The present policy on sugars in the Co-op was developed to support healthy eating habits and global food politics. This is outlined in the pro and con statements following the ballot question, which reads:
“Shall the Co-op be allowed to carry refined sugars* and products containing refined sugars for their members that choose to buy them?”
* “Refined” refers to sugars such as brown sugar, date sugar, and white sugar currently not allowed under the present policy that was passed by member vote in the Spring of 1981. The previous policy allows the sale of turbinado, fructose, honey, and unrefined sugars such as molasses, barely malt, and various syrups, but disallows all other refined sugars such as date sugar, raw brown sugar, and white sugar.
IN FAVOR OF CHANGE
The Co-op receives many requests for certain products which contain sugars including Hagen-Daz and Double Rainbow Ice Creams, some seltzer brands and sauces like horseradish. We also get occasional requests for white and brown sugars in bulk.
There are some ethnic and specialty foods that are very difficult for people to get in Olympia, which contain disallowed sugars. There are good reasons to carry these products, including our own Mission statement and recent goals about increasing the diversity of the Co-op membership. Carrying products like our “Kosher for Passover” line, some of which contain sugar, helps to meet these goals.
Our current policy is contradictory. It leaves people with the impression that some sugars are bad and others are good. Many parents support the sugar restrictions because they feel like they can let their children select any treats in the store and those treats will be relatively healthy. It’s true that none of our treats contain white sugar, but that does not make them healthy per se. Children can and do get a sugar rush from honey (so do adults) or too many oranges for that matter. None of this means that white or other refined sugars are good for you. They aren’t. Some people fear that relaxing the sugar policy will fill the Co-op with Pepsi and Snickers. The irony of the current sugar policy is that we could sell the “new” Coke. It’s sweetened with high fructose corn sweetener.
Different people, however, have different tolerances for all substances. Different people also have different tastes and desires concerning their diets. A tolerance policy does not force people to eat things they do not choose to. It merely makes it possible for all of us to choose for ourselves.
By Eileen Watt Smith