in which sugar and cookies take over my day in more than one way

I was having a discussion with 2 friends of mine about the so called Berkeley bubble and how we feel so removed from events going on in the real world. ie the state of politics and foreign affairs, blah blah…the things real adults might find important. That evening, Sunday I believe, I log onto NY times as a responsible citizen eager to learn about current events. What is the first thing I see? An article about the republican bake sale. (In a nutshell, they decided to have a bake sale where prices where based upon your race, gender, etc, with things costing $2 for a white male, or 1.50 if you are a woman, .25 cents for minorities, etc etc.) The irony being, that I decided to find out about real world issues and the most pressing thing is Berkeley related.

This bake sale was yesterday, and caused quite the brouhaha. (yes, i have always wanted to use that word!) Of course I had to go see what it was all about. In addition to the republican sale, there were people giving out free baked goods, free hugs, and of course a protest ensued with people laying down all over sproul plaza. Regardless of whether this bake sale was right or wrong, I have to say it was a pretty witty way to garner attention and show opposition to the affirmative action bill. I mean, NY times, CNN, a protest…the left their mark for sure. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get close enough to the table to a) see the baked goods or b) see how much I would be charged for one. ah well, thats why free cookies were being handed out.

Later yesterday, in my edible education class, Robert Lustig MD, a researcher from UCSF came to lecture about childhood obestity and nutrition and whatnot. His main argument: sugar is toxic, addictive, and evil in every way shape or form. why? because sugar, unlike other carbohydrates is metabolized differently by the body. most of it goes to your liver. So regardless of if its high fructose corn syrup, or fructose or sucrose, its toxic, poison, addictive, don’t eat it you will die. It can cause insulin resistance, and lead to diabetes or metabolic syndrome because your liver freaks out from the mass amounts of substance it has to metabolize into glucose. I suppose this is similar to alcohol and how the liver metabolizes that. Now I am sitting there in my seat after eating mostly cookies and frozen yogurt all day (thanks to the bake sale and working right next to cream and celebrating finishing exam number 2).

Did I agree with this stance? I mean, I love sugar. I think it is such an integral part of childhood and growing up, cake on your birthday, ice cream in the summer, chocolate as a treat. I obviously do not have all the medical knowledge he does, but I do not think that culturally sugar can be eradicated or taken out from our diet. But what of the fact that most sugar comes in the form of processed foods? what if sugar was eaten in moderation and in “real food”. is that still bad for you? after all, isn’t wine good for you in moderation? chocolate? caffeine? the knowledge in the nutritional field seems to change every day, with conflicting information coming from every which way. its…very confusing. I think perhaps Michael Pollan was right when he said “eat food, not to much, mostly plants” (am i biased? i dunno…) I am still fascinated by cultural impacts on food consumption and diet and illness, why is it that other cultures have not been experiencing such high rates of illness? I do not think it comes from sugar, but from the context sugar is consumed.

Of course I still have tons and tons and tons to learn and read and figure out, but its just the random things I think about as I continue to behave like a little kid and eat candy. What did I do right after lecture? had a bit of wine and ended up at CREAM yet again with a different group of people. (omg, am i addicted, do i need an intervention?!?!?!? Powells and CREAM anonymous anyone?)

I had my second exam yesterday, and its really frustrating because I still do not know what I got on my first test. GRR. I think my GSI (grad. student instructor aka TA) thinks I am an oddball. Here is a snippet of class yesterday:
We were working in small groups, and it got oddly quite.
“If sociology doesn’t work out for you guys, have you ever thought of being a ninja?”
me: “so you mean I can just draw ninja’s all over my paper?”
GSI: “well, it would be really easy to grade.”
me: “an A, right?”
and he rolls his eyes
later, upon handing in my exam, i told him
“don’t worry, I drew ninjas all over the inside”
and he rolls his eyes yet again.
oh berkeley….
but If he does not hand back our first exam on thursday, I may hafta use my ninja skills after all.

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