Well, fructose is in the news again. The findings from this latest preliminary research suggest that fructose does not send signals to our brain to tell us that we are full or satiated. I find it interesting that they are reporting this as new information when I remember learning this 2 years ago in my college nutrition class. Is this really new information? Or just the media generating hype because “new and exciting discoveries” will get a larger audience than “we have known this for a while but we decided to tell all of you about it again”? I digress…

Here are my thoughts on sugar in general: We all know we shouldn’t eat the cookie, but we like cookies, so we are going to eat it anyway. Why everyone is so captivated by this research on sugar is beyond me. To explain it in the simplest way possible, sugar breaks down into starch in our body, which is then either burned as energy or stored as fat. If you eat a ton of sugar and don’t burn the energy, it is going to be stored as fat. Since fructose doesn’t tell your brain you are full the way glucose does, when we eat something with fructose in it we tend to eat more.

So, what has fructose in it? HFCS often receives the most blame when it comes to fructose issues, but the truth is that fructose is present at comparable levels in lots of other foods, so we can’t focus on that one sweetener. Table sugar is 50/50 fructose/glucose whereas HFCS is most commonly 55/45 fructose and glucose respectively. Fruit is a healthy choice right? Not if you don’t want to eat any fructose, it is the naturally occurring sugar in fruit. Have you heard of agave nectar? It is a popular sweetener in health food circles; but guess what, it has one of the highest levels of fructose among all sweeteners! The list goes on.

Fructose is in a lot of different things that we all eat, and you know what? That’s OK! It’s just like our parents used to tell us: “Everything in moderation.”  The fact of the matter is that this preliminary research finding isn’t news. If nothing else, it is a reminder to do your research on these things so you can make an informed decision that is right for you. Don’t wait for the news casters to tell you what you should and shouldn’t eat.


Rosalie Sanderson

Membership Administrative Assistant


Originally Posted on Prairie Farmer by Josh Flint

This had me screaming at the television last night. Our local news picked up the story and just ran a blanket summary.

It went something like this: “High-fructose corn syrup has been linked to a higher incidence of type 2 diabetes. According to a new study, type 2 diabetes is 20% more common in countries that use high-fructose corn syrup, such as the U.S.” And, on to the next story.

Before even digging into the matter, I yelled, “Correlation does not equal causation!” This is a basic scientific principle. Yet, the folks at the University of Southern California seem to be pretty good at ignoring it.

After a little news search, I see the New York Times dug a little deeper than the fine folks at St. Louis’ KSDK. Here’s a quote from the initial rote coverage of the release.

“HFCS appears to pose a serious public health problem on a global scale,” says principal study author Michael I. Goran, MD, professor of preventive medicine, director of the Childhood Obesity Research Center, and co-director of the Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute at the Keck School of Medicine at USC in a release. “The study adds to a growing body of scientific literature that indicates HFCS consumption may result in negative health consequences distinct from and more deleterious than natural sugar.”

The Times actually looked at the corn industry’s side of the thing. And, oh, what! There’s a feud going on between the Corn Refiners Association and The Sugar Association? This topic is highly political? Crazy!

The Times article notes in the lead that the study was “under attack” before it was even released. Even more impressive is the quote they received from Goran.

“We’re not saying that high-fructose corn syrup causes diabetes or that it is the only factor or even the only dietary factor with a relation to diabetes,” says Goran. “But it does support a growing body of evidence linking high-fructose corn syrup and diabetes.”

Sounds like someone is back peddling a bit. The Times also notes this isn’t the first HFCS-critical “research” published by Goran. He and the Corn Refiners have traded barbs previously.

Here’s my gripe: a good number of St. Louisans probably now believe HFCS will cause type 2 diabetes. Unless they realized this is highly controversial, they’re probably in the grocery stores now looking for “natural sugar” on labels. KSDK did us a real disservice. With Monsanto’s corporate headquarters in St. Louis, you would have thought they’d researched this a bit more.

Now, how many cities across the U.S. saw the same one-sided news coverage?

Josh Flint
Prairie Farmer


Corn is arguably the most versatile crop in the world. Normally, we think of corn as food, and food only, when actually, less than one percent of corn in our country is sweet corn. Most people do not realize that corn has many different uses and we still continue to find more. Demand for corn has been at an all time high in 2011.

