Did sugar ruin us?

Here’s an excerpt from On The House, the memoir by former Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner:

Cheers to this tweet for calling my attention to this, via Marginal Revolution. I got Boehner’s book and read it, and found it very illuminating in many ways (his harshest words are for Ted Cruz).

This is from The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, by Edward E. Baptist:

The creation of the first slavery complex, with its “drug foods” – sugar, tobacco, tea, coffee, and chocolate – stimulated Western Europe’s desire to seek out and consume still more resources. The massive Atlantic slave trade required ships, trade commodities, and new structures of credit, and growth spilled over into sectors less directly linked to sugar. Many in Western Europe began to work longer hours in order to get new commodities, in what is sometimes called an eighteenth-century “Industrious Revolution.”

(boldface mine). Other scholars have written about the connection of sugar to capitalism, power, etc.

What if sugar has all of our balls in a vice, to use Boehner’s phrase?

The brain is dependent on sugar as its main fuel,” says Vera Novak, MD, PhD, an HMS associate professor of medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “It cannot be without it.” Although the brain needs glucose, too much of this energy source can be a bad thing.

so we learn over here from Harvard Medical School. My wise dentist called my attention to this as we were discussing why TV writers’ rooms are stocked with candy.

What if we’re trapped in a loop of feeding our brains sugar, and our brains getting bigger and trapping us in a sugar addiction loop? What if that’s what’s really driving capitalism, the whole mess we’re in?

Consider the Biblical tale of the garden of Eden. Adam and Eve are chilling happily there, and God asks them but one thing: don’t eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. What if, instead of being a metaphor, this was meant literally? God was telling the first people don’t eat too much sugar, or your brains will get too big and you’ll ruin everything?

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

This is where it all went wrong. Recall that as punishment for this, Adam is cursed to work:

Cursed is the ground because of you;
    through painful toil you will eat food from it
    all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
    and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
    you will eat your food

And as for Eve:

I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
    with painful labor you will give birth to children.

Human labor is indeed very painful, and why? Because our heads/ brains are so big! Compare with a horse or goat, who can drop a baby and then scamper off, nbd.

Maybe humans never should’ve fucked with sugar, and Genesis actually contains a pretty straightforward origin story for the mistake that led to our predicament. Is it possible to observe the very mistake happening in chimps?

from Tao Lin’s blog:

Maybe our whole deal stems from being trapped in a species-wide sugar addiction.

Now that we’re stuck, we should at least get the good stuff!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.