Saturday, July 17, 2010


They tantalize with seductive promises to taste like sugar but without the calories. Without the spike in blood sugar. Without the guilt. And they deliver, sort of, if you can stand the metallic flavor that dances on your tongue long after the tart sweetness fades away. They are, of course, artificial sweeteners. 

Now there's a new book (well, actually, it's due for release in September but you can order an advance copy now) with the title Empty Pleasures: the Story of Articifial Sweeteners from Saccharine to Splenda. 

According to the author, saccharine, the result of an accidental laboratory laboratory by-product, was first seen as an adulterant. But when its profit potential became apparent, it was introduced to the public at the 1893 World's Fair. From there the reader goes on to learn about the public reaction, and how the cause was taken up by women's magazine editors and public relations mavens. Nearly 300 pages long, the book offers a leisurely journey through the stories of the many sweeteners to follow, including NutraSweet, Equal, and Splenda.

Food producers and pharmaceutical companies have worked together for over a century to weave these products into our daily lives. We need to better understand what they actually are, how they work, and how they affect our health. We also need to raise our own awareness about how they are marketed to us and our families. It seems that this book might help.

Artificial sweeteners cost food companies less than natural sweeteners. It's no wonder then, that they push products that contain artificial sweeteners as "lite" or "low calorie". These products are highly profitable. In the past ten years more than 4,000 new food products containing artificial sweeteners were introduced in the American marketplace. In the meantime, even though most people purchase these products for purposes of weight loss, a 2004 study coming out of the University of Texas found that they actually contribute to obesity.

The author of this book is Carolyn de la Pena, a professor of American Studies at the University of California - Davis. This is one of the most important land grant schools in the US. She would have had access to tons of information normally not available to the average person. We owe her a big Thank You for sharing this important information.

Ordering information: Empty Pleasures is published by the University of North Carolina Press.  
 ISBN  978-0-8078-3409-1d. $32.50 cloth bound. 296 pages. 

1 comment:

Books and Manual said...

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