The United States is the largest producer and exporter of corn in the world.  This makes the largest net contribution to United States agricultural trade balance of all the agricultural commodities. On average around 20 percent of corn from the United States is exported. The rest we keep for our own uses.

Fuel ethanol has become a huge use of corn materials. By creating fuel ethanol with corn it has created thousands of jobs to our economy and added over 15 billion dollars to tax revenues through the federal state and the local government. This has displaced more than 445 million barrels of imported oil.

By using corn for ethanol we receive multiple products. After using the starch portion of the kernel that is converted to sugar and fermented, the rest of the kernel is used as corn oil and feed for the livestock.

One of the most important uses of corn is to feed livestock daily. Farmers like to use corn to feed their livestock because it has high-protein and high-energy.

Corn can actually help save the environment! One acre of corn can remove eight tons of harmful greenhouse gas.

Did you know corn is also used to made compostable plastics? Corn based plastics are used in utensils, gift cards, bags, plant containers, water bottles and more. Since they are compostable they will break down eventually.

Not only is corn used to make plastic materials but also there is now fabrics made from corn bio-materials. Corn replaces the oil that is usually used for polyester and nylon. These new fabrics have many advantages; such as they are much softer. Corn bio-materials can also be used to create a tough, stain resistant fiber that is used for carpets.

Researchers are now trying to find even more opportunities to use corn for more petroleum-based products. The opportunities are nearly endless. From antibiotics to frosting, to pet food to baby food, corn is a widely used crop that we could not get by without.

Hope everyone has a safe and fun Halloween with plenty of candy corn!

Emilie Gill
Illinois State University Student


“There is no such thing as a stupid question.”

This week, the world will celebrate “Ask a stupid question” day.  Apparently it was created in the 1980s to encourage school children to ask more questions in class and not feel scared or that they’d be ridiculed.

So today, Illinois Corn brings you a variety of questions that we think are anything but stupid!

When the weather affects the crops, how do the farmers recoup their losses?

Farmers are a vital part of the country’s economy. They help grocery stores stay stocked with fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats. Farmers rely on several things to help get them through a difficult farming year.

Crop insurance can provide financial relief to people who suffer the loss of their crops for whatever reason. Usually farmers lose their crops due to weather incidents that take place. These include rain, tornadoes, droughts, or floods.  Most farmers purchase some type of crop insurance to protect themselves.

Some farmers never recoup their costs from a bad growing season.  Sometimes they have to take a loss and rely on whatever savings they have stored up from previous years.

What’s ethanol, and why do we need it?

Ethanol is an alcohol made from renewable resources such as corn and other cereal grains, food and other beverage wastes and forestry by-products. Ethanol-blended fuel substantially reduces carbon monoxide and volatile organic compound emissions, which are precursors to ozone. Adding ethanol to gasoline reduces harmful emissions, lowers the cost of our transportation fuels – and reduces our reliance on foreign oil imports. Find more information about ethanol at

Wouldn’t our food be healthier if you didn’t use chemicals?

Much like people don’t want ants in the kitchen or weeds in the garden, corn and soybean farmers don’t want insects and weeds in our crops. Pests cause significant damage, spread diseases and destroy otherwise healthy crops.

When we need to use a pesticide or herbicide, we use the least amount possible, of the safest material possible.  Farmers are trained and certified to apply chemicals by the Illinois Department of Agriculture.  We also have to follow very strict rules from the EPA and FDA on how and when to apply farm chemicals. You can find more information at

How much ethanol will one bushel of corn produce?

One bushel of corn produces 2.8 gallons of ethanol in addition to several valuable food and feed co-products.  Using only the starch from the corn kernel, the production process results in vitamins, protein, corn oil fiber and other by-products that can be used for food, feed and industrial use.

Ethanol can also be used in several forms to meet the needs of our transportation.  A 10% blend of ethanol with gasoline is the most widely available blend.  More than 90% of our national gasoline contains 10% ethanol.  In Illinois over 95% of our gasoline contains 10% ethanol.  E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, makes an excellent environmentally friendly fuel.  Ethanol’s desirable characteristics (higher octane, cleaner burning, less carcinogenic) assure its viability even as new engine technology is developed.

I’m not sure if high fructose corn syrup is good or bad for me. Can you tell me more?

High fructose corn syrup, or HFCS, is simply the naturally occurring sugar in the corn kernel, pulled out and used as a sweetener in processed foods.  By comparison, table sugar is the naturally occurring sugar in the sugar cane plant, pulled out and processed into the sugar that you recognize.

