For my theme I have chosen to look at sugar and the love we have of it, in fact the craving we have for it and the increasing amount we consume. I will be exploring several angles and ideas as my research continues.
Sugar is mainly marketed to the consumer in two ways:
1) By making the consumer aware of it. In these instances sugar is openly advertised and the taste virtue is highly and visibly promoted. Look at this lolly stall I came across recently at a ferry wharf. I was, along with the majority of others in the terminal, initially drawn to the vibrancy of the colours, the clear and crisp individual packaging of some items, the shapes and sizes of the confections and those wonderful ‘hygienic’ domed perspex covers ensuring I would be buying a product that had been kept in the best possible conditions.
The stand was beautifully presented. Just look at all the sweeties so nicely presented and arranged in neat lines within their sections, the tongs standing to attention beside each selection and those enormous pinwheels splaying out from the centre post. I was desperate to buy something, I was hooked. Luckily common sense took over and I restrained myself.
Of course, another way we are aware of our sugar intake is through both baking and buying sweet treats. Nothing is hidden there. We can easily see how much goes into our cake baking or check the cake or biscuit packet.
2) By not drawing attention to sugar content.
Here things change a little. Sugar is added to many, many processed items which we don’t really think about. Unless you are a label checker when purchasing tinned goods you may not realise just how much sugar, sugar-like product or sweetener you are consuming. Heaven help the poor diabetics amongst us who have to monitor their intake carefully.
Sugar is also naturally occurring in many fruits and vegetables but I’m not going to explore this aspect or the differences between fructose, sucrose and so on. What interests me is the sweeter taste of food that we gravitate towards however this may be achieved – be it through natural means or additives.
Just for reference, the label on my can of baby beets states there is 12.7% sugar content. The ingredients state beetroot, water, high fructose corn syrup, vinegar, salt, natural flavour.
My on-line dictionary defines fructose as:
Chemistry, Pharmacology . a yellowish to white, crystalline, water-soluble, levorotatory ketose sugar, C 6 H 12 O 6 , sweeter than sucrose, occurring in invert sugar, honey, and a great many fruits: used in foodstuffs and in medicine chiefly in solution as an intravenous nutrient.
It goes on to say:
A very sweet sugar occurring in many fruits and honey and used as a preservative for foodstuffs and as an intravenous nutrient. Also called fruit sugar , levulose.
Fructose linked to glucose is the structure of table sugar, or sucrose. Fructose is an important source of energy for cellular processes.
So, whatever the sweetener is, whether it is naturally occurring or not, we have the taste for it and I’m going to explore that idea. This is just my initial rambling and I’ll be posting more as I define more closely where I’m going with this.
Photos by Claire Brach at Manly Ferry Wharf, with kind permission of the stall holder.
Baby Beets, drawn by Claire Brach. Edgell products and company information can be found at http://www.edgell.com.au