isn't going to be replaced in junk food anytime soon in the states. I'd bet that sugar is a lot cheaper than HFCS there in Brazil - at least right now.

JC October 6, 2008 at 11:56 AM  

My family has found that food from Canada and Mexico doesn't have HFCS. We also shop quite a bit at Fresh & Easy (here in Southern California), and most of their food doesn't have it (except the American brands they carry).

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