The average person doesn’t have a clue about the damage caused by the production of sugar. As a global example, in Australia – the production of sugar and its toxic runoff has been linked to the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef. The production of sugar is affecting the air, soil, water, and biodiversity of species throughout the planet. Reducing the amount of sugar consumed will not only impact your health, it will also greatly impact the preservation of our planet. Let’s learn more about this issue.
What’s not sweet about sugar?
Sugar is found in high levels throughout our diet, and is increasingly a source of biofuels and bioplastics. Sugarcane production often pollutes freshwater ecosystems, soil, and changes the biodiversity around farms and production facilities. In Florida, which produces the majority of sugar grown in the US, decades of sugar production have caused numerous environmental impacts. Sugar is not only detrimental to the planet, it is also detrimental to our health. High-sugar diets have been associated with an increased risk of many diseases – including heart disease and diabetes – and is a direct link to adult and childhood obesity.
Facts About Sugar Production:
- Sugarcane covers 65 million acres of land worldwide.
- 900,000 acres of sugarcane are harvested yearly in the United States, generating over one billion U.S. dollars in annual revenue.
- 213 gallons of water are needed to produce one pound of refined cane sugar.
- In Florida, tens of thousands of acres of the Everglades have been converted from sub-tropical forests to lifeless marshland, due to excessive fertilizer run-off and silt.
- 62% of the polluting phosphorus that flows toward the Everglades comes from water draining off farmland dominated by sugar cane.
- It is estimated that by 2050, growers will need to cultivate almost 50% more land to meet global sugar demand.
- Sugar has arguably had as great an impact on the environment as any other agricultural commodity.
- The average American consumes 71 grams of added sugar daily.
- The World Health Organization recommends that less than 5% of calories should come from added sugar; which equals less than 25 grams for a 2,000 calorie diet.
- It has been estimated that approximately 1 in 5 children across the country are living with pre-diabetes conditions.
How can I make an impact?
Action 1: Global Goodness
- By eating more whole foods, you will greatly reduce the amount of sugar consumed from processed and packaged goods.
- Read food labels – research alternative names for sugar to lower your intake. (Fructose, glucose, lactose, maltodextrin and dextrose are just a few names for sugar).
- Reduce the amount of pasteurized juices and sodas you consume by drinking more water.
Action 2: Planet Protector
- All of Action 1.
- Monitor your sugar intake for one week and see where you stand. Work toward cutting your sugar intake in half.
- Choose alternatives to sugar such as molasses, honey or real maple syrup.
- Support restaurants that promote a farm to table approach to dining. The fresher the food, the less added sugar involved.
- If you bake, cut the amount of sugar you use in recipes by substituting unsweetened applesauce.
Action 3: Earth Angel
- All of Actions 1 & 2.
- Remove processed sugar completely.
- Support initiatives such as the Better Sugar Cane Initiative and BullSugar.org who are working diligently to reduce the environmental impact of sugar production.
- Contact your local congressman to improve environmental regulations on sugar production.