On the news this morning was a discussion about whether restaurants should provide a jug of tap water on the tables for their customers to encourage us to shy away from sugary drinks when going out to eat and whether people were embarrassed to ask for tap water and felt obliged to order a drink from the menu.
Most of us know by now that sugar has become a serious problem (unless you live under a rock) with it being added to so many foods that, unless you cook everything from scratch or are extremely vigilant in your label reading, your intake is going to be considerably higher than even the most generous recommended intake. I saw that a well known company is promoting its “gluten free” breakfast cereals recently and had a quick shufty at the list of ingredients for their honey flakes (as you know, the ingredients on the label are listed in order of amount, highest first): maize, brown sugar, sugar, dextrose, salt, honey, caramelised sugar syrup (blah vitamins). In other words: maize, sugar, sugar, salt, sugar, sugar and vitamins.
Is it me, or is this whole “sugar tax” missing the point?
Perhaps, instead of penalising the general public for purchasing things bursting with unhealthy sugars, they should be looking at penalising the manufacturers for adding it in the first place? Or how about imposing a proper tax on sugar and its byproducts to make it less attractive to the manufacturers so that they stop bulking up their products to make them taste better (supposedly)? How about financially encouraging manufacturers who keep their products additive free?
In an ideal world we’d all cook everything from scratch and be able to source reasonably priced organic ingredients, together with additive free products easily but, yet again, we’re having to fight against the monstrous conglomerates who thinks it’s acceptable to slowly poison us with substandard chemical rubbish and bulk out our foods with sugar to make them “taste better”. There are weeks when I’m organised and bulk cook at the weekends so that I can simply take something out of the freezer in the morning and enjoy a proper home cooked meal in the evenings when I get home from work, but there are weeks when my skills go on holiday and I just want to get something reasonably quick that I haven’t cooked myself.
Ready meals go through extensive taste testing with blind tasters to make sure the meals taste as good as possible. They add sugar in increasing amounts until the “bliss point” is reached, i.e., the point at which the product is sweet enough without being too sweet. How ridiculous is that? And is it just me that finds the term “bliss point” slightly sinister? With the worldwide trading we have today it should be simple to put natural herbs and spices in there to make it taste like food, instead of a sugar pot? I do have ready meals in my freezer for the odd occasion when (quite frankly) I can’t be arsed, but I read the labels avidly before I purchase anything to make sure I’m not getting anything unacceptable. Not many people seem to do this – they look at the picture, think it looks nice and put it in the trolley.
It could be argued that we should be more careful about what we buy and vote with our feet but, sadly, that’s never going to happen. Most folk don’t have the time and energy for it and will continue to buy whatever is cheapest and the most simple to make. And they’ll carry on piling on the pounds because of all the added sugar they’re consuming.
Isn’t it about time someone held the manufacturers accountable for all this damage that’s being done?