Welcome to the blog for Colgate University's interdisciplinary course on food. This is the place to keep up with what students in the course are experiencing in their work at Common Thread Community Farm and through their everyday encounters with food.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

the threat of sugar

This is a link to a National Geographic article, which appropriately focuses on sugar. The article discusses much of the same material that we have been dealing with in our reading by Mintz. For example, sugar’s history as a rare commodity consumed only by the elite, followed by its increasing accessibility to individuals of various socioeconomic classes. I was impressed by the extensive historical background, which the article provided. For the uninformed reader such information will be very enlightening.

I was drawn to this article because I believe it raises some key points. First, it highlights the socioeconomic aspect of the issue regarding unhealthy food. Poorer individuals face a financial constraint when making healthy food choices. This is why racial minorities (at least in the US) are disproportionally affected by the ill consequences of unhealthy food, particularly sugar. Over the summer I was in Mexico, which recently passed the US as the most obese country in the Americas. I noticed that almost no one drank bottled water. Everyone was drinking soda. However, I think the article makes a good point in distinguishing people’s perception of sugary foods. For people with more money, soda is often viewed as an unhealthy food selection. In contrast, people with less money are more likely to view soda as an affordable treat or luxury.

I also believe this article does a good job of bringing to our attention the accessibility of sugary foods and drinks in public schools. This is a major contributor to obesity among children and adolescents. I think initiatives should be taken to limit the availability of unhealthy food options to the public. In my public high school soda was removed from the vending machines. However, my HS was also an open campus school, which allowed sophomores, juniors, and seniors to leave campus when they did not have class. This privilege to leave campus was used almost exclusively to go buy lunch at the local Coop store, as oppose to eating in the cafeteria. I often viewed students making very unhealthy selections for lunch. On one occasion (which I should mention was the most extreme) I observed a student buy a jumbo Hershey chocolate bar and a 2-liter bottle of root beer for lunch.

In conclusion, this article raises awareness of the health consequences of sugar. Given sugar’s addictive quality, this threat should be taken seriously. 

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