When milk prices soared I took it in stride since I've never been a milk drinker. In kindergarten I told my teacher I was allergic to it so I could have apple juice instead. This allergy was news to my parents as there was no medical evidence to substantiate my claim. I was five years old. I thought being allergic to something meant you didn't like it. By this logic I was also allergic to liver, oatmeal and my brother.
When gas prices skyrocketed to over four dollars a gallon it hit a bit more close to home. As a working stand-up comedian I drive to a lot of my gigs. Some bookers compensated by paying a little extra for gas money, most didn't. I was foolishly hopeful about a possible "gas tax holiday" but it never materialized. A good thing too, since that money was later needed for corporate bailouts.
But everybody has a breaking point and I've reached mine. I read an article in "The Wall Street Journal" ("Food Firms Warn of Sugar Shortage; Thursday, August 13, 2009) that chilled me. I don't drink, smoke or do drugs. My guilty pleasures in life are sugar and shopping. Since the economy developed an allergy to stability, I've cut way back on the ancillary shopping. That leaves sugar.
I have a pack a day chewing gum habit. I take coffee with my cream and sugar. I eat Frosted Flakes straight out of the box. I was nearly apoplectic when Kelloggs' announced a plan to make my favorite cereal with one third less sugar. The point of Frosted Flakes is the sugar. I'd prefer it if they make them with one third fewer flakes. Let's face it, Frosted Flakes with less sugar is like water with less hydrogen, instead of H2O you get HO.
I have friends who, for various reasons, don't use sugar anymore. I am astonished at their fortitude. It's like they've somehow learned to live without air. The prospect of looking into an empty sugar bowl is more terrifying to me than a Stephen King novel.
Sugar substitutes you say? I've tried them and they are no substitute. The best of the lot is Splenda. "You can't taste the difference," my friends say. "Yes, you can," I counter. I have a hypersensitive palate and Splenda tastes wrong, off and unnatural, like a lawsuit waiting to happen.
So what's causing this potentially life altering Sugar shortage? According to "The Wall Street Journal":
"The world is consuming more sugar than farmers are producing. The world's largest sugar producer, Brazil, is diverting huge amounts of its cane crop to making ethanol fuel. Likewise, the food industry has complained bitterly in recent years about the U.S. ethanol industry's ravenous appetite for corn which helped push up prices for that key ingredient too.
"More than half of Brazil's sugarcane crop is processed into ethanol while about one-third of the U.S. corn crop is made into the alternative fuel. An erratic monsoon season in India also has led sugar analysts to reduce their production forecast for the world's second-largest sugar producer."
And so, it's official: I am totally anti-ethanol.
My Husband suggests that perhaps "The Journal" has been less than thorough in its reporting. "They didn't take You into account," he says. "If you cut back on your sugar intake, maybe there wouldn't be a shortage." Could he be right? Is my sugar jones affecting world markets? I guess it's either cut back or start growing Sugar cane in my back yard. I might opt for the latter and pray the monsoons and Ethanolics don't come calling.
In the meantime, President Obama, I know you're busy with Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan, Health Care, Blue Dog Democrats, selling cars, proving your citizenship, raising your family and The Economy, but this is serious. I can't do without sugar. I don't exactly have medical proof, but I'm pretty sure I'm allergic to Splenda.