WILMINGTON — In recent weeks, agriculture professor Dr. Donald Chafin has been hanging plastic bags containing a half pound of sugar on bulletin boards throughout Wilmington College’s campus. The agricultural economist said each bag represents the amount of sugar “added by the food industry” to the diets of Americans each day.
“That half pound per day translates into about 150 pounds of sugar in a year’s time,” he said. “That is equivalent to three 50-pound horse feed bags for every man, woman and child each and every year,” Chafin said.
“At that level of consumption, sugar is a toxic poison!”
The College’s 7th Food Symposium will delve into all things sugar Wednesday, March 30 during its annual daylong program looking at aspects of food. Devised using the theme “Sugar Rushed,” the program will feature a combination of film, food, fun and informed opinions on one of nature’s sweetest and, in recent years, most controversial products.
Chafin said that, especially for the past 40 years, America literally has been on a sugar binge and, by 2030, a whopping 117 million Americans will be sickened with diabetes and, with numbers like that, the other half of the population will be called upon to help pay their medical bills.
Of special interest to college students, Chafin cited a UCLA study noting one-third of 18 to 39-year-olds in the United States are “pre-diabetic” — and without intervention, 70 percent will develop diabetes and be at risk of blindness, heart disease, kidney failure, poor health and premature death.
On a psychological level, sugar possesses much of the same allure as nicotine and opiates, causing many persons to crave sugar — making it one of nature’s great paradoxes as both a sweet treat and deadly obsession.
Dr. Victoria DeSensi, assistant professor of psychology, cited Kelly McGonigal’s The Willpower Instinct in addressing the attraction of sugar.
“When we consume, encounter or just think about sugar, dopamine, a chemical messenger in the brain, is released and tells the brain it must obtain that rewarding, sugary sweet,” she said, noting that one’s body is on guard in recognizing that sugar and fat will produce a major spike in blood sugar.
“Therefore, a psychological response kicks in and prevents you from gorging yourself on the sugar by producing a natural drop in blood sugar — leaving one cranky and craving the sugar all the more.”
More often than not, one’s willpower succumbs to the temptation of cookies, candy and the sugar-coated and sugar-infused foods that line the grocers’ shelves.
Day of perspectives
The Food Symposium will view sugar from many perspectives — history, business ethics, health and nutrition, social justice and, yes, tasting it.
The day will open in Hugh G. Heiland Theatre with a screening of Michele Hozer’s Canadian documentary film, Sugar-Coated, from 10 to 11:40 a.m., followed by a food expo in which agriculture professor Dr. Tom Stilwell’s World Foods class will share dishes made from a variety of sugar crops in the Quaker Heritage Center from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Also, from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m., Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden’s Pollen Nation will be staffing an information table in Boyd Lobby.
Again this year, the symposium will have a student focus in both planning and presentation, as an interdisciplinary, student research panel will present its finidings on all things sugar: history, marketing, nutrition, etc., from 1 to 2 p.m., in the McCoy Room of Kelly Center. Also, a sugar cube sculpture competition will be featured in which contestants can create sculptures out of sugar cubes, using no more than three ingredients: sugar cubes, glue and a coloring of choice. To register for the sugar cube sculpture contest, visit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FJGCHNZ
On the heels of past symposium competitions featuring pies, cakes and cookies, this year’s contest, which is open to both the campus and community, will highlight candy-making.
Categories include: dipped/covered (such as buckeyes and truffles), pulled/hard/gummies (taffy, rock candy), brittles/barks/toffee bars, diabetic friendly, caramels/fudge/pralines and novelty (specially design such as candies for holidays). Each entry must include a list of ingredients as a precaution for persons allergic to various nuts or other ingredients. The registration form can be found at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HCPYLJV. The audience will be able to sample contest entries from 2:15 to 3:15 p.m. in the McCoy Room.
The symposium will culminate with a panel highlighting “Sugar and Wellness” featuring professionals speaking on nutrition, diabetes, activity and low-sugar cooking, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., in the McCoy Room.
All Food Symposium events are free of charge.