Friday, February 6, 2009
Sugar is Dead
It sits in your cupboard, quietly. It silently lines the shelves at grocery food stores. It is not sugar's fault that you are eating it. Sugar does not care. Sugar is not a living, sentient thing. Sugar is not evil.
Marketers, advertisers, food companies, agri-business: people, are who you must focus on the next time you are blind-sided by a craving. The next time you can't stop yourself from pulling boxes of cookies and sugary cereals from the shelves of a grocery store, think of the people who have orchestrated this very experience. A lot of money, time and creativity was aimed at key variables in your decision-making.
Sorry, but your personal health is of little concern compared to the money you spend. Of utmost importance to the people responsible for providing sugary foods, is their bottom line. Gross profits. No one, and I mean absolutely no one cares what you do with a product when you bring it home. No one cares if you sit at home and eat an entire box of cookies. No one cares if you eat one or two or five Snicker's bars. Your family might be the only people who care. Those responsible for providing the product in the first place DO NOT CARE ABOUT YOU. If they did, things would be very different. Unhealthy products wouldn't be sold in the first place. Secondly, if they were sold, and people cared, you would get frequent phone calls checking up on you to see if you ate too much, or how you felt after you ate such-and-such product.
The ugly, political/money-driven truth is that if you support an industry of unhealthy products, you've made the people behind these products extremely happy. They count on you feigning ignorance. They count on you feeling peer pressure in social situations. They count on you not being able to see through their tricky advertising. They count on you to be persuaded by the pictures of fruit on a cereal box, with a catch phrase like, "Enriched with B Vitamins!" and they hope you purchase the cereal without looking into their product further. Gerber is being sued currently for these tactics.
It is our fault, as consumers, that companies have gotten away with this. We have chosen to believe the false advertising because we want it to be true. I have found this to be especially true at health food stores. There are still outrageously unhealthy products sold at health food stores. Sodas.....organic. Cookies......with organic cane juice. Non-dairy milk products.....with sugars, corn/palm oils and vitamins. Since when did food-manufacturers begin enriching our food? (In the 1940's.) If we were eating healthy foods to begin with, vitamin-enriched foods would be arbitrary. However, Wonder Bread was a big hit when it came out because it was enriched with essential vitamins. Do the enriched food products really cause us to turn a blind eye to the other ingredients in the product, like white flour, added sugars, or undisclosed "flavors"? If you are interested in enriched food products, please click on this.
So, let me repeat: Sugar is dead. You are not. You are a living, thinking, breathing organism. It is easy for me to rant about the "sugar pushers" and it is easy for you to sit and read this. The problem is, we all seem to get zealously inspired when we read something empowering, but out there in the real world we tend to go with the flow. At restaurants you convince yourself, "This is a special occasion," and at the grocery store you think, "I'll get this for ___," but you know you'll rip open the bag as soon as you get in the car.
Even some of the healthiest people I know will throw their ideals out the window in an effort to "not offend" someone else. I try my best not to offend people when it comes to politics, religion and philosophy, (in fact, I live for friendly, provocative discussions/debates) but when we are talking about something that is potentially going to go into my body, I speak up. It is always my choice and I would rather speak up right away than feel secretly resentful for eating something I didn't want to. Trust me, this is much easier to do if people know ahead of time what your dietary "restrictions" are. (For lack of a better word....)
Try soaking up the inspiring, healthy topics you read about and practice them out there when you leave your home. Ask a store clerk for a suggestion card. Special order a healthy item if it is not on the shelf. Ask your server specific questions about menu items. These questions are often relayed back to the chef/cook. If enough people speak up and demand healthier food, healthier food we will get. Write to food/beverage companies. Tell them how you feel. Tell them what you want. Right now we are demanding junk food and fast food, thus the overabundant supply.
Sugar is dead, but the people counting on you indulging in their products are very much alive and well.