How appropriate that I heard this Fresh Air interview while driving home from grocery shopping at Costco! I'd just wandered through the aisles noting that (aside from the produce, dairy and meat) about 95% (or more!) of every aisle was made of foods that essentially are sugar (and not on my diet). As far as sugar goes even things that are "healthy" have huge amounts of it… dried fruits, food bars, whole grain this and that, sugar, sugar, and more sugar. Never mind all the more obvious sugar… mega boxes of Lucky Charms, fruit roll ups, coffee drinks…
And then I got in the car and heard this interview about a novel written about a food flavorist, working on a new artificial sweetener in the 1970s. And it got me thinking. It's not just that 95% of the aisles are sugar, a big chunk of them are not actually sugar, but FAKE sugar! I know a lot of people feel like they are being healthy when they substitute low sugar foods for their more sugary alternatives, but most low sugar foods have artificial sweeteners to keep them tasting sweet and appealing to the american pallet. I've avoided fake sugars for over a decade, but this interview made the subject more fresh in my mind once again. Things like possible links to obesity, behavioral changes and more are all questions inheirent in the artificial food debate.
Although it is a fictional novel, the author, Stephan Eirik Clark, clearly did his research and was thoughtful in his way of dealing with the subject matter. It is, as he states, first and foremost a family drama, but the idea that, "flavorings were like gravity or electricity - something that was all around me but that I had never paid any attention to," is central to the creation of this book.
I enjoyed hearing him discussing things such as the history of our relationship with food - taking food as food in the 1970s (Tang = a legitimate beverage), food as science/the future in the 1980s (microwaves in every home), the beginnings of questioning our food and the food industry in the 1990s, to the 2000s and the advent of local and organic as a marketing tool for food. I also thought his comments on his research and the FDA ultimately only caring about cancer and food companies testing for little else illuminating. His comments on an awareness of what chemicals we are putting into the bloodstreams of our children rang true with my "we literally ARE what we eat," view of the matter. I definitely plan to read this book - Sweetness #9 -which will be out tomorrow! Give the interview a listen yourself and see what you think.