Thursday, February 2, 2012

The War on Sugar

045 - sweet (Last day of taking ♥ photos!) A story surfaced in the news today about how some U.S. researchers want to put a tax on products containing sugar (such as beverages, cereals, etc).  I know it's a bit of a controversial viewpoint, but I actually completely agree with this.  If you had asked me a few months ago, I wouldn't.  But ever since I've adopted a primal lifestyle, I've realized how pervasive sugar actually is in our lives.

Here's the thing.  Until you really start to look at food labels, you don't actually realize how much sugar you consume on a daily basis.  I would be totally fine with it, if I was consciously choosing to eat sugar, like a cupcake or a chocolate bar as a treat.  But the fact is, in our society, sugar is hiding in nearly EVERY. SINGLE. THING. that isn't harvested from the ground (and even then, if you pick up a package of "dry roasted almonds" or some canned/frozen vegetables, which are cheaper than fresh,... they'll usually have sugar in them! What's up with that?!) 

Grocery shopping is a frustrating thing for me these days.  I mostly just stick to the perimeter of the store now, because every time I go into the aisles, I am shocked to find sugar (or one of its counterparts: aspertame, high fructose corn syrup and so on) hiding even in healthy foods, or places you wouldn't expect it (anything from tomato sauce to so-called "healthy" whole wheat crackers or power bars).  Now, I don't think anyone should be forced to eat a certain way - do whatever you like.  BUT, I do think it should be a lot clearer when you're consuming something that you may think is "healthy" but actually has horrible ingredients.  And I think mass manufacturers of food have gotten away with hiding sugar for far too long.

By buying and consuming convenience foods throughout the years, these mass manufacturers have managed to change our tastebuds.  "Real" foods don't taste good anymore.  We need everything to be sweeter.  And then they wonder why the diabetes rates are higher today than they have ever been in history.  And then, instead of educating and preventing... we have high profile celebrities who promote drugs as the solution!  Excuse me as I stand on my soapbox, but really... What kind of society do we live in?!

So YES, I think we should TAX the sugar, and give even higher taxes to the companies that are destroying the health of the population!  Make people think about what they put in their mouths, and make companies foot the bill for the diabetes and other diseases that they are (in part) causing.  Teach people how to prepare their own food, and make "convenience" food that is not only affordable, but is ACTUALLY healthy, for the times that people just can't prepare their own snacks and meals.  And teach people how horrible the processed food they've been consuming for years and years - and hopefully steer people away from that direction.

Is it too much to hope for a world where real food lines the shelves, sugar is only available in treats (and in moderation), and I can shop in a grocery store without having to spend 2 hours, because I'm reading every single label (or conversely, shopping in a high-end "crunchy granola" store, and having to spend $200 for a week's groceries?) 

What do you think?  Would you support a tax on sugar - or is it just another case of government interfering too much in our daily choices?

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  1. I agree with you on this one. It's the same with salt. Why is everything so high in sodium? We hardly use any salt at home so every time we eat out, we find ourselves cringing at how salty our meals are. I guess this is why we prefer eating at home.

  2. I completely agree. It's sickening how much sugar is in everything! I've read recently how sugar is more addicting that cocaine - and I don't doubt it! It's in almost everything. Try and cut it out for a day or a week and see how it goes. Because we've been eating sugar for all these years, I'm not surprised if our taste buds are changing! I've really started to change my diet after I took a holistic healthy course.. and you know what? I feel fantastic! I have cut things out and added others and focus more on how my body feels and what it craves. I've cut down on processed foods and am eating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains. It seems like common sense to me! Eat what comes in a natural form and not what comes in a package. It seems so simple, yet I also will say that I think it's lack of knowledge for most people. It's easy to listen to advertising, commercials, magazine ads and also believe packaging of packaged foods. They tell you what you want to hear so you will eat their product. Rule of thumb - read the ingredients... everything else is crap. end rant ;)

  3. I am so very tired of the government forcing healthy changes upon everyone. I'm not against healthy eating but the fact is the government has NO right to tax the hell out of me because it doesn't wanting me eating sweets, consuming alcohol, or even smoking. (Just FYI - I rarely drink and have never smoked).

