In case there are other people who have not read the book ‘Sugar Blues’ by William Dufty – originally published in 1976 – it can surely be highly recommended. Dufty was an ardent exponent of trade unionism who died in 2002 at the age of 86. He is also known for his interest in an aspect of life that has been thoroughly colonised by capitalism: human health and well-being – particularly as it relates to nutrition. Arguably, one of the most powerful weapons of self determination that we have at our disposal is our ability to choose what we put into our own bodies. Only up to a point as things stand however, because the information that is needed for us to make informed choices is deliberately being held back in many instances and/or distorted so as to encourage people to believe that the food they are consuming is safe when in fact much of it is laced with additives, chemicals and toxins – and denatured by production processes that strip away vital nutrition for no other reason than to prolong profit-enhancing shelf life. Additionally, the vast majority of us no longer have any control over the means of production of something so fundamental to our health and happiness. Trillions of dollars of profit are made by those who benefit from this enforced state of affairs.
Throughout much of his life, William Dufty campaigned to promote to restore the empowerment of the individual over care and control of his or her own health. ‘Sugar Blues’ is brilliantly written, is pacy, punchy, interesting – highly entertaining and hugely informative. The history of sugar is the history of western politics to a large degree – a commodity soaked in the blood of the salve trade and the focus of appalling capitalist corruption. Dufty describes how the American Food and Drug Administration came to represent the vested interests who were profiteering out of adulterated and sickening foods including those of the sugar lobby – and how those who tried to expose the scientific truth were silenced – even to the extent of shutting down, in the early part of the 20th century, a government appointed watchdog organisation that had begun to flex its muscles against toxic additives and chemicals in food.
The monumental scandal described at the heart of the book is the truth it tells about refined sugar itself – a poison that is now routinely added to so much of our food that epidemics of illness and disease are needlessly affecting billions of people – while the medical establishment stays largely silent and complicit about a substance that it knows full well is atrociously bad for human health. Refined sugar or sucrose (not to be confused with glucose, a different type of sugar which the body manufactures itself from healthy whole foods – though the sugar lobby continually conflates the two substances by referring to both as ‘sugar’ – to disguise the true nature of white sugar) – acts as a slow poison in the human body. Over time it affects both mental and physical well-being. Aside from alternative medical practitioners who have long understood the evil that is refined sugar, orthodox medical practitioners are increasingly pointing to sugar as the source of many degenerative and other illnesses. Basically, sugar wallops virtually every system in the body. Consumption of sugar has been increasing in direct correlation to increases in the incidence of coronary heart disease, cancers, diabetes and a whole array of now familiar medical conditions commonest among sugar-saturated societies. As Dufty said, it is not just that sugar has no food value; it is positively bad for you. For example, in one test people who ate nothing over a period of 9 days stayed healthier and stronger than those who ate only sugar. It’s unlikely by now that many people don’t know that sugar is bad for them – but just how bad is another matter.
It’s also insidiously present in our diets. Among the many hidden sources of sugar in our foods, it might surprise some people to know that flue dried tobacco (the most commonly smoked kind) has a sugar ‘sauce’ added to it to help the tobacco stay alight. In countries where this sort of tobacco is smoked by a majority of smokers, lung cancers far exceed the incidence in countries where air dried, unadulterated tobacco is used. Even when the amount of tobacco smoked is less.
As is often the case with exploitation, it is the most vulnerable and the poorest who pay the highest price for the deception of the corporate food lobby. In the fight against the capitalist-driven food scandal, knowledge is everything. If you haven’t already, ‘Sugar Blues’ could be a good place to make a start on taking control of your own health and out of the hands of the food industry barons.
Image is taken by Claire Wilson of Ginger Pixel photo blog and appeared in the post Chocolate Love Fest.
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