The Sustainability Student...Adam Chiaravalle Cares Edition 4

August 26, 2016 at 13:28 pm

Saturday night while most of my friends were down in Hess Village, I was watching the Mini Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. The episode I was watching had Pooh on a honey boat sailing down a honey river headed to Honey Island… if that is not a one way trip to flavour town then I don’t know what is. That blessed cub consumes copious amounts of honey simply because he loves the taste. As people of the developed world, we tend to get our sweetness fix from a well know cash crop known as Sugar.

Instead of the fertile land in the developing world being used to feed the more than one billion people who are in chronic hunger, this land is devoted to growing sugar cane for export so we can eat ice cream, doughnuts, chocolate, soda pop and the list goes on. Additionally, the working conditions on these sugar cane plantations are horrendous. For example, since the 1980’s over 30 thousand people have died on sugar plantations in Central America due to being overworked and heat exhaustion. One wonders at what point the simple addition of sweetness to our food became more valuable than the lives of those harvesting the sugar cane. The sad reality is that as our consumption increases, so too does the demand and with increased demand the plantations will chase increased profit by any means necessary.

The human race over time has taken selfishness to incomprehensible levels with the constant pursuit of possessing more. What really gets me is that no matter how many wicked stories I hear about how brutal humans can be to one another I am never really surprised. What is there to do in a world such as ours where unimaginable injustice happens every minute, how can we be brave enough to face what goes on? 

Starting off is always the hardest and this is true for the first step in any journey. No matter how daunting it may seem to lessen sugar production we have to realize exactly how much we can control. What we can control is actually quite a lot, as we can reduce our personal sugar consumption, which when multiplied over an entire population means growing less sugar cane. When you’re dealing with mass injustice no contribution is too small. If you need to find motivation to cut back on sugar consumption, consider exactly where that sugar is coming from. Take into consideration the brutal conditions a worker may have had to endure just to support their family or the children that may be malnourished because far too much agricultural land is being used to grow sugar cane

Practically speaking, we can only control what is within our reach. We do not have to have this ‘beat the system’ mentality all the time and we can always choose to extend our reach if we desire. Start off small, limit your sugar consumption and try to educate yourself on exactly where it is coming from. Reducing sugar intake is actually quite easy with alternatives such as maple syrup and honey. In fact, maple syrup and honey are much better than sugar as their sweetness comes with a more complex and enjoyable flavour.

If you do not believe that honey and maple syrup are better tasting than sugar, try eating a teaspoon of sugar and then do the same with honey and maple syrup. If you want to save yourself the agony of taking a shot of sugar I will describe what you would have experienced. A teaspoon of raw sugar has tongue numbing, mind chilling, and intellect crippling flavour. On the other hand, honey and maple syrup have a sweet southing and thought provoking flavour. If you are up for having a good time try four teaspoons of honey or maple syrup, you will go to the moon and back. In addition to honey and maple syrup having a tremendous flavour profile, by using them as your sweetener you are not a part of the sugar system that contributes to some pretty serious injustices.

Finally, we should all consider ourselves lucky to live in Ontario because we have incredible access to maple syrup and honey. There are not many people in the world who have this privilege. The thing is, it is almost our responsibility to utilize this privilege and make the most out of these natural sweeteners. Helping the poorest communities in the world and living a more sustainable lifestyle is as easy as having honey and maple syrup instead of sugar. I wonder if people in the developed world would be willing to make this sacrifice? 

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