Sugar High: The Dark History and Nasty Methods Used to Feed Our Sweet Tooth
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Understanding how various restoration schemes will affect both the Everglades and Florida's sugar industry (which enjoys a symbiotic relationship with both major American political parties) is complex, but even those who care deeply for the Everglades understand the issue in the context of believing sugar is a necessity. Adornato says that he does not simply have a sweet tooth, he has "sweet teeth," and sugar has to come from somewhere. "The bottom line is that sugar grown in Florida does not pay the consequences for its impact."
Sadler, who unsuccessfully campaigned to assess a penny per pound "polluter pays" fee on sugar companies, agrees, noting that if sugar is not grown in Florida, where we have some environmental and worker protections, it will be grown elsewhere in the world where conditions may be worse.
While sugar consumption is not a necessity, production is going up, not down, given the popularity of biofuels and the relative efficiency of sugarcane compared to other feedstocks. But perhaps the answer is not giving up sugar but reducing our intake to reduce its ecological footprint as well. Sugar ranks alongside factory farmed animal products as unsustainably produced foods that Americans eat in quantities greater than are healthy.
Likewise, both foods benefit from lax federal environmental standards that stick taxpayers with the bill to clean up pollution or simply force citizens to live with a mess that is never cleaned up, and producers of both foods benefit from federal commodity policies that make their products more profitable. Most of all, both tell of a broken political process in which the needs of the majority are overlooked as long as a powerful and wealthy few finance the political campaigns of both Democrats and Republicans.
Jill Richardson is the founder of the blog La Vida Locavore and a member of the Organic Consumers Association policy advisory board. She is the author of Recipe for America: Why Our Food System Is Broken and What We Can Do to Fix It. .