Studies show that your body processed HFCS and table sugar exactly the same and that HFCS doesn’t contribute to obesity any more than any other sugar does.

Visit Sweet Surprise, Sweet Scam, or Corn to learn the facts about high fructose corn syrup.

Do you have a question that you’d like to ask an Illlinois farmer?  Comment here to raise your question or visit to ask.  Remember, there are no stupid questions!  Illinois farmers want you to understand that they are responsible and careful stewards of the land and the food that they produce.

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director


I see online that yesterday was “No Brainer Day.” What this is supposed to mean exactly, I’m not sure, but I felt like taking a moment to set our readership straight on what I think is one of the bigger “no brainers” in agriculture today.

High Fructose Corn Syrup. It’s nutritionally no different than regular sugar. The end.

Instead of taking my word for it (because I’m not a nutritionist), and instead of listening to Michael Pollan (a journalist) or a TV commercial or some other less qualified source of information, listen to the professionals.

Don’t be confused by good marketing. Research shows that high fructose corn syrup is the same as sugar.

It’s a no brainer.

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director


Ghouls and Goblins will soon be running up and down the streets in your local neighborhood. Children of all ages are on the prowl in stunning costumes to find their favorite candies. Halloween brings visions of ghosts and witches often giving little ones nightmares. But this year parents need not fear High Fructose Corn Syrup as it is nutritionally equal to other table sugars.

High-fructose corn syrup is a popular ingredient in soda pop and other flavored drinks. In fact, this sweetener is the most common on the market and found in processed foods and snacks. But don’t get confused that it’s called “high-fructose” corn syrup. The facts are that table sugar consists of 50/50 fructose and glucose, while HFCS is approximately 55 percent fructose and 42 percent glucose. Does this make them nutritionally different? Not a chance.

The Corn Refiners Association is currently working with the FDA to rename HFCS to “Corn Sugar.” Since consumers believe (and rightfully so based on the name!) that HFCS is actually higher in fructose than other sugars, the petitioners are joining forces with farmers to help clarify consumer product labels and give this sweetener a chance. Corn sugar has been around for over 40 years and refiners have set a goal that the renaming of HFCS will help consumers understand that the HFCS is no different from other sugars and also makes it clearer where the sugar comes from.

HFCS will likely be in all the Halloween candy that you consume this weekend. It naturally enhances flavors, provides a soft texture, and helps make all the foods we love even more enjoyable. This yummy additive is also in ketchup, yogurt, baked goods, and canned fruits. 

This Halloween don’t get tricked by the labels, treat your guests with their favorites. This sweetener made from a natural grain is FDA approved and contains the equivalent amount of calories as sugar. Provide those scary trick-or-treaters with gummy or chocolaty candies without a fear!

Have a Safe and Happy Halloween!!!

Traci Pitstick
Illinois State University
Illinois farm girl

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Sometimes, when you take a step off your soapbox and look at the world around you, you realize that it’s not all about you.  That’s exactly what I did this morning when I read this article.

So … apparently the joke’s not just on us. And actually, the joke’s not just on the sugar industry in general. It just so happens that the joke is finally on the American consumer.

The agricultural industry is fairly criticized as constantly talking about facts in these “food vs. fuel,” “slow food,” “corn is causing obesity” discussions that we find all around us, instead of the emotions behind the concern. Research tells us that saying that we’re growing food for a hungry world isn’t a good argument because consumers honestly *feel* like someone is pulling the wool over their eyes and no one is being genuine with them about the food production chain.

But here’s where the rubber might finally meet the road.

Agriculture has been telling the world over and over that if we don’t use modern food production methods, people are going to go hungry. Leaders in the humanitarian effort have praised the use of modern agricultural methods for feeding third world countries and lessoning the impacts on the environment. Still, consumers are skeptical.

Let me connect the dots for you one last time.

Modern agriculture allows us to produce enough food to feed a growing world population. If the world wants agriculture to operate as it did in the 1920s, we’re going to have yields just like we did in the 1920s. And things were a lot tougher in the 20s so, get ready.

