Get ready for a rant.
Most of you know that our oldest son, Kimball, is on the autistic spectrum. He has an autistic spectrum disorder called Asperger's Syndrome, which is similar to High-Functioning Autism. After coming to grips with the reality that our son was different and making peace with his diagnosis, we began to educated ourselves as much as possible about autism.
Much about what causes autism is a mystery, but many researchers have found links between autism and mercury poisoning--one big reason for the debate over vaccinations and autism. (We choose not to vaccinate our children, but that is a post for another day.) It is theorized that some people don't process mercury as well (although mercury is toxic to everyone), and that people on the autistic spectrum have weakened immune systems, which further complicates matters.
Until now, if we wanted to avoid mercury, we knew that the big risks were some seafood, the old amalgam used by dentists, and in some vaccinations. Because Jared & I also believe firmly that diet has an effect on behavior and overall health, we have really tried to eliminate processed foods from our family's diet. This is one reason that I make my own bread (including grinding my own wheat,) why I rarely buy cookies (although my food snobbery does play into that,) and try to make as much as possible from scratch. We, like the rest of you, have heard about the evils of High Fructose Corn Syrup--that it leads to obesity and diabetes, and have been reading labels madly to eliminate that as well.
But we haven't eliminated it completely. If you haven't read labels looking for it, you might not realize that HFCS is found as a main ingredient in lots of everyday items, like jam and preserves, yogurt, breakfast cereal (and not just the kind you think of as "sugary"), maple-flavored syrup (like Log Cabin), and even in nectars and sweetened juices. I have been gradually replacing the strawberry preserves in our food storage with organic preserves, in spite of the cost difference, but have been feeding my family the HFCS stuff until we wipe it out. And I have yet to bring myself to spend upwards of $20 on a bottle of real maple syrup for this family of 6, who goes through a lot of syrup in a year.
Imagine my shock, concern, and even outrage, when I read about two new studies that were published this week. It turns out that much of the HFCS out there has measurable amounts of mercury in it! Even worse, one of these studies was conducted by someone who left the FDA and became a whistle-blower over this issue--because the FDA knew about it over 3 years ago. But did the FDA insist that this type of HFCS be pulled from the shelves? Did they recall all the Kellogg's Raisin Bran and Nesquik? They did not.
Now I look at the Log Cabin in my cupboard and see poison. My poor little children, at least one of whom is even more sensitive to mercury poisoning than I am, and my unborn child, have been consuming mercury with their pancakes, waffles, and french toast. Yes, I knew the HFCS was not good for you, and we cut back dramatically, but I see no reason to give my children ANY mercury at all, thank you very much.
The second study, which tested 55 top food brands for mercury (and found significant amounts of mercury in 1 out of 3 foods tested), points out that HFCS does not require mercury. It is simply a less expensive way to produce it, and as the industry is unregulated, they have gone with the bottom line. It's disgusting, really, how irresponsible that is. Lots of kids out there practically live on processed foods (not that I support that), and think of what kind of exposure they have had now to this toxin.
So, I'm writing to get the word out. Parents need to know about this. And we need to stand up to these companies who are poisoning our children to save a few bucks. I plan to write to several companies, sharing my shock and concern. I will also be returning all my unused HFCS products to Costco (as long as that's where they came from), rather than using up those last few jars of strawberry jam before we go clean.
For more info on this, read:
The Huffington Post (this one has links to the studies as well)
Now please, go through your cupboards and get rid of that stuff!