Its easy to start with corn syrup- the corn-based sweetener that is used as a cheap substitute for cane sugar in many sodas. The problem with having so much corn syrup in these products is that corn is simply not a sustainable crop. It is not rotated with other crops and requires the use of many pesticides. It depletes soil across swaths of the Midwest.
Another problematic ingredient found in many sodas is Benzene, a carcinogen. This is a chemical that has a recommendation of no more than 5 ppm in our drinking water, and yet has appeared as much as 80 or more ppm in some soft drinks. It is found in burning oil and used in the process of synthetic dyes. It is inadvertently created when the conditions are right as a reaction between Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and either sodium benzoate or potassium benzoate. Many companies changed their formulas when a study revealed these unsafe levels. But it doesn’t change the fact that even low levels are dangerous to consume and are being consumed in vast quantities by many Americans.
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