Consumers have thrown a mini temper tantrum over the use of high fructose corn syrup in their foods and have used buying power to convert many products over to the same old table sugar that you’ve known and loved for decades. At the same time, you’ve voted in administrations that are so concerned about the environment that they won’t allow GMO sugar beets to be grown. That means no sugar supply because growing “sugar” like we did in the 1920s yields a lot less sugar. Get ready.

And all this despite science that proves that we’re not hurting the environment and that high fructose corn syrup doesn’t actually make you any fatter than regular old sugar. You wanted it, you’re getting it. Get ready.

Turns out you can’t have your (table sugar) cake and eat it too.

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director


There’s been a lot of information about High Fructose Corn Syrup floating around the Illinois Corn office this week.  First, the news that in the wake of declining sales, Sierra Mist and 7-Up are both heading the “natural” direction of eliminating HFCS and replacing with sugar cane sugar.  As the new “Friend a Farmer” Facebook fan page points out, since when isn’t corn natural?

Today, news that the Corn Refiners Association has petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to allow manufacturers the option of using the term “corn sugar” instead of High Fructose Corn Syrup.  The Corn Refiners argue that a consumer poll showed that many consumers believe HFCS to be higher in fructose, which isn’t the truth, thus, the name is misleading.  This will be an interesting story to follow.

But we can finalize the HFCS news with two great videos that set the record straight.  One of our own Illinois Corn Directors, Len Corzine, volunteered his corn field for the set, even allowing videographers to direct the plowing of a section of the field.  What dedication!

Think about sharing this video with your friends and neighbors, on Facebook, and through email.  People need to understand that corn sugar is really no different than table sugar. 

If you don’t tell them that truth, others are going to tell them something drastically different.

Becky Finfrock
ICGA/ICMB Communications Assistant


Farmers have always used the latest and greatest best management practices to produce safe and affordable food in a way that preserves the environment because that’s the right thing to do.  Now, even best management practices can’t save them from the threat of lawsuits.

Yes, lawsuits.  In a country that repeatedly tells us that they love family farmers and wants to see them succeed, family farmers everywhere are desperately trying to protect themselves from losing everything in a lawsuit, even when they are trying their best to follow the letter of the law.

As an example, the US EPA is currently working on new spray drift regulation that would essentially consider any chemical leaving any nozzle as a point source pollutant.  The US EPA would like to require all farmers (and local muncipalities spraying to control mosquito populations or even normal citizens wanting to spray) to obtain a permit to apply these chemicals.  Aside from the fact that the chemicals in these low doses have been proven safe, the problem here is that state EPAs don’t have the staff available to issue all the permits.  This leaves farmers either unable to apply their crop protection products or applying them without a permit.  As you might guess, applying them without a permit opens farmers up to the threat of citizen lawsuit. 

What’s a farmer to do?

If you’re in IL, perhaps you’ve followed the Tradition Dairy case in JoDaviess County.  This is a lawsuit brought on by a citizen group that is absolutely convinced that the dairy being sited in JoDaviess County will harm their health and bring other ruin to the county.  Nevermind that the state legislature has set up strict guidelines on siting livestock facilities and how they are managed (called the Livestock Management Facilities Act) and that Tradition Dairy has followed every single one and more, the citizen group has the right to sue the dairy owner over a perceived threat of harm before the livestock farm has even milked one single cow! 

What’s a farmer to do?

Add lawsuits over high fructose corn syrup aiding the spread of pancreatic cancer and animal rights which would effectively allow a farmer’s herd of cattle to sue him to the list … and this list isn’t even exhaustive!

What’s a farmer to do?

Certainly if our country supports rural economies and the farms that run them, we need to rethink subjecting our farmers to this level of scrutiny.  If American citizens really do love family farmers and want them to succeed, they cannot allow a flock of chickens to sue.  What small business man could stand up to this sort of obsurdity?

Farmers need rules to follow just like everyone else in any other industry under the sun.  Best management practices are a good thing and laws that demand such practices are necessary to ensure that each and every player in our food production system is operating with integrity.  But when is following the law enough?

What’s a farmer to do?

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Project Coordinator


Do you know your sugars? Which ones are good and which ones are bad for you? Take this quiz and see how you do.

Some people mistakenly think that some sweeteners are healthier than others. When in reality, the facts just don’t add up. Whether it’s sugar from cane, beets or corn, all sweet treats have the same number of calories.  To learn more about how these are all made click here.  Don’t let yourself be scammed!

Becky Finfrock
ICGA/ICMB Communications Assistant