Yesterday, the National Post ran a story about a report in Nature that suggests sugar is toxic. It’s so bad, says the research journal, that the government might want to restrict the sale of soda pop to those who are at 17-years-old. That would put sugar in the same latitude of evil as alcohol and tobacco. And like those other two harbingers of depravity, sugar is everywhere: from sweet, colourful cereals to candy, fast food and sports drinks. But the real target of the report seems to be soda pop.
To be honest, I don’t know how much I’d miss soda pop if my access to it was restricted. Besides a two-times-a-year ginger-ale craving (on ice), and also a fling with root beer floats every summer, I don’t drink the stuff. In fact, up until a few years ago I assumed other adults didn’t either. I thought it was just kids and teenagers who were buying cans of carbonated sweetness from vending machines and ungodly large plastic bottles of pop from variety stores. And, I’m embarrassed to admit, there have even been moments in my arrogant youth when I’ve felt just slightly superior to adults who drink anything other than normal adult beverages, like water (sparkling or still) or wine (any kind, really, except for crappy kinds) with dinner.
What changed? First, just as a matter of principle, those drinking from glass bottles of wine shouldn’t throw rocks at adult pop drinkers. And second, I started noticing that people I care a great deal about, adult people, drink a great deal of pop. Colleagues, for example, drink it at all times of the day, including suppertime. And it’s not uncommon for some east coast friends to indulge in “a pop and a bar” for breakfast. But the big revelation came when my father, the very man who taught me about the pleasures of drinking wine with food, confessed to enjoying a periodic glass of pop with dinner.
I still think it’s weird. (But who am I to judge? Besides, maybe if I had more of a sweet tooth, and wasn’t so sensitive to carbonation, I might enjoy pop as much as I enjoy wine and used to enjoy cigarettes.) But now that sugar is officially toxic, I can play the health card when trying not to judge my loved ones who drink too much pop–instead of the, “Yucky! Why would you want to wash down dinner with Diet Coke?” card.
Funny thing is, just a few pages away in that very same National Post there was a little world note pointing out that one of the Costa Concordia’s shipwreck survivors spent 36 hours partly submerged in cold water with a broken leg trying to help his fellow passengers escape to safety. He survived on a soggy panino, a sip of cognac, and a bottle of Coca-Cola.