It won't surprise regular readers of this column to learn that if I were stranded on a desert island, I'd want the only restaurant there to be a taqueria. I'd set up shelter within walking distance of both the surf and the food and grow fat and happy on tacos al pastor, tortas the size of my head and Mexican Coca-Cola -- the real Real Thing, made with sugar and not high-fructose corn syrup -- in dewy glass bottles.
In the mail today was a large envelope from the Corn Refiners Association, an organization with a rather auspicious return address: 1701 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.
"Dear Mr. Froeb," the letter begins. (Mr. Froeb is my father, actually. You can call me Ian.)
We read the February 25 article "Taco the Town..." with interest. There is a lot of confusion about high-fructose corn syrup. We would like to provide you with science-based information on this safe sweetener and be a reference for you for future articles.
Even former critics of high-fructose corn syrup dispel long-held myths and distance themselves from earlier speculation about the sweetener's link to obesity...
It goes on. And that's just the two-page letter. The association also included numerous glossy handouts on the myths about HFCS as well as a photocopy of a 2006 New York Times article titled "A Sweetener with a Bad Rap."
It cost $1.52 to mail all this.
Someone's a little touchy. Because all I did was restate my preferred preference for Mexican Coca-Cola over its American sibling. The Mexican version is still made with sugar -- as was domestic Coke for most of its existence. Does that mean Mexican Coca-Cola is "better" for you because it lacks HFCS? Hell if I know. I'm no scientist -- though when it comes to sugar- or HFCS-laden soft drinks, I think arguments about health might be moot. At any rate, I was just sharing my opinion: Mexican Coke tastes better.
I don't fault the Corn Refiners Association for doing its job. And I can't say I was surprised by the response -- only that they found me here in flyover country. But the organization has been on the offensive lately, with its Sweet Surprise Web site and a TV ad campaign:
The "taxpayer" ploy pushes an easy button so that we don't think about the larger picture.