Mon. Apr 15th, 2024

This information comes from a film review in World Ark magazine the Jan./Feb. 2009 issue pg. 38. The film is The Price of Sugar: How Much Is Too Much? by Bill Haney, narrated by Paul Newman, Uncommon Productions 2006. More info

Haiti and the Dominican Republic share a Caribbean Island off the cost off Cuba. The Dominican Republic is touted as a tropical paradise for travelers. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. The Dom. Rep. is the largest supplier of sugar to the U.S. (Do you suppose the difference is that Haiti is on the Cuba side of the island? I don’t know, it may just be coincidence. Another thing to look into.)

Huge sugar plantations, totaling about a quarter of a million acres, rely on the labor of Haitian migrant workers. These desperately poor people are promised work at good wages and end up living in barracks surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards. Their plight is given a blind eye due to the importance of the crop to the Dominican economy and because of the influence the wealthy plantation owners have .

As sugar consumers we subsidize this kind of activity. In addition, as consumers of industrialized foods we have become addicted to sweeter and sweeter foods. I know I don’t make much of an impact in all this, but about a year ago I stopped bringing sugar into my home, because if it was there I would eat it. I still use a substitute but I hope to change that too. I am going to try growing Stevia.

Stevia is a plant that can be used as a sweetener by grinding the dried leaves or making an infusion. If nothing else this might help to remind me of the problems in the agriculture of sugar, as well as the effects of sugar and other sweeteners (can you say high fructose corn syrup?) on our diet and health.

A friend of mine owns a retail operation that is struggling. He recently cut his hours to reduce operating costs, but at the same time gave his employees a raise. Why? He said; “If I can’t pay my staff a living wage, I shouldn’t be in business”. Should we (Americans) who pay a smaller percentage of our income on food than other countries (US 9.9%, Italy & France 14.9% , Spain 17.1%) continue to get fat and unhealthy at the cost of the lives and welfare of others? I don’t think so.

I am trying to wean myself off the processed food like substances in the typical US diet and back onto the real foods that my Mom raised me on. I’m trying to be more aware of where I buy my food and where I eat out. When I crave a Twinkie I try to remember that it is a super processed food-like substance that has been formulated in the lab to excite certain receptors in my brain and make me crave for more. (Maybe we should call them Drug-like foodstuffs.) And they are made at the destruction of an agricultural heritage that I cherish, and the livelihoods of people all over the world.

By AFarmer

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Ye Olde Scribe
14 years ago

Because there was a skirt involved, Scribe once goofed and started growing Steve-ia, but he got slapped. Scribe said, “but you were wearing a skirt, so I thought…” Scribe was unhappy because he found the plumbing a little too familiar.

Oh, you typed “Stevia!”

Never mind.

Ken Carman
14 years ago

Scribe, stop pestering Ana. Your tongue in cheek stuff can be annoying. Plus, you don’t want to wind up back in the hospital getting another emergency tongue-extract-ectomy, do you?

Sugar is a definite problem, as is corn sugar and corn syrup. My father… cringe… had a lot to do with that. Corn syrup is in everything, as are corn products… including gas… and when we rely so much on one crop, well that’s not a good thing.

I remember the sugar being center table and used liberally at home, and when we visited relatives. That’s even after Dad found out he had diabetes. He even “got donuts for his dog” I was told up to the day he went into shock and wound up on a malfunctioning floor furnace.

Addictive? Oh, yes. Once I get anything growing here I may try myself. Been years since I’ve used corn sugars/syrup or refined sugar… except they put corn sugar in packets of the artificial stuff of all kinds (Not sure about stevia.) How they get away with that while handing it out to diabetics, I don’t know.

RS Janes
14 years ago

I just found out that a favorite brand of pickles that is packaged locally has High Fructose Corn Syrup in it. Bummerooski. I try to stay away from HFCS and other food additives, and don’t eat much sugar, except that which comes naturally in beer, of course. I also don’t eat any sugar substitutes, as I’ve heard they are as bad as HFCS.

Forutnately, I’ve lost the sweet tooth I had in my youth; I prefer sour or bitter tastes more these days, so I’m not really giving up much.

I’m not sure if I subscribe to the conspiracy theory I’ve read that Big Agra, like cigarette makers, are adding an addictive chemical to sweeteners of all types, but there is no doubt that sweet things are addictive for many people.

BTW, did you know that the poverty-stricken Dominican Republic has the largest number of prostitutes in the Western Hemisphere, and it’s effectively legal there? It’s like the Thailand of the West. I’ve read that wealthy Americans book junkets to visit underage hookers in the DR, both male and female. (You might recall a few years ago that Rush Limbaugh was stopped by customs returning from the DR carrying prescription Viagra bottles in someone else’s name and boxes of prophylactics in his carry-on bag. Gee, I wonder what he was up to?)

Poverty, ignorance and underage prostitution — another IMF ‘success’ story.

Ken Carman
14 years ago


I have to watch packages carefully. It’s almost impossible to find canned kidney beans without loads of sugar/corn syrup etc. But it can be found. Canned corn and peas almost always have some form of sugar in them. You have to go for the no sodium/or low sodium… and that’s no sure bet. It’s obvious the cane sugar/corn syrup (etc.) is not necessary to the canning process.

The dried stuff is tough to cook. I buy kidney beans, follow pre-soak instructions… or even go overboard with pre-cooking and extended periods and I usually wind up with crunch or mush.

For the rest I get frozen.

Conspiracy? I’m guessing it’s cheap and most consumers like the taste so they’ll buy that brand more. Of course some of these may be diabetic or borderline hypoglycemic like me. And unless they follow labels they’re endangering themselves.

I think I smell a future lawsuit somewhere, some time.

RS Janes
14 years ago

Of course, if you’d want to find dairy products with no BGH or added antibiotics you’re out of luck — those things won’t be listed on the label. And nearly every label says ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ but those claims are practically meaningless these days. Thank you, Republicans. (Although some Dems are responsible as well.)

Ken Carman
14 years ago

I miss un-homogenized, un-pasteurized milk. The more pasteurized it is, the more it tastes like cardboard. I had to stop buying from one of our stores here because in small print I figured out why the milk I had just bought tasted like I was chewing on a box: “ultra pasteurized.” (Yeah, I know, they have to worry less about storage that way. But must everything be skewed towards price, cost… rather than taste?) As long as it’s kept refrigerated and conditions are sanitary, it can be quite healthy. In the rush to get cheap food sources in bulk, we’ve lost so much. Look at the cases of salmonella that keep cropping up like the great spinach scare. Cooking meat rare; even burgers, was not always taking your life in your own hands. Once again: processing… amongst other things along the line.

Sounds like another Ana column, especially if she can offer first hand experience of how to keep where we keep our cattle, chickens and process our crops from contributing to this. I’ll bet there are a lot of horror stories.

RS Janes
14 years ago

Ana, you’re lucky. Where I live, the only milk that comes in a glass bottle and is guaranteed to be untainted with chemicals comes from a dairy owned by a wouldbe Republican politician — Jim Oberweis.

We’ve bought it before, but it’s horrendously expensive. There is one other ‘natural, organic’ dairy and we’ve bought their products as well, but their stuff is expensive too. Luckily, we usually only use milk for cereal and cooking, so we don’t need much. The prices are a crime compared to what dairy farmers are paid for the raw milk, from what I’ve been told.

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