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March 2007
Goin’ Nuts for Donuts
By Amie Breeze Harper

 

The slogan, “America runs on Dunkin” scares the hell out of me. Being “nourished” on donuts and lattes isn’t something to be proud of. I often witness friends and colleagues becoming depressed, restless and irritable when they don’t get their morning coffee and pastry. Wait a minute...aren’t these the same traits of a drug “addict” in need of a fix?

I used to eat at least 10 donuts a week, and then mysteriously wonder why I was suffering from highs and lows, apathy, paranoia and depression. It wasn’t until I read Carol Simontacchi’s The Crazy Makers: How the Food Industry is Destroying Our Brains and Harming Our Children, that I realized it was my addiction to sugar drenched [un]foods causing severe disharmony with my brain chemistry. I was a sugar addict! I was literally “goin’ nuts” for donuts.

William Dufty, author of Sugar Blues, was convinced that yearly increases in sucrose (refined cane sugar) and beet sugar consumption are the reason why bipolar depression and schizophrenia have drastically risen among the population. We have taken away fertile land in order to grow a plant in which the end product for a majority of people in the U.S. is a “crazy making” nutritionally deficient substance. Dufty argues that sugar might as well be “dope.” He notes:

It was not until I visited the South for the first time that a girl turned me onto something called ‘dope.’ They served it at soda fountains with lots of crushed ice, vanilla flavoring, syrup, and soda.


A Slave to Sugar
Both Dufty and Sidney Mintz, author of Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History, theorize that the African slave trade started because of sucrose. Starting in the 1700s, civil unrest and legalized slavery coincided with growing and harvesting sugar. My ancestors were viciously torn from their homes and shipped to the Caribbean and Americas to chop cane for sucrose and rum addicted Europeans. Even today, cane laborers are living on “barely there” wages just so we can get our fix.

But addiction is another form of slavery. As Derrick Jensen notes in Endgame Vol 1: The Problem of Civilization, “To be addicted is to be a slave. To be a slave is to be addicted.” Sadly, descendents of those originally enslaved to harvest sugar cane—Africans and indigenous Americans—are now enslaved in a different way: as consumers of sucrose and sucrose products. This sugar palate—along with other nutritionally dead foods such as bleached white flour—has helped foster an astronomical rise in health disparities. As John Robbins alludes in “Racism, Food and Health,” obesity, heart disease and diabetes in African American, Latino and indigenous communities far outshine health statistics of white America.

My question is, what does it mean that significant portions of the world’s “most powerful” nation are sugar-addicted slaves?

Runnin’ on Dunkin
The majority of Americans are sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, and caffeine dependent. Sugar consumption has gone from ten pounds per year per person in 1821 to 160 pounds today. Sucrose is a toxin with no nutritional value, yet sugar cultivation consumes thousands of acres of land. What nourishing foods could these acres potentially grow, if sugar cane were no longer in high demand? Are we too nuts and too addicted to see clearly, to see past the next fix? Dufty writes:

I am confident that Western medicine will one day admit what has been known in the Orient for years: sugar is without question the number one murderer in the history of humanity—much more lethal than opium or radioactive fallout...

So, I dare you. Go ahead, have another donut, another latte. That’s right. Fuckin’ go nuts.



 

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