On March 29th, Darrin Peterson, Assistant Vice President and Product Line Leader for Corn Sweeteners in Cargill's Corn Milling division, visited campus and offered his perspective on the food industry from the point of view of sweetener products. Interestingly, he and our student participants spent the majority of their conversation discussing how the sweetening of food and beverages has evolved over the last 30 years. Of particular interest was Cargill's involvement in both sides of the sweetener business, both natural and artificial. Students were especially curious in the newest sweetener product Stevia and how it works, which Cargill sells under the name Truvia. The discussion moved into a conversation about the participants' own sweetening preferences and how they have changed over time, most commonly due to calorie consciousness and personal values around food products. Darrin also presented a quiz for the students in which he provided fructose information for unnamed products such as honey, maple syrup, high fructose corn sweetener, pear juice and other juices, and similar products. Products that students thought would be 'healthier' based on fructose content, were not necessarily the case based on this attribute.
With questions ranging from production, to consumer trends, to nutritional research of sweetener products, it's clear this is a food discussion about which students have spent a lot of time thinking.