Rooting for cane sugar.

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

Growing up in a sixties Ohio white bread environment doesn’t do a lot to provide you with an understanding of what food is good for you (after all, they test-marketed Pringles where I lived) and, well, besides, good information on nutrition seems to have evolved at about the same rate as the commercial food industry has taken mass-market food down a path toward high-fructose artificiality.

But after reading Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma a couple of years ago, my growing concerns about the evils of high fructose corn syrup—in terms of what it does nutritionally, what it does ecologically, and well, it just doesn’t taste that good—reached enough of a threat level that I steer clear of it as much as possible…in everything.

So even my longtime favorites like Heinz Ketchup (for example) have given way to Trader Joe’s Organic Ketchup—not for any huge desire for organicness as much as to get back to a better-tasting cane sugar flavored product.

And the last time a huge tree hit the house, I was regularly buying IBC Root Beer—but I now try and make sure any rooty goodness is sweetened the old fashioned way. Yeah, internally, I know it is better for me…but I think I’m really doing it for the taste. Last summer, I enjoyed an old central Ohio favorite, Frostop Root Beer, while in upper Michigan…but it has that HFCS stuff, but I’m not so much of an absolutist that I didn’t give it a try—and I enjoyed it. So I drink it up there, but I deduct points.

You know, those mythical “points.”

So I was delighted today to see a six-pack of Abita Root Beer at a grocery store down off of Caroline Street, and I’m here to tell you, it is darned tasty on a summer’s morning. In a recent New York Times piece rating root beers, it came in third…right behind my old favorite IBC and its HFCS sweetening. Would IBC and Frostop taste better if they switched (or switched back to) to cane sugar? I sure think so. Will they do it just because I ask politely? Mmm, probably not.