Yesterday’s fair was productive and also fun, though 7:00 seemed unnecessarily early. There were no actual customers for the first hour, but I had the opportunity to chat with the woman at the next booth.
She had recently arrived from Austin, she told me, and we had quite an interesting talk about regional differences and urban versus rural life and child-rearing. In the course of conversation, we also discovered that she is the wife of the pastor at The Poster Queen’s church, a circumstance that automatically makes us old friends. She was selling cool bags made of interesting combinations of fabrics and vintage buttons, so I told her about Etsy, not that I know much about it, but so many of our number have Etsy shops that I figure it must be a good venue.
Janalisa came along after a bit and added even more topics to the conversation, since both of them have connections to broadcasting, and then we discovered that all of us sing in choirs. It may be that the widespread human fascination with coincidences is not so much about a failure to understand statistics (as so many of my favorite writers on the subject suggest) as it is about the way conversations go. As soon as you discover something in common, you are allowed to claim it as a bond and talk about it. The resultant community-building seems obviously adaptive. Feel free to argue with me on that, of course. I am willing to provide support for my claim if it doesn’t seem obvious to you.
Then came #2 son’s gymnastics class and the grocery, where we ran into #1 daughter’s in-laws and #2 son snuck sugary cereal into the cart. There was a connection between the two events, because it wasn’t until we stopped to chat with Son-in-law’s parents that I noticed the box of Cocoa Pebbles in the cart.
It wasn’t quite like being caught buying pornography, but close.
Following all this excitement, I spent the remainder of the afternoon lolling about. I also slept for an extra hour this morning, what with the time change and all.
Even so, I am tired. So I may, after church, have another afternoon of lolling about. I am attending another concert tonight, this one featuring Anonymous Four. If you click on their name, you will see them in nice sweaters (knitters will appreciate that bit), and then if you explore a bit you will be able to listen to them, too.
Among the topics that arose yesterday, even before the Cocoa Pebbles, was sugar.
Janalisa is following a new eating plan called “Sugar Busters.” Now, you know that I am not supposed to eat sugar, and you have seen enough pictures of cakes and pastries here to know that I do. Sugar Busters also classes all refined grains (that is, white flour, white rice, etc.) as sugar, and I think they’re right there. All those things are simple carbohydrates, and I believe that they are nutritionally empty. I don’t eat them casually — that is, I don’t put sugar in my tea or have processed foods made mostly of simple carbohydrates and unhealthy fats. If I am going to do something I think I shouldn’t do, it has to be worth it. Brownies, apple pie, things like that are worth it, at least occasionally, but I am not about to eat sugars in the form of Mini Corn Dogs or crackers.
But there is not complete agreement that sugar is unhealthy. In fact, with the amazing rise of high-fructose corn syrup, many people are arguing that cane sugar is a healthier choice, and looking for it on labels.
When I was in school, a million years ago, we studied this question in Biochemical Anthropology class. An examination of the evidence at the time suggested that simple carbohydrates were nutritionally empty and led to tooth decay, but that they did not cause diabetes or hyperactivity in children, and I don’t see that there is a whole lot of new evidence on the subject.
However, there is an enormous industry supporting sugar.
Here is a recap of an old sugar industry propaganda campaign, “Sugar’s Got What it Takes,” which warns moms that “Exhaustion may be dangerous” and assures us that sugar “offsets exhaustion.” Don’t think this is old news — the sugar sack in my kitchen right now says that “Crystal Sugar has been a flavorful part of a healthy diet and active lifestyle since 1899.”
Does it make it more difficult to find the truth about a substance when it has a propaganda mill behind it? Not really. The World Health Organization, an outift for which I have a lot of respect, made clear recommendations about sugar, among other things. Free sugars, they said, should provide no more than 10% of daily calorie intake. That’s about 20 calories worth for most adults, or 5 grams of sugar. In realistic terms, that is a weekly dessert and no random sugar intake — in other words, no processed foods. Here, for fairness’s sake, is the sugar industry’s response, in a long PDF file.
That file provides the average amount of sugar eaten per person per day in America: 80 grams. The USDA’s food guidelines recommend 20 grams as the upper limit. We know that the USDA guidelines are adjusted to reflect what they feel is a realistic expectation for Americans. That is, they are suggesting a daily dessert, or average consumption of processed foods and no sweets. I usually fall between the WHO and the USDA recommendations, myself.
Basically, human beings’ source of carbohydrates ought to be fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. We don’t need anything else.
We just want pastry. Or Cocoa Pebbles.