Big Sugar

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Here are some ways to reduce sugar consumption

by Dr. Sharon Messinger

There’s a long-term war raging for people’s money led by what I call “Big Sugar”.

Sugar is everywhere in the community and it’s cheap compared to healthy foods. It’s time to take control of the food and drinks that are available throughout the Cree Nation. Drinking soda and eating sweets has led to an explosion of diabetes and tooth decay. But why is poor-quality food easily available and healthy food so expensive?

I’ve long been an advocate for healthy food choices but only recently have I understood that the cost of food in the northern communities was making it impossible for anyone to make good choices. Fresh fruits and vegetables are painfully expensive, even if they are available or edible. Soda and junk food is cheap. But we pay a hug cost in our health for this.

There are several things that can be done to change this:

  • Several communities built greenhouses to grow their own vegetables. This is a great concept and should spread. If large greenhouses are too expensive, perhaps smaller ones can be planned.
  • Encourage a return to natural foods and discourage consuming the sugary processed foods and drinks that are doing so much harm. What you eat and drink will affect your health – so take control. Supplying less expensive foods won’t be beneficial if the community doesn’t recognize that sugar is actually a bad thing. I know it tastes good, but it’s an artificial good. It destroys the ability to enjoy natural tastes and it’s addictive. When you’re drinking a Coke, which has so much sugar and acid in it, you’re not going enjoy the taste of a natural sweet fruit because you’re overwhelmed by the artificial chemicals and sugar that you’re drinking.
  • Try to reduce the transportation cost of healthy food and increase these costs for junk food.
  • Develop Indigenous-run food co-ops. The profits and choices should be beneficial to our communities.
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