    The problem with taxing the companies who make the bad food is that the cost simply rolls down th eline to the consumer. We pay, not them.

    Maybe a good solution would be to give tax credits or some kind of compensation to companies who do make healthy food but at a resonable price. Not everyone can afford Whole Foods. Many times the unhealthy foods are cheaper so some people have no choice but to buy prepackagesd and processed foods so they can also pay the rent, heat, etc.

  4. "The problem with taxing the companies who make the bad food is that the cost simply rolls down th eline to the consumer. We pay, not them."

    Sarah: I think that's actually something that I agree with, sort of. The cost of processed food SHOULD go up, so that it costs the same (or more) to buy the sugary stuff than it does to buy the healthy stuff. Give people a chance to actually get out of the packaged/processed food rut.

    Let me explain myself - I don't want people to have to choose between paying rent and eating. I think wages should go up too. What I mean is that people who make a lower income should not be forced to eat crappy food, because they can't afford to eat the healthy stuff. It's just SO wrong in my mind.

    I honestly believe that people should be able to eat whatever they want, whether it's healthy or unhealthy or whatever. But it's absolutely abhorrent that even if people wanted to eat healthier, they simply cannot afford it, and when they try to make the healthiest choices that they can, it's still all loaded with sugar.

  5. I don't agree with the government controlling me or taxing me further. Further, I ate very healthy. Just because I don't eat Paleo, don't eat meat, or don't eat primal does not mean I am not ideal. Maybe not ideal to some, but most people are not as healthy as I am, or as in shape as I am, and I don't think I should have to conform to this type of lifestyle or be taxed. Kill me, I like a Skinny Cow ice cream bar as night. I should not be taxed because of it. Truthfully, I love learning about others ways of eating, but I am kinda sick of the Primal/Paleo lifestyle being looked at as some superior way of being and do not think others should be taxed because they don't follow it. Vent over.

  6. Lori, I think you missed one of my main points though... I'm not saying everyone should eat paleo/primal, stop eating vegetarian/vegan, or eat ANYTHING that they want to. I'm totally down with EVERYONE eating whatever they want, healthy or not.

    I'm also TOTALLY fine with any kind of treat (as I mentioned above)... what worries me is the HIDDEN sugar. When you're grabbing a Skinny Cow Ice Cream Bar - you know that it's a treat, you know that it has sugar. When you're grabbing a bag of frozen veggies, because you're trying to eat healthy on a budget... you (well, maybe not you, I dunno, but in general "you") are not looking for added sugar. That's the thing that bothers me. That companies hide really bad things (not just sugar, even things like cellulose, etc) in products that are masquerading as healthy.

    (Also, FYI, they were proposing a "one cent" tax, so it's not even a huge amount... but because there is sugar in just about everything, the revenue from that one cent would be astronomical)

  7. Sarah put it much better then I could have, so I'll just agree with her :)

  8. One of my childhood friends had whole family with multiple allergies to different foods, my friend was a allergic to different types of sugar (cane, beat). I agree it's in everything, but I am not sure I agree on the taxing of it. If people want to do something, they are going to find a way to do it. The real way to make companies to change in my opinion, is for society and consumers to either run with a fad that then turns into a new habit or norm, or for something to happen where there ends up being either a huge instant health hazard or actual illegalization or restriction. The latter two will never happen for something for things like sugar.

    Lastly, I think people should just become more knowledgable themselves. I read the labels on things and look them up so I know when I'm eating my lovely unhealthy food that it's unhealthy. I also know eatting too many of considered to be healthy items or even generally healthy items can also be unhealthy. And salt and sugar are both preservatives - most likely they are going to be used unless again a trend or acceptance among the consumer-mass changes (taxation won't make people look at the food they are eating, but the government who set the tax).