The rise of sugar as a regular staple in households worldwide is a fascinating example of how the world’s food has changed significantly. Sugar, once a highly coveted luxury item, is now the opposite – available in high volumes in every packaged good sold on the shelves of corner markets globally. The history of sugar demonstrates the “social, political, and economic power” (Robbins, 219) all working together to promote the increased consumption of a food, regardless of the clear negative impacts.
Robbins points out a few interesting societal contributions to the success of sugar and emphasizes that “the cultural and social constraints of time and cost created in the urban, industrial setting combined with the convenience of sugar” (219) created a perfect storm for the processed additive to thrive. It’s interesting to take a deep look at how developments in society have popularized a commodity.
This story has then repeated itself throughout the negative food history of the world, from microwave TV dinners, to fast food, to meal replacement bars. All targeted to those people and families with limited time, each was welcomed with highly-polished advertisements that created the same luxury shine that sugar formerly had: they quickly satisfy hunger but do not offer complete or lasting nutrition. This continued cultural acceptance of a quick fix is one major reason health and nutrition issues now plague most societies moving into a broader middle class.
Image source: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2017/01/13/hidden-added-sugar_n_14148162.html