Cover of "Sugar Blues"

Cover of Sugar Blues

There was a historic, unprecedented march that started in New York City on Oct. 1 and arrived at the White House in time for World Food Day, Oct. 16. It is the “Right2KnowMarch”, a grassroots movement addressing genetically modified food concerns and promoting growth of the U.S. organic food industry.

I’m glad these controversial topics are being exposed, but it makes me wonder: How did we stray so far from my grandfather’s way of farming in just two generations? How did our country become the unhealthiest, the most obese and the least educated about our changing food production?

In my attempts toward a healthier diet, I’ve found that the food industry is complicated, nothing like the ‘good old days.’  There are political, scientific and emotional layers.  It can get overwhelming.

My first significant baby step: I’ve eliminated sugar.  Sugar had an effect on me that I wasn’t even aware existed. I’ve learned to read labels and find sugar disguised as fructose, sucrose, maltose, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup and about 40 other names.

Research shows that sugar is linked to disease, as well as depression and mood swings. Why, then, does the indulgence of chocolate or pastries usually make us feel so good?

The problem seems to be the sheer amount of sugar in our diets.  It’s hidden in so many foods, that the average American consumes 100 pounds of sugar every year. That’s 10-15 times more than our grandparents had in their diet. Sugar in the American food supply is much more prevalent than in other (healthier) countries.

When I quit eating sugar, I immediately felt the effects. My cravings were challenging initially, but now I have no desire to sneak even a small bite. I use low-sugar fresh fruits to satisfy my decades-old sweet tooth.  I feel energetic and happy with the tightening of my belt loop every few weeks!

At the Organicfest last month, a customer told me about a book I ‘must read.’ William Duffy wrote “Sugar Blues” in 1975, making the case that sugar is a highly addictive substance comparable to heroin, cocaine and morphine. John Lennon endorsed the book in an interview decades ago and since then it’s apparently sold more than 1.5 million copies.

It makes me wonder…was I an addict?  The daily desires I had for cookies or chocolate are a not-so-distant memory, but the encouraging news is that the less I consume, the less I want.

Take a look at these other books I discovered; just reading the titles may raise a few skeptic eyebrows:

* “Suicide by Sugar” by Nancy Appleton

* “The Sugar Addict’s Total Recovery Program” by Kathleen DesMaisons.

* “Sugar Nation: The hidden truth behind America’s deadliest habit” by Jeff O’Connell.

* “Sugar Shock!: How sweets and simple carbs can derail your life” by Connie Bennett and Stephen Sinatra, M.D.

There is a common theme in everything I read: sugar is at the helm of the health crisis in our society. Even cane sugar is processed with about 60 chemicals. However, it’s just not practical to live without any sugar, so I’ll be considering honey, agave and stevia as some natural substitutions.

I am continuing to research our growing agriculture problems. World Food Day and America’s Food Day a week later will bring these issues to the forefront and hopefully gain international attention.  Meanwhile, I’ll fondly remember the marchers as I walk my dog this month and continue my ‘sweet rehab’ from sugar.