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12 foods that are bad for the planet

By: Laura Moss on April 25, 2011, 12:40 p.m.
corn field

Photo: ZUMA Press

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High-fructose corn syrup foods

High-fructose corn syrup is one of the most environmentally damaging ingredients for a variety of reasons. Firstly, corn is grown as a monoculture, meaning the land is used solely for corn and not rotated, which depletes soil nutrients, contributes to erosion and requires more pesticides and fertilizer. The use of such chemicals contributes to problems like the Gulf of Mexico dead zone, an area of the ocean where nothing can live because the water is starved of oxygen, and atrazine, a common herbicide used on corn crops, has been shown to turn male frogs into hermaphrodites. Milling and chemically altering corn to produce high-fructose corn syrup is also an energy-intensive practice.