Mark Bittman has a terrific post, It's the Sugar, Folks, in today's New York Times. He writes:
Sugar is indeed toxic. It may not be the only problem with the Standard American Diet, but it’s fast becoming clear that it’s the major one.
citing this study in PLoS One. The massive study shows that sugar increases your risk of diabetes, whether or not you are overweight and regardless of age, activity, and other factors.
What to do? Once again, the answer is to cook real food from scratch. If you follow the four seasonal menus in Wildly Affordable Organic, you will eat just 28 pounds of sugar a year. The average American in 2003 ate 142 pounds of sugar a year and the trend was up, up, up!
The Wildly Affordable Organic menus include a small but satisfying serving of dessert every day. You can reduce your intake of added sugar further by skipping these desserts. Skip the optional honey or sugar in the bread and Spicy Peanut Noodles and you've eliminated added sugar without eliminating taste.
How is this possible? We're not cooking with any added sugars in the ingredients. We use fresh ingredients or the purest possible canned ingredients.
The other day, I was testing combinations for my Smooth Soup, a travel favorite for hotel "cooking." When I used the canned tomatoes to make bean dishes, some of the results were annoyingly sweet. A label check showed:
- The Muir Glen Organic diced tomatoes and the Whole Foods plain diced tomatoes have no added sugar. They have just 4 grams of sugar and 30 calories for each 1/2 cup serving.
- The Whole Foods 365 Brand Organic Italian Style tomatoes has added sugar as its third ingredient, bringing the numbers per serving up to 8 grams of sugar and 50 calories. That's twice as much sugar.
- For comparison, a half-cup serving of Prego Chunky Garden Sauce with Tomato, Onion, and Garlic has a whopping 10 grams of sugar per serving and 90 calories. That's two and a half times as much sugar!
You can explore Shopwell's useful site to see the sugar added to many products.
In the comments on Bittman's article, Rima Regas says:
We must all, together, demand that processed sugars such as high-fructose corn syrup be banned or, at the very least, severely restricted. I don't use the words force-fed lightly. Those among us who are on food stamps or a limited income have no choice but to buy the cheapest foods. Those are the ones that most commonly have the highest amount of sugars added.
Most people on limited incomes have some degree of choice. Folks with two or three jobs, no kitchens, physical disabilities, and other serious limitations may not, but there are plenty who do. Even if you live in a food desert, you can order affordable, healthy food delivered to your door if you have a credit card and Internet access.
Eating wisely is vital on a limited budget. It keeps your costs low and protects your health. My low-sugar menus also cost only $5 a a day using mostly organic ingredients and $3.21 a day using conventionally grown products. Both approaches cost less than the food stamp allowance here in North Carolina.
Stop buying sugary products yourself, then pressure the government to act. If you really want to speed up the process, become a Wildly Good Cook teacher and help people learn core healthy cooking skills.