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I Hate Corn Syrup
Coke (and Pepsi) taste better in France (and probably in the rest of Europe). I think I know why: They’re sweetened with sugar instead of corn syrup. I think that’s why some people buy coke, um, sorry, Coke, in Mexico.

I’m in supergirl shape after two weeks in Paris, marching up and down subway steps and five flights of stairs to the apartment. I had lunch at Flore with travel writer Elliott Hester who told me he noticed how all the women in Paris have very muscular calves. You can’t help but get them with all the exertion daily life in Paris requires.

I realized, in addition to the crappy American diet -– huge portions of unhealthy, tasteless food -- a big part of the problem in America is suburbia. People have sedentary jobs, they drive to them, and they have to join a gym to get exercise -- and be pretty disciplined about going.

In cities, moving your ass is a part of life. In New York, I rode my bike, rollerskated, and walked everywhere. In Paris, as in New York, I often walked home from all the way across town because there’s always so much to look at.

In suburbia, what is there to see? I’m from suburbia -- Farmington Hills, Michigan -- and it’s one of the more visually boring places I’ve been. So…it isn’t just our diet, but the way our society is constructed that contributes to the huge-ifying of the U.S.A.

Posted by aalkon at November 4, 2006 8:28 AM

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Sugar rather than corn syrup makes a huge difference. I spent the summer in South America and drank Coke and other sodas on a fairly regular basis, in the US I never touch it.

But it's not just soda, read the labels on processed food in say Safeway, and you'll see corn syrup in just about everything. Unless you shop exclusively at Whole Foods, or cook everything from scratch it's almost impossible to avoid. I'm convinced that it's much worse for you than sugar, and at least part of the reason Americans are so fat.

Posted by: Judith at November 4, 2006 11:36 AM

FYI, once a year you can buy Coke with real sugar in the grocery stores. It's sold for Passover, because corn syrup isn't strictly kosher for the holiday. It's marked and usually in the kosher section, but only in April (or whatever month the holiday falls).

Posted by: AAA at November 4, 2006 12:41 PM

Wow...that's great to know. I know Coke doesn't keep forever, though...I wonder if it keeps a year, though. I'd be willing to store it in my garage.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 4, 2006 12:44 PM

Tere's mexican cafe on the corner of Cahuenga and Melrose sells Mexican coke by the bottle. Muy delicioso!

Posted by: Paul Hrissikopoulos at November 4, 2006 12:54 PM

Coke, that is. Ahem.

Posted by: Paul Hrissikopoulos at November 4, 2006 12:56 PM

The problem is, and I almost wrote this into the blog item, I have no idea what Mexican water standards are. The water used may be purified, and fine...but, I'd have to research that. Anybody seen any info on that?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 4, 2006 1:02 PM

If it's bacteria you're concerned with, the sugar in the Coke is probably more than adequate to kill most microbes.

About 20 years ago I lived for a short while in Costa Rica. Everything had sugar in it...even ground coffee. I had to search out the Sin Azucar label. The avocados in Costa Rica were pretty awesome, though.

Posted by: deja pseu at November 4, 2006 2:14 PM

I usually rely on a combination of public transportation and biking to get me to and from work. It's doing wonders for my quadriceps. And my work as a massage therapist has blessed me with amazing grip strength.

And I usually opt for the stairs as well. What's the elevator bullshit anyway? Our nearest relatives in the animal kingdom are known for their climbing abilities and poor obesified us can't handle a few flights of stairs. Our primate cousins are probably laughing themselves silly.

Posted by: Patrick at November 4, 2006 4:20 PM

"I had lunch at Flore with travel writer Elliott Hester who told me he noticed how all the women in Paris have very muscular calves."

I'm not surprised to hear that Elliot likes muscle.

Posted by: Lena at November 4, 2006 4:34 PM

Amy, have you been to Galco's in Highland Park? They sell all kinds of rare, regional and exotic sodas there, including Mexican Coke and, if you're worried about the water, a domestic brand called Red Rock, which uses the "old" Coke formula. Well worth the trip.

Posted by: cadavra at November 6, 2006 8:41 PM

Excuse my California retardation, but where is Highland Park?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 6, 2006 9:40 PM

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