Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Sometimes, when you take a step off your soapbox and look at the world around you, you realize that it’s not all about you.  That’s exactly what I did this morning when I read this article.

So … apparently the joke’s not just on us. And actually, the joke’s not just on the sugar industry in general. It just so happens that the joke is finally on the American consumer.

The agricultural industry is fairly criticized as constantly talking about facts in these “food vs. fuel,” “slow food,” “corn is causing obesity” discussions that we find all around us, instead of the emotions behind the concern. Research tells us that saying that we’re growing food for a hungry world isn’t a good argument because consumers honestly *feel* like someone is pulling the wool over their eyes and no one is being genuine with them about the food production chain.

But here’s where the rubber might finally meet the road.

Agriculture has been telling the world over and over that if we don’t use modern food production methods, people are going to go hungry. Leaders in the humanitarian effort have praised the use of modern agricultural methods for feeding third world countries and lessoning the impacts on the environment. Still, consumers are skeptical.

Let me connect the dots for you one last time.

Modern agriculture allows us to produce enough food to feed a growing world population. If the world wants agriculture to operate as it did in the 1920s, we’re going to have yields just like we did in the 1920s. And things were a lot tougher in the 20s so, get ready.

Consumers have thrown a mini temper tantrum over the use of high fructose corn syrup in their foods and have used buying power to convert many products over to the same old table sugar that you’ve known and loved for decades. At the same time, you’ve voted in administrations that are so concerned about the environment that they won’t allow GMO sugar beets to be grown. That means no sugar supply because growing “sugar” like we did in the 1920s yields a lot less sugar. Get ready.

And all this despite science that proves that we’re not hurting the environment and that high fructose corn syrup doesn’t actually make you any fatter than regular old sugar. You wanted it, you’re getting it. Get ready.

Turns out you can’t have your (table sugar) cake and eat it too.

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Project Coordinator

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