Friday, November 4, 2011

Sugar: The Opiate Of My People

The scientific research is in: sugar has the same effect on brain chemistry as cocaine. It is as addictive as heroin. We're a nation of fat addicts. So what am I doing laying out a plate of cookies for my after-school children? I should be putting out a syringe.

I was overweight as a child. My mother as a child was overweight. My mother's mother was overweight. We were all called chunky or chubby or soft or plump; these words were semi-kind. In high school I worked in a bakery called Waldorf's, making cheese danish. Those halcyon days! Before anyone knew better about black and white frosted cookies, how they are, basically, death.

What should one eat? Michael Pollan's pithy "Not too much. Mostly plants," is not helpful. What I need is a shopping list and a rigid Victorian nanny.

I know there is such a thing called "food" but where is that in my pantry? "Food" requires making it, requires thinking, and time, in a way that a Snickers bar does not. I don't even like Snickers. But that's what I mean: Big Sugar is as effective at brand creation as is Big Pharma, and their products are easier to say and more delicious. Zyrtec is hard. A candy company would kick Cymbalta to the curb. Mallomar. Doesn't that sound better, mellow?

I can rattle off the names of candy bars but I cannot rattle off the names of heirloom beets and I don't mean to make Alice Waters weep. I'm just an average American mom who wants her kids to eat, to "Ess!" as my grandmother would say, pressing another serving of strudel on us all.


  1. Word.

    Wonderful commentary. Maybe a daily dose of Elizabeth's writing will help me stave off the sugar cravings? ;-)

    Happy weekend!


  3. you are absolutely right that sugar like as addictive. free antivirus download