Tracing the impact of sugar on health, culture and environment over the years 

WChicken book by nature author Rachel Carson silent Spring was published in 1962, there was a fierce reaction, especially from chemical firms. In her book, she carefully laid out how DDT entered the food chain, arguing for better testing and the informed use of pesticides. In his essay on Carson (burning questions), Margaret Atwood admits that most people were not ready for the book. “It was being said that orange juice—then being heralded as the sunshine key to over-the-top health—was actually poisoning you.”

For Atwood, one of the key lessons of silent Spring Were things labeled as progressive not necessarily good. “The second was that the supposed division between man and nature is not real: the inside of your body is connected to the world around you … and what goes into it – whether eaten or breathed or drunk or be absorbed through your skin – it has a profound effect on you.

India, a sweets-loving nation, will have to consider some disturbing findings as a new study suggests that an estimated 101.3 million people in a population of 1400 million may be suffering from diabetes, and another 136 million pre-diabetic. May be in phase. The ICMR-INDAB study, conducted between 2008 and 2020 across the country, is based on an analysis of the prevalence of obesity, hypertension and hypercholesterolemia or bad cholesterol.

As per current estimates, about 11% of the country’s population is already diabetic with 16.4% in urban India, while the prevalence is 8.9% in the rural population.

‘Don’t let it off the hook’

In case against sugar (2016), Gary Taubes argues that sugar “should not be let off the hook” when trying to understand why obesity and diabetes are on the rise in the population. They argue that sugars like sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup are the root causes of diabetes and obesity, using the same simple reason we say that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer.


“This is not because we eat too many of these sugars – although this is implied by the words ‘overvalued’ and ‘excessive’ – but because they have unique physiological, metabolic and endocrinological (i.e. hormonal) effects in the human body that directly trigger these disorders.

Damayanti Dutta Sugar: The Silent Killer (2022) labels India as the ‘Republic of Sugar’ because “our collective tendency” to make anything sweet, a connecting factor. The body needs sugar (energy) to keep going, but too much of it will have consequences. India leads the world in “diseases linked to sugar (and the fats with which sugar is inextricably linked): from obesity to diabetes, from heart disease to hypertension, from cancer to dementia.” If sugar is bad, she asks, why has it seeped into our food system so deeply? Like the pushback on tobacco and alcohol, why aren’t doctors, activists and policymakers rising to the Chinese challenge? Questions are being raised, and from within the scientific community.


Dutta explains why sugar is a complicated story for India, which has had a long association with the white crystal. The origin of sugarcane goes back 3,500 years in our country, while only a thousand years in the West. especially speaking of Bengal, which tends to live for Message (and fish), word sweet (sweet) stands for the universe of things that look, feel or smell good, says Datta, “be it fragrance, colour, nature, music, sound, temperament, behaviour, affection” etc.

“Our food environment, our love for new foods and fashions, how we cook, who we buy our foods from, when we eat, and how we live, work, and think, are all shaped by sugar.” can affect the story,” she writes explores the “good, the bad, and the scary” layers of Sugar.

From sweet luxury to bulk

Ulbe Bosma has been studying the sugar plantations of Asia, and in his 2016 book, Sugar Plantations in India and Thailand: Industrial Production (1770–2010)), he points out that the industrialization of sugar production in Asia was initiated by the European colonial powers in the early 19th century. It was then that sugar went through a remarkable transformation from a relative luxury item to a wholesale commodity. He writes that the crop itself was not a novelty as its production was deeply embedded in some of the major rural economies of Asia. By 1800, India and China each produced more sugar than the Atlantic “Sugar Plantation Complex”.


In his new book, world of sugarIn this book, Bosma explores how sugar has fundamentally “changed how we feed ourselves, deeply influenced human relations through its close association with slavery, and caused widespread environmental degradation”. ” Sugar has already ruined many people’s health, and matters are poised to get worse, says Bosma, who also traces its history and how the scale and economic clout of the sugar industry, has making it “incredibly difficult to overcome market inefficiencies”. overproduction and overconsumption.” The ubiquity of sugar tells us about progress, but also a darker story of human exploitation, writes Bosma.

Experts are crying foul over the need to make a fair judgment on sugar as individuals and as a society, but that’s easier said than done.

As Bosma explains, “Since sugar is a relatively recent phenomenon, we haven’t yet learned how to control it and have relegated it to what it once was: a sweet luxury